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Powering down a physical PC can potentially cause issues, especially if the hard drive is being written to at the time.

Can the same problem occur when I power off a VM in VirtualBox?

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Every time I do, I get the standard "Windows was not shut down properly" message:

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Is it possible for files to become corrupted this way?

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The issues are not caused by 'forcefully' powering the harddrive off, specifically-- the issues are caused because the OS cannot save it's state properly, and might be in the middle of writing files to disk. When you power off the VM, you run into the same situation: Windows might have been in the middle of saving data to the virtual disk, and now you have a corrupt virtual disk. –  Darth Android Nov 13 '13 at 19:48
    
@DarthAndroid Yes, that was bad wording in the question. I'll edit it. –  Moses Nov 13 '13 at 20:54

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You're essentially powering off a virtual hard drive. Upon shut down, Windows has to correctly off-load it's RAM contents back to the virtual hard drive so that next time you boot up things like registry changes are up-to-date.

Improperly shutting down a VM has the same software/OS implications as pulling the power-cord on your physical machine aside from the risk of electrical damage to components.

I recommend to always Shut Down the VM through the Start Menu, send the shutdown signal, or simply save the machine state.

The only reason you would simulate a forced shutdown is any reason you would force a physical machine to shut down such as overloading it and causing it to freeze.

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Yes. Should really only do it when your throwing away the current state of the VM's disk anyway like by reverting to a previous snapshot. Note there is even an option to do that in the dialog.

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