Convert Windows installation to virtual machine image

The conversion of a live Windows system to a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk – Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) image is very easy thanks to Sysinternals excellent Disk2vhd program for Windows.

Once converted you can use your VHD image with Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs).

The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online. Disk2vhd uses Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability, introduced in Windows XP, to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion.

You can even have Disk2vhd create the VHDs on local volumes, even ones being converted (though performance is better when the VHD is on a disk different than ones being converted).

Disk2VHD can be set to output to the newer VHDX format or it can be disabled if you want to create a VHD format image instead. VHDX offers several advantages such as support for larger virtual disks (64 TB vs 2TB), better corruption protection, 4K disk alignment, online resizing, and more.

If you are using VirtualBox a general-purpose free full virtualizer then you could convert your VHD image to .vdi (virtual disk image) format used by Oracle VM VirtualBox using instruction below.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type cmd.exe, hold down the Ctrl-key and the Shift-key, and hit the Enter-key to launch an elevated command prompt.
  2. Navigate to the VirtualBox folder on the system, e.g. c:\program files\Oracle\VirtualBox using the cd command.
  3. Use the command vboxmanage clonemedium disk [source] [destination] to convert the VHD disk image to VDI format. Example: vboxmanage clonemedium disk o:\source.vhd o:\output.vdi