Workaround for VirtualBox problems with SATA on Windows guests

On the home media server I'm running Solaris 11 Express (a.k.a. Nevada build 151a).  Overall, the machine has been running great over the last couple of years, upgrading from various OpenSolaris builds.  No problems overall.

Last week, I upgraded VirtualBox to version 4.0.0, and also tried to install Windows 7.  I've installed Windows 7 before under VirtualBox 3.x, with no problems.  Running that same, good Windows 7 guest under VBox 4.0.0 also worked perfectly fine.  But when I tried to install, the Windows 7 guest seemed to stall when it rebooted (the install procedure reboots a couple of times).  I couldn't figure out why; I could forcibly restart the Windows 7 guest and sometimes it would boot, but it would never stay stable for long.

Comparing the new Win7 guest to my good one, I noticed a difference in the Storage device used for the .vdi file: in my good working Windows 7 guest, the .vdi file (i.e., the boot disk) is mounted as an IDE disk; in the new installs, it's mounted as a SATA target.

I don't know why the same disk mounted as SATA causes instability, but the problem is easily corrected:
  1. Stop the VM, go to the Settings panel.
  2. In the Storage settings, find the boot disk and remove it (it was listed as a SATA device)
  3. In the same Storage settings, find the IDE controller and click on the icon that lets you add a new IDE disk (as opposed to a new IDE CD/DVD)
  4. Choose an existing disk, then find that same VDI file you were using.  Select that.
Simple as that; restart the VM and it should boot just fine.  It did for me, no instability, no performance problems.

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