Unfriendly shutdown of Windows Guest: unable to boot!

Discussions about using Windows guests in VirtualBox.

Unfriendly shutdown of Windows Guest: unable to boot!

Postby luposlip » 18. Sep 2008, 12:30

I use Windows XP as a guest on OSX Leopard (on a macbook pro) using VirtualBox 2.0.2.

Yesterday I'd started the Windows XP guest (as always), when suddenly there were no more power on the laptop battery. It was late, so instead of attaching the power supply, I just closed the lid. I shouldn't have done that..

Because today when I booted OSX and afterwards tried to start the Windows XP host, I just got this error:
Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
A disk read error occurred
Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart


I have my email on this disk (ok, perhaps that was a little bit stupid..), so I'm really desperate to get the disk working again.

Please advise! Thanks in advance..
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Postby kfa » 19. Sep 2008, 06:50

I've had the same problem several times with WinXP guests after improper shutdown of the VM. Is this a known issue? It happens to me on OSX Leopard *any and every* time my WinXP Pro SP2 VM is reset due to an OSX system crash.

Looks like this was logged and dismissed here, but I'm not convinced it should have been:

http://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/2267
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Postby luposlip » 19. Sep 2008, 10:26


That's my post as well.. I agree, they shouldn't have closed my issue just like that.

I'll try to open it again, referring to this thread.

Did you ever find a solution to this issue?
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Postby sandervl » 19. Sep 2008, 10:41

I hate to disappoint you guys, but it's not an issue with VirtualBox. That why I asked you to report the problem here.

You can't just pull the (virtual) power plug from a VM and expect everything to be fine afterwards.

There are ways to salvage your data from the partition by e.g. mounting it in another (Windows) VM. Or you can try to boot the Windows cd/iso in repair mode.
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Postby luposlip » 19. Sep 2008, 11:09

sandervl wrote:You can't just pull the (virtual) power plug from a VM and expect everything to be fine afterwards.


Ok, thanks for your reply.

I've never experienced this with Parallels Desktop (or VMWare for that matter).

I know for a fact that I've "killed" Windows XP in an unfriendly manner using Parallels Desktop, without experiencing anything like this.

I don't know how they do it, but perhaps they "clean up" the pointers in the file system (or whatever, I don't know much about file systems etc.) after each read/write.

Could we call it a "feature request" instead then?
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Postby sandervl » 19. Sep 2008, 11:14

Depends on how you killed the VM. If you killed the application in a hard way, then you've just been lucky.

When you closed the lid, the computer shut down properly? That probably means they intercept the shutdown message and send a shutdown signal to the guest. Sounds a bit far fetched though. If you're out of battery there's usually not much time to do so.
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Postby luposlip » 19. Sep 2008, 11:23

I've closed the lid a lot of times - then OSX goes into standby, and that doesn't kill the Windows (the guest OS apparently goes into standby as well without any problems).

This time OSX wen't into standby automatically because of no more than a couple of percent capacity left on the battery. This would probably have been alright, if I'd just been given the machine some power. But I didn't and the machine - including the windows guest - went from standby to dead during the night.

I've done the same thing with parallels. Not on purpose, but accidentally.

BTW: I've just tried to start the Windows repair console from the install DVD, and when I try to "dir" the C:-drive it says:
"An error occurred during directory enumeration".

I've never experienced this before with either Parallels or VMWare. This is no criticism, just a fact ;)
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Postby sandervl » 19. Sep 2008, 11:27

Can you do a chkdsk on that partition from the repair console? Note that if you have really important data, then I suggest you make a copy of the VDI file first.

I've killed my VBox XP many times as well without any problems. That doesn't mean it's a safe thing to do. :)
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Postby benhourigan » 23. Sep 2008, 02:16

sandervl wrote:I hate to disappoint you guys, but it's not an issue with VirtualBox. That why I asked you to report the problem here.

You can't just pull the (virtual) power plug from a VM and expect everything to be fine afterwards.

There are ways to salvage your data from the partition by e.g. mounting it in another (Windows) VM. Or you can try to boot the Windows cd/iso in repair mode.


Neither VMWare Fusion nor Parallels Desktop exhibit this behavior. There are reasons beyond users' control that may lead to an improper shutdown (i.e. power failure), and until VirtualBox can recover gracefully from this (like similar products), it is not ready for use in a work environment.

The ticket needs to stay open; users' concern about and dissatisfaction with this should not be dismissed.
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Postby sandervl » 23. Sep 2008, 09:23

benhourigan wrote:
sandervl wrote:I hate to disappoint you guys, but it's not an issue with VirtualBox. That why I asked you to report the problem here.

You can't just pull the (virtual) power plug from a VM and expect everything to be fine afterwards.

There are ways to salvage your data from the partition by e.g. mounting it in another (Windows) VM. Or you can try to boot the Windows cd/iso in repair mode.


Neither VMWare Fusion nor Parallels Desktop exhibit this behavior. There are reasons beyond users' control that may lead to an improper shutdown (i.e. power failure), and until VirtualBox can recover gracefully from this (like similar products), it is not ready for use in a work environment.

The ticket needs to stay open; users' concern about and dissatisfaction with this should not be dismissed.


I have told you above the reasons why this can lead to data corruption. This is no different in either VMWare, Parallels or a real system. This is common knowledge in the PC world.

So unless you or anybody else can reproduce such corruption every time, there's no need to reopen the ticket. As I said above, I have brutally killed XP sessions 100s of times without corrupting the VM.
And again: this doesn't mean it's safe!
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Same problem

Postby daveungerer@gmail.com » 23. Sep 2008, 09:34

Just encountered the same "A disk read error occurred" problem running XP on an OS X host, but I can't recall if I shut it down impropery or not. Booted from installation CD to run chksdk, but now it's complaining that it can't find <System Root>\system32\hal.dll. Guess I've lost my VM.
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Probably not specific to VirtualBox

Postby daveungerer@gmail.com » 23. Sep 2008, 10:09

Upon further investigation, it appears that this happens on Parallels too, probably VMWare as well. Just google parallels A disk read error occurred and you'll see. It must be purely by chance that you've only encountered it with VirtuaBox.

At least I hope that's the case, since I'd love to continue using VirtualBox. I'm going to put this down to chance and reinstall my virtual machine.
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Postby benhourigan » 23. Sep 2008, 11:27

kfa wrote:I've had the same problem several times with WinXP guests after improper shutdown of the VM. Is this a known issue? It happens to me on OSX Leopard *any and every* time my WinXP Pro SP2 VM is reset due to an OSX system crash.

http://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/2267


kfa is reproducing this every time.

Also, the top instances of a like problem on Parallels are not caused by unfriendly shutdown, but by copying or moving the disk image. See http://forum.parallels.com/showthread.php?t=17906 for an example.

Now, I know that this isn't an entirely generalizable observation, but if I run a series of computers for ten or more years without ever having an improper shutdown or power failure hose the HDD, I consider myself relatively safe from power failures.

If I run VirtualBox for two weeks, have my laptop battery run out while it's asleep, and that corrupts the VDI (but not my Mac's HDD), how can that be acceptable behavior from the application? Why should I have to worry about data corruption from using VirtualBox when I don't have to worry about it from my hardware?
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Postby sandervl » 23. Sep 2008, 11:51

First of all VBox doesn't corrupt your data, the host OS doesn't save it to disk in such cases.

Maybe this is a Mac OS X specific problem as I have never heard of this before on other platforms. We'll look into it.

kfa: please add your comments to the defect.
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Postby benhourigan » 23. Sep 2008, 12:11

Thanks. I'm glad to hear that it will be looked into. I look forward to hearing what you find.
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