Hyper-V P2V for Windows

Physical to Virtual migration (P2V) is a common task for achieving consolidation goals through virtualization. System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is by far the best tool from Microsoft to facilitate P2V migrations (as well as V2V conversions from VMware to Hyper-V).  The FAQ for SCVMM is a worthwhile read to best understand automated migration to Hyper-V, and it can be found here.

While I believe that SCVMM is the best option for P2V migrations, it isn’t practical in all situations.  Sometimes a light weight, standalone solution is necessary to accomplish Windows migrations.

There are other 3rd  party options for P2V migration include Novell’s Platespin, DoubleTake Move, Acronis, and even tools from VMware, but I prefer not to use them if I don’t have to, since they add cost and (non-Microsoft) complexity to the migration process.  They are some instances, appropriate tools, but I prefer to go with Microsoft tools that may cost less (like free!).

When I want to migrate a physical machine to a VM without using SCVMM, I will either use WinPE and ImageX (detailed in our books on Hyper-V), or I will use Disk2VHD.

I’m still amazed how many administrators haven’t heard about or tried Disk2VHD!  It’s a wonderful tool for capturing Windows-base system images and converting them to VMs.  With either Disk2VHD or other manual efforts, you still need to install the Integration Services and perhaps take other remediation / migration steps (fixing storage drivers / HAL issues), but it’s a great tool, and you can’t beat the price!

One limitation of Disk2VHD, is that it relies on VSS to capture an image of a running system.  Older versions of Windows (NT / 95 / 98 / Windows 2000) don’t include VSS, so it will not work to capture an image of these operating systems.  ImageX works well for me for older NTFS-based systems, so I use that as my low priced fallback.

As you know, I’ve been doing a good amount of work virtualizing Linux on Hyper-V.  Neither of these two “free” migration tools work with Linux, since Linux systems don’t use NTFS or VSS.  In my next post, I’ll dive into some of the challenges of P2V for Linux as well as solutions.


Comments (5)
  1. JohnKelbley says:

    Thanks Peter!  

    I didn’t think it should work…Kjetil are you certain it was Windows 2000 you used?

  2. Hi there,

    I just tried to start Disk2VHD on my Windows 2000 Professional machine. The tool will not run, as expected on Windows 2000. Disk2VHD reports: "This is not a valid Win32 application". It was a fresh install of Windows 2000 Pro with SP4, Windows Installer 3.1 and .NET Framework 2.0, no other Software installed.

    Peter Forster, MVP Virtual Machine, Austria

  3. JohnKelbley says:

    Really?  Since Windows 2000 doesn’t have VSS, I’m wondering how it could take a snapshot for the imaging process.  I’d be interested to know if the process was the same as that you would see on XP / 2003 and newwer.

  4. tonyr says:

    I’m not at work currently so I can’t find this out but can dism be used to install the integration components.  That would certainly make disk2vhd even more valuable I’d think.

  5. Kjetil says:

    I’ve used Disk2VHD on two of my old windows 2000 servers, worked perfectly 🙂

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