Running a Windows XP VM in Parallels (Mac) from a USB Flash Drive

I thought I'd post my experience here, for the benefit of others, because I couldn't find a whole lot of information about this specific use of an external USB flash drive.

I have a MacBook Air with a dainty 128GB SSD drive, so I try to keep large files that I rarely use on external drives. I have plenty of external USB and FireWire storage (over 6 TB), and running VMs in either Parallels or VMWare Fusion works great (very highly performant) off any of these external drives.

However, there's no way I'm going to lug around an external hard drive and USB cable (and maybe power adapter) just so I can test things in Internet Explorer (basically, the only use I have for Windows).

Flash Drive to the Rescue!

I found a cheap 32GB USB flash drive that only sticks out of my MacBook Air half an inch, and copies at a consistent rate of 30MB/second (which is quite sufficient for most tasks). Also, the little drive should have very good read performance, since it's not a spinning platter. Write speed wouldn't be anything to brag about, but writing shouldn't happen all that often when simply opening up Internet Explorer—I hope!

Simple MAMP/MAMP Pro VirtualHosts in Parallels / Windows XP

(This tip should also work similarly with Vista, Windows 7, etc.).

After browsing around a bunch of different forums, the MAMP site, and Parallels documentation, I was still flummoxed by Parallels' weird Shared Host networking behavior, which seemingly didn't allow me to access virtualhosts I set up with MAMP for developing sites locally.

After much experimentation, I found that the simplest way to be able to type in '' (or '', if that's your style) in Internet Explorer on Windows, and get a virtual host running via MAMP on my Mac, is to do the following:

Using Virtual Machines to Test Websites on a Mac

Besides business applications, one of the main reasons to run a copy of Windows in a Virtual Machine (using either VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop) on your Mac is to test software and websites. I recently ran into a problem, though, when I wanted to test some PHP-based websites that were running on my Mac under MAMP (stands for Mac Apache, MySQL and PHP).

The problem is this: Even if you have the Windows set up with bridged networking, you will not be able to see the websites running on your Mac if you type in the Mac's IP address. This problem can be solved pretty easily, though, if you simply tell Windows exactly where Internet Explorer needs to look, by editing the 'hosts' file (which tells Windows where to look for specific IP addresses).