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How to Convert a Physical Computer to a Virtual Machine

By Nirmal Sharma (Send Email)
Posted May 21, 2013


Currently, there are primarily two tools/products available for converting a physical machine to a virtual machine (VM). While you may find other apps available to perform the conversion, the below products are designed by Microsoft:

  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (P2V)
  • Disk2VHD Tool

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (aka SCVMM) not only provides built-in basic options to convert a physical computer to a virtual machine, it also offers advanced configuration options with the P2V wizard. SCVMM is a robust tool for managing virtualization products like Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware and Citrix Xen Servers. We're going to talk more about the Disk2VHD tool in this article, though, so explaining the P2V process of SCVMM is out of scope for this article.

Note: Disk2VHD tool is not a replacement for SCVMM but rather a user friendly tool to perform simple conversions.

Disk2VHD Tool

While converting physical computers to virtual machines can help organizations reduce their overall physical hardware costs, the enterprise products used for virtual conversion may be expensive. This is where the Disk2VHD tool comes in handy. If you need to perform a conversion without paying a license fee for SCVMM, you can use the Disk2VHD tool instead.

Server Tutorials - RoundedDisk2VHD is a standalone EXE that can be used to convert a physical machine to a virtual machine. Basically, as the name suggests, Disk2VHD converts logical volumes to VHD files. These VHD files can then be used either to create a virtual machine on Hyper-V or attach VHD file as a second drive to the existing virtual machines.

The Disk2VH tool operates in two modes: GUI mode and Command-Line mode. The command-line mode is typically more helpful for scripting-based conversions in which your intervention is not required.

We are going to discuss the following topics in this article:

  • Disk2VHD Tool - Using GUI Mode
  • Disk2VHD Tool - Using Command-Line Mode
  • What Data Is Copied?
  • Where Should We Use Converted VHD Files?
  • Disk2VHD Facts

Disk2VHD Tool - Using GUI Mode

The Disk2VHD.exe tool can be downloaded directly from Microsoft at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.

Before you start the conversion process using the Disk2VHD tool, it is important to shut down all the applications you are running on the physical computer.

Steps:

1. When you double click on the Disk2VHD.exe, it scans the current computer for all physical drives and shows the available drives for your selection to proceed with the conversion. This is shown in the below screenshot:

Disk2VHD - Figure 1

Note: The Disk2VHD tool omits network drives attached to the physical computer, as these are not considered for the conversion.

The screen also shows you the free disk space required on the destination location where the VHD file will be created for the drives you have selected.

Note: System Reserved partition (unlettered volume), as shown in the above screenshot, is a bootable partition on the physical computer. Include this partition only if you want to make your VHD bootable. In other words, you may consider including the System Reserved partition if your virtual machine is going to boot from this VHD file.

2. In the same screen, specify the VHD file name and location in the "VHD File Name" text box and then click on the "Create" button to start the conversion process.

3. When you hit the "Create" button, the tool will interact with the Operating System VSS component to create snapshots of the volumes as indicated in the below screenshot:

Disk2VHD - Figure 2

After the "snapshotting volumes" process is over, the data from the snapshot will be copied to the VHD file.

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