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I got a VirtualBox TinyXP install that actually eats about 600mb on the HDD. However, the VDI is over 4GB and growing. As anyone who googled a minute probably found out, there isn't really much one can do about that. While there is a command to compact, it really doesn't do much. However I had a thought that I can't currently test:

Wouldn't it be possible to make a new VM, attach the VDI, boot up one of those Linux Live CDs with backup tools, make a backup of the VDI, and then reboot with a blank VDI file and restore it ? That kind of process should only back up actual files, not formerly used 'sectors' and similar, and as such be the minimum size the VDI could have.

Am I mistaken in my admittedly shaky understanding of how this works and what the issues with shrinking VDIs are, or should this, at least in theory, actually work, and produce a ~600mb sized VDI file ?

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Maybe you should consider reading the VirtualBox documentation. –  John Gardeniers Oct 5 '12 at 1:46
I found nothing that clashes with the idea in the VirtualBox documentation. –  Joerg Stoever Oct 5 '12 at 9:58
True, there is nothing that clashes with your idea, but there are details on why this happens and how to prevent or reduce the growth. It would be better to have a proper solution to the problem than having to create a workaround. –  John Gardeniers Oct 5 '12 at 23:23

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