Virtual machine with Raw Access (disk) mode as a service

I am looking to run a windows home server virtual machine on a windows 7 host.
Some of the primary benefits of WHS are related to its disk/storage management. Therefore I would like to give the VM raw access to the hard drive rather than using a virtual disk. Also I hear there are limits on virtual disk sizes.

I read that VMware workstation has this feature, but it is usually mentioned in the context of linux and I was wondering if it can work with windows host/windows guest.

The problem with vmware workstation is that it does not run as a service (without a workaround), and I am really looking to have something that automatically runs when the computer is booted and no users are logged in. So I am completely opened to other virtualization software as well.
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yankees9920Asked:
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sam_gibsonCommented:
Have you thought about using VMware Server?  You can create your WHS guest OS, and tell VMware Server to have that guest OS start automatically.  VMware Server 2.0 will work with Windows 7, but there are some networking issues when using NAT between the guest and host.  Since you're going to use WHS, you'll probably want to have the guest OS use bridged networking, and give it a static IP anyways.  Here's a link with details about the Win7/VMwareServer2/NAT issue though http://florianlr.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/5/.
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yankees9920Author Commented:
I am using VMware server 2.0 right now, but it does not have the ability to have raw disk access that I am looking for.
It requires me to have a VHD that is allocated to the size of the disk (1tb). I believe that is the maximum size for VMDK files (from what I have read 950gb) which prevent me from getting larger HDs and also taking out the disk and plugging it into another computer to retrieve files in the case of a failure.
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sam_gibsonCommented:
I did some quick digging, and looks like the raw support is there, but not exposed through the UI.  Look at this post:

http://www.kelvinism.com/howtos/using-raw-disks-vmware-server-2/
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yankees9920Author Commented:
Those instructions look like they are for linux, any idea how that would work with a windows host?
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sam_gibsonCommented:
The only thing linux specific is the /dev/sdb portion under the Extent Description section.   Found another page with the contents of their VMDK file from their Vista host OS.  

http://rand0mbits.blogspot.com/2009/09/vmware-raw-disks.html

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yankees9920Author Commented:
Other reading has led me to believe this ability is also blocked in windows
http://communities.vmware.com/message/1332014
and required further workarounds. Maybe this whole thing is not worth it.

What downsides are there to using a vmdk file?
Am I able to go over 950gb?
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yankees9920Author Commented:
Thanks for your help. For something that I want to be rock solid stable I don't want to mess with all of these workarounds. Time to start thinking of another configuration.
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sam_gibsonCommented:
Glad I could help you reach that conclusion.  I agree that you don't want a bunch of workarounds for a production-level or other important system.  Good luck in finding something else that works for your needs!
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