Turn Bootable Hard Drives Into Virtual Machines | Disk2VHD

Having the ability to turn any bootable hard drive into a Virtual Machine is something I have always wanted.  This program will allow anyone from a beginner to an advanced tech to experience the Virtual Machine world with a variety of benefits.  If you are just starting with the possibility of creating a Virtual Machine, this is the easiest way to do it in that you will not have much in the way of setup or installation.  Or, if you are having trouble with a certain machine and want to either further test or eliminate the hardware variable, this is an excellent tool to keep in your arsenal.  For jobs big and small, Disk2VHD should be something everyone is made aware of.

Using Disk2VHD

First, where do we go to obtain this little gem?  You can downloaded it over here at SoftPedia in a ZIP format so all you will need to do is unzip and run the application inside.  This is where I got my download and it ran fine with MSE, MBAM, and Spybot all verifying its integrity.  This is a completely self sustained program in that there is no installation to your system.  Once the disclaimer is accepted, you will be shown a window such as the one below listing all of the Hard Drives that are installed on the system and check boxes allowing you to select which one you would like to turn make a .VHD file out of.  Don’t worry, the original data on the drive will not be affected as it essentially makes a shadow copy of the system and then manipulating that data into the .VHD file.

So after selecting the Hard Drive with a boot partition on it, in my case the C: drive should be bootable as I’m currently operating within it, you would simply hit “Create” and it will start the process of creation.  You may run into one of these errors depicted below and here is why.  If you get the error screen on the left, which is pretty self explanitory, you do not have enough room on your current Hard Drive to make a .VHD file of your drive and save it there as well.  Your only options will be to install another hard drive with as much free space as it requires or plug up a USB/firewire external Hard Drive and copy to it.

If you get the error shown on the righthand side of the below picture, your system was having a problem creating the shadow copy it needed to continue with the creation process.  This is a bit more of an issue and will require installing your drive in an external Hard Drive enclosure or installing the drive into another computer to make the .VHD of it.  Shadow copy problems do happen with some systems depending on running processes and programs as they cannot be temporarily paused/disabled for the creation to take place.  A video recording program was the main reason I was able to get it to show this error as it couldn’t be paused during live recording.  If you know which program or process is causing the error, you can temporarily disable or close and try to make your .VHD file again.

We Created A .VHD File, Now What?!?

Now that the file has been created, what do we do with it?  We will need to either download one of the free Virtual Platforms or buy something like VMWare to run the Virtual Environment on our PC.  Virtual Box can be obtained from Oracle for free via it’s download link here.  Also, Microsoft’s Virtual PC can be downloaded for XP, Vista, or Windows 7 via the Microsoft Home page or here.

After installing which ever we choose(you can have multiple installed too FYI), we will have to go through the process of creating a new Virtual Machine in it and pointing it to the .VHD file we created to use as its Hard Disk.  Once that is done, you can check the settings of the Virtual Environment and start that bad boy up.  As anyone who has dealt in the VM world knows, there will sometimes be issues resulting from your VMs whether it be not booting correctly, hanging up on a driver(especially when P2V), and various other ailments.  When these issues arise, a great place to troubleshoot would be the Disk2VHD Forum where everyone else is doing this exact same thing.  Hopefully your Physical 2 Virtual computer goes off smootly and you can revel in the Virtual World testing and playing within a (potentially) safe environment!