Windows Hyper-V 2012 & 8.1 Hyper-V Did Not Find Virtual Machine to Import

Back in May 2013, we discussed an issue which caused the Hyper-V Did Not Find Virtual Machines To Import error.  Well, as mentioned in that blog post there are a few reasons for this error message being displayed and it does depend on the versions of Hyper-V in use.

There were some comments posted (thanks again for that by the way!) which mentioned an issue with importing VMs into Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.  I thought it may be worth bubbling this up again now that Windows 8.1 is available and people may be running into the same import issue.  Ideally we can raise awareness so that we can plan the right approach.

The issue is that VMs which were previously exported from Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V cannot be imported into Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and Windows 8.1.   Please note that the same  VMs could be imported into Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V  (note the missing R2 there) without any issue.

Update 2-12-2013: Added new post to walk through the conversion process using Server 2012.

Let’s take a peek at the issue, and then discuss what we can do!

Importing Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V VM Into Windows 8.1

For the purposes of this post, let’s try and import a VM called AD1HC1.  This was successfully exported from Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.  Currently this VM and all its associated files reside in the G:\VMs\AD1HC1 folder.  The various files can be seen here:

Windows Server 2008 / 2008 R2 Exported Virtual Machine Directory Structure

There are no hidden tricks and this is an exported VM that can be imported to Windows Server 2008 R2 without issues, and has been many times.

If we use the GUI and try to import the VM into Windows 8.1

Importing a Virtual Machine From Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V Into Windows 8.1

We get the following error:

Hyper-V did not find virtual machines to import from location ‘G:\VMs\AD1HC1’

Importing a Virtual Machine From Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V Into Windows 8.1 - Hyper-V did not find virtual machine to import

When reviewing what Process Monitor sees on the file system, there are no Access Denied error messages.  We are able to read the disk and review the files contained within.

Importing a Virtual Machine From Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V Into Windows 8.1 - Process Monitor Analysis


If the files exist on the disk and we can read them, what’s up then?  For the eagle eyed out there, you may be wondering why the .exp file has not been read…..

Digging In

If you wrote scripts to import/export Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V VMs, there is a small clue in the Hyper-V section located in the Features Removed or Deprecated in Windows Server 2012 page on TechNet.   **

  • VM Chimney (also called TCP Offload) has been removed. The TCP chimney will not be available to guest operating systems.
  • Support for Static VMQ has been removed. Drivers using NDIS 6.3 will automatically access Dynamic VMQ capabilities that are new in Windows Server 2012.

  • The WMI root\virtualization namespace is deprecated. The new namespace is root\virtualization\v2.
  • Windows Authorization Manager (AzMan) is deprecated. You may need to use new management tools for virtual machines or redesign the authorization model.

And if we then look at the same section in the Features Removed or Deprecated in Windows Server 2012 R2

  • WMI root\virtualization namespace v1 (used in Hyper-V)

So the WMI v1 namespace was deprecated in Windows Server 2012, and then removed in Windows Server 2012 R2.   Why is this important?  When the Export call was made to export the VM from Windows 2008 R2, the WMI v1 namespace was used.  This can be seen with a PowerShell snippet  which binds to the Hyper-V WMI Namespace.

$VMManagementService = Get-WmiObject -Namespace root\virtualization -Class Msvm_VirtualSystemManagementService -ComputerName $HyperVHost

In a post on the Hyper-V TechNet forum there are some details worth reading from Taylor Brown, and if you don't already read his blog the RSS feed is here.

VM's that are exported from Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 utilized the version 1 WMI namespace which resulted in an .exp file to represent the exported virtual machine. In Windows Server 2012 we introduced a new WMI namespace (version 2 or root\virtualization\v2) which implemented a much better import/export model – allowing you to effectively just copy the virtual machine folder (with the VM’s XML configuration file inside it) as well as the VM’s VHDs and then import that directly. For Windows Server 2012 we maintained the version 1 WMI namespace which allowed for importing of Windows Server 2008/R2 VM’s on 2012.

In Windows Server 2012 R2 we have removed the old version 1 namespace which means we can’t import virtual machines that where exported from Windows Server 2008/R2.

What To Do

As you can see, VMs that were exported from Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2 cannot be imported as-is into Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1.

Don’t Panic Captain Mainwaring, Don’t panic!   ***

Don’t panic as there are options!!  Let’s look at them based on the scenario.  There are two basic takes on this:

  1. Original Hyper-V Server and the VM is still available
  2. Original Hyper-V Server is not available

Original Hyper-V Server & VMs Available

If you exported from Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2, and the original host is still available with the VMs then probably the easiest option will be to get the VMs off that machine in a format that is easily importable to Hyper-V 2012 R2.

On the original Hyper-V server, power down the VMs.  Once they have shut down, then stop the Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management Service (VMMS).  This will unlock the VM’s files.  Simply copy over the VM folders to the Windows Server 2012 R2 server and they can be imported.  Remember this was one of the features added to Windows Server 2012 - we do not have to specifically export a VM before it can be imported.  Funnily enough this functionality was added in the WMI v2 namespace for Hyper-V….

Original Hyper-V Server Unavailable

If the original server or a copy of the VMs is no longer available, there are still a couple of options.  This may be the scenario if you are re-purposing the hardware and the original machine has been wiped, or if these are archived lab VMs that you are trying to import to a new version of Hyper-V.


Perform Intermediate Import

If, and this will not apply to everyone, you have a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V machine, the 2008 / 2008 R2 VMs can be imported to that server.  Note that this is not a R2 2012 server. Since 2012 still has the WMI v1 namespace (albeit deprecated), we can import the .exp machines.  Once successfully imported to 2012, the VMs can be exported or copied over to Windows Server 2012 R2.  You do not need to power on the VMs after importing them to the intermediate Windows Server 2012 machine, that server is only used to perform the import thus allowing the VM to be copied to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Travis mentioned an interesting take on this in the comments below.  Consider a temporary boot to VHD option just to get the necessary import step done.  Thanks Travis!  Would love to know if that helps folks out at all – please post a comment below!

Update 2-12-2013: Added a How To on this topic.  Please see this post.


Create New VM – Reuse Virtual Hard Disk

If the above method is not available, or is too time consuming, an option is to create new VM configuration and specify to use an existing virtual hard disk.  By doing so we can re-use the VM’s virtual hard disk file.  Since the virtual NIC now has a different GUID Windows will recognise it as a different NIC, and you will need to re-enter the IP address in the VM.




** – What is the etymology of the word deprecated? – and Wikipedia doesn’t count!  Personally I prefer depreciate since the original Latin dēprecātus was to pray.

*** – If you have not seen the classic BBC comedy Dad’s Army take a look!


Comments (68)
  1. anonymouscommenter says:

    I just ran into that issue… I have a monster HP Elitebook with 2 SSDs and 32GB RAM which ran (with Windows 8) the Microsoft provided MOC courseware Hyper-V images like a breeze. As a MCT I was keen to get Windows 8.1 onto my machine to show my Microsoft pride to my students. Oh boy, what a stupid decision! You just gave the explanation why I cannot run the Hyper-V images anymore on my machine…

  2. Hi Mike,

    Did you try the steps under the "what to do" section?  

    Worst case you can create new VM configurations, and then point them to use the virtual disk from the exported VMs.



  3. anonymouscommenter says:

    Same issue, as a MCT i must prepare many vm's and the operating system of the host machine is 8.1. Microsoft should find a solution. Thanx to Rhoderick  for the (temp) solutions.

  4. anonymouscommenter says:

    Maybe Micrsoft could write a small app that converts the exp file to a valid xml file?

  5. anonymouscommenter says:

    An additional note to Rhoderick. Microsoft labs use Base and Mid-Tier vhds intensively. Which in turn makes any intermediate import a PITA. A small text file conversion would do the trick.

  6. Hi folks,

    I'm in the same position as you here.  I've been an MCT since '99 and know exactly what you are describing.  SK – you are describing the reference disks that MSL releases and then all course specific VMs are based off that??

    I also have the same issue when I deliver training to internal Microsoft folks, and to customers through premier workshops.  

    For those deliveries, I create the new VM and attach the existing disk as mentioned above.  I do that once and then re-use it.   But yes, it is an extra step.  

    I'll certainly provide your feedback on this to the Hyper-V folks.  



  7. BTW in terms of tools, I'm starting to see things on the Internet with the newer Hyper-V features.  For example

    That is from John Howard who is a program manager.  It's great that these utils are being released, but they are "AS-IS"

    This is covered on the T & C


    Although I work for Microsoft and am a Program Manager in the Hyper-V team, I must point you to the disclaimer on my blog, the disclaimer in files associated with this project, and the license conditions at the top of this page before use. Convert-VMGeneration.ps1 and any associated files are provided "as-is". You bear the risk of using it. No express warranties, guarantees or conditions are provided. It is not supported or endorsed by Microsoft Corporation and should be used at your own risk.


    So my point is, if you require full support for VMs that are important to you please use the native in-box tools and processes.



  8. anonymouscommenter says:

    Thanx for your support Rhoderick. i'm resetting my pc to factory configuration (win8). This i the only way to install the course without problems.

  9. That's probably the quickest thing to do right now Valerio.

    I have just sent internal feedback on this.  *IF* I can share anything I will.



  10. anonymouscommenter says:

    Hi Rhoderick. An optimization to the intermediate import approach. I just tested that I can do the import on an 2012 host, then copy just the generated xml to my 8.1 host (which already contained the other files such as big vhds). It worked this way, also.

    However, only the six WS 2008 R2 VMs worked. For some reason, the two Win7 VMs give an error when trying to import to the 8.1 host (using the copied xml).

  11. anonymouscommenter says:

    I have just hit this problem trying to get the Office 2013 demo VHD to work on a Windows 8.1 Laptop.

    I could not recreate the Virtual Machines as there is a lot of RRAS and IP setup with that environment that I tried and failed to get working again with new network adapters.

    The solution was to import the VMs into a different Windows 8 machine first, export them again, and then they went fine into Hyper V on Windows 8.1.  It took a while but worked.



  12. Groovy – glad that you got it working Matt & SK.

    That is listed in the Perform Intermediate Import section.  is it clear or does it need to be more explicit?



  13. anonymouscommenter says:

    I could not import the virtual machine and it could not find the virtual machines after upgrade, But after steting the path in general settings to the main directory of the old virtual machines it found them all. But I really have problem with network function that worked before. It seems like upgrade to 8.1 really blows everythings out.

  14. Hi Keva,

    Do you still have the virtual networks defined?  



  15. anonymouscommenter says:

    Can this tool help us ?

    We can convert the old machines to new ones.

  16. I don’t believe so based off the Q & A comments on the post…/Discussions



  17. anonymouscommenter says:

    Another workaround for those MCT's out there would be to attach a Server 2008 R2 VHD and boot to VHD then build your course in the VHD under it's Hyper-V. This beats going back to Win 8 from 8.1 as your main OS. You could use something like LON-HOST1.vhd off the MOCL. ( Can be grabbed from the 10750A course among others).

    Booting into the VHD could also be used to follow Rhoderick's suggestion above under "Original Hyper-V Server & VMs Available".  Use the boot to VHD as your "Original Server 2008 R2 system" and follow his directions above.  

  18. Hey Travis – how is the weather out East?  I'll be at your location in Montreal next week 🙂

    That is a pretty neat notion, and causes minimal impart to your 8.1 installation.

    Would be curious how this works out for folks – do post back here so others can benefit!



  19. anonymouscommenter says:

    thx for the details. But I get now little bit lost. The main reason is testing the VHD for Exchange 2010 SP1 (…/details.aspx) is not possible on Win8.1. And that sux. To my understanding the MS-site mention the requirement 2008R2 which should work, but somehow don't.

    Any ideas how else to let the stuff take off? (not to fly it through the window 😉 )

  20. anonymouscommenter says:

    Oh dear.  <sarcasm>How stupid I have been to think I could get my Windows 2008 guests onto my new 2012 R2 hosts.  As if a Microsoft Windows Server VM would easily import into a newer Microsoft Windows Server VM.</sarcasm>.   I don't much care for the detail of why this should be so hard, but I am flabbergasted that taking a VM from 2008 to 2012 R2 is basically impossible.  The techniques worked for my 2008 R2 guests but not my 2008 guests (and no I do not have that server anymore).   Microsoft used to be the backward compatibility champions – certainly doesn't seem that way in the virtualisation space.

    I am giving up and will investigate VeamZip.

  21. David – what was the exact scenario on the 2008 guests that you ran into?  I'm assuming that we are discussing currently running VMs and not ones that were exported – is that the case?    



  22. Travis – I fleshed out your suggestion on the boot to VHD front and there is a walkthrough in this new post…/how-to-import-windows-2008-r2-vm-to-windows-2012-or-8-1-using-boot-to-vhd.aspx

    I'd try a Windows To Go test and use that to host the temp Windows installation, but I don't have a certified stick right now.  Though getting the time to do that will be harder than getting a stick  🙁



  23. Maria – the system requirements for the VHD download require Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V to be running on your host.  You would had to do the workaround to get them converted since that downloadable VHD is from circa 2010.

    I will follow up on that download internally, for two reasons:

    1 – Add an option or move the download to support the newer Hyper-V import/export process.

    2 – Exchange 2010 SP1 is no longer in support.  You need to be on Exchange 2010 SP3 by April the 8th 2014.



  24. anonymouscommenter says:

    Thx Rhoderick for your response and some remarks from my side.

    My intention was/is to have a quick test of an Exchange setup and the provided image sounds quite promising. Since I couldn't find any other VHD I thought that's the best one especially since its provided by MS itself. IFFF there is no longer support then why is it still available and WHY don't they offer some alternative? (I know its not your business and its the one of MS.) AND for a quick 'n dirty test the version 2010SP1 would be sufficient.

    My other assumption about the VHD was/is that the Hyper-V of 2008R2 are more or less the same as 8.1. Especially since I thought 2012 server shares with 8 resp. 8.1 a code-base. Therefore I assumed they would be pretty much the same.

    Anyway too much thinking 😉 which does NOT lead to working solution 😉 The details suck 😉

  25. Hi Maria

    I totally get it, and sorry that this was not as simple as it should have been.

    With regards to the support comment, that was my leading point in my internal email to product group and marketing yesterday.  

    Yes the VHD internal structure is the same.  The issue is with the wrapper around the VHD which is the configuration file.  The way it was Exported from 2008 R2 had annoying limitations, which were removed in 2012.  2012 R2 removed the ability to import the legacy export structure which is the issue you are seeing now.  

    And yes, the devil is in the details 🙂



  26. anonymouscommenter says:

    Microsoft completely ignores customers using its software. This is the case for development tools like Visual Studio , and now the same stands Hyper-V. If you remove some legacy features, you should be able to provide automatic migration path right inside the import process – maybe with warning. As a MCT should I now advice my students not to use Microsoft software whenever possible? Rhoderick, thank you for your post anyway.

  27. anonymouscommenter says:

    I had the same problem but fixed it by creating a temporary Windows 2012 hyper-v guest and activated hyper-v in this guest. This is possible and will work since the VM only needs a import and exporte and not a start.
    I posted a small description here:

  28. secondsight says:

    Hi Rhod,

    I export my courses from Windows 8 Hyper-V and import them into Windows 8.1 Hyper-V. It’s a bit of a pfaff but it works. Only issue is that each VM needs its own set of Base files as there appears to be no way for them to share one.

    Regards (from the back of beyond)


  29. anonymouscommenter says:

    Thanks for the write up. What would you do if you only had exports from Hyper-V 2008, no access to original server, and no access to Hyper-V 2012 R2??

    We have software that checks licensing based on a machine fingerprint which uses the MAC address and would need to avoid having the change the GUID.

  30. I’d look at getting those VMs imported to a version which understand the .exp format. Windows 8 or 2012. From there taking them to 2012 R2. Most folks looking at this post should have corporate access to Win8 or 2012 /MSDN/ DVDs etc.

    If you are migration from a old version to a new one, then that normally means you have a coexistence period with both versions and can identify and resolve this.


  31. RayC.567 says:

    This blog has been running for most of a year now, and still there is no simple EXP to XML converter made available.

    I have been following the Cluster Migration guide to transfer large WIn2008R2 VMs to new Win2012R2 hardware and SANs. Simple process failed because SCVMM 2008R2 was involved, so had to resort to Exporting the VMs. Under this time pressure I completely forgot
    about the Import deprecation, and nor was it mentioned in any articles regarding Hyper-V cluster migration. So now I have to redefine all the VMs manually, a very painful process due to the number of networks involved. All the machines I have available are
    already running 8.1 or 2012R2, so not easy to perform the intermediate step either. Notably it was some PFE guides I was following that also "forgot" to mention this gotcha.
    I have been an MCSE for nearly twenty years and every now and then am astounded at the technical arrogance of Microsoft by inflicting this sort of unnecessary pain on their customers and partners. This is one such case. For want of what, a simple conversion
    I last saw this problem about nine months ago when preparing MCT classes, so I should have remembered, but that is not the issue here.
    Surely there are some PFE or PSS tools that can be made available?
    Come on MS, fix this key migration flaw, and very quickly.

  32. anonymouscommenter says:

    AMEN, I do believe you said it brother

  33. anonymouscommenter says:

    I’m an MCT from Turkey. I’m currently running Windows 8.1 at my system. I have created a new VM based on Windows Server 2012 and imported MOC vms to this virtual machine’s Hyper-V instance successfully. I can also export MOC VM’s from this instance and
    finally I can import them back to Windows 8.1 Hyper-V instance.

    However, there is an issue with export-import process. Let’s say you have Base Disks right? For some reason, Base disks are duplicated inside VM’s own folder during export and I cannot specify them as shared disks for vms. Earlier, VMS would be able to pick
    base disks from C:Program FilesMicrosoft LearningBase directory right? Now, it only works when base disks are kept inside vm’s own folder.

    Let’s say you have 5 vms using same base disk. Then you would have 5 copies of same base disk created on volume(s).

    One thing came into my mind was to edit configuration files of VMS but i didn’t see any reference to Base Disks. It has reference to OS VHD but not Base ones.

    Another idea is creating symbolic links but I haven’t tested this before.

    My question is for other MCT’s and for people with knowledge. What should I do? I don’t want to go back to Windows 8, or Windows 2012 on my main system.

    Microsoft should have think this carefully before relasing new OS.

    Ismet D.

  34. Ismet – since the MOC courses use base VHDs, getting the multiple exported duplicates is expected as the exported VM needs to stand on its feet at that point.

    I would also be asking the MCT program folks to see what is their timeline for updating images. The new program year recently started – were there any updates shared?


  35. anonymouscommenter says:

    Could you provide some more detail on the section "Original Hyper-V Server & VMs Available" with regard to "simply copy over the VM folders to the Windows 2012 R2 server"? From where to where? And what is pointed at to do the Import.

  36. anonymouscommenter says:

    I am not importing from 2008 R2 .,,, I extract all vms on windows 8.1 when importing I got error did not find virtual machine . I extracted MOC exchange 2013 MOC on windows 8.1 Professional. Hyper-v is enable , all extraction is done well. during importing
    all vms on same host windows 8.1 I got the error.


  37. @Faisal – Please check with the MOC setup guide. The last I heard on this the courses require Win 8 or Server 2012.


  38. @Michael – please take a peek at this post.


  39. anonymouscommenter says:

    Wow, I just wasted my entire day because of this stupid bean-counter idea called "lets randomly remove features and give the usual terrible-error messages to scare our users". This blog might have saved my ass, but still makes me feel like MS kicked it
    first. Why is this NOT an automated "update VM now" tool? Why do this at all?

  40. anonymouscommenter says:

    Yeah, I just used Veeam free to move these puppies over.

  41. anonymouscommenter says:

    Microsoft is one stop company where it will try to build all the solution if other company is createing but all useless waste and weird

    Thanks Construction, mechnanical isn’t in their hand these Microsoft might have developed Building Machinery houses which can never work and people might have gone MAD

  42. anonymouscommenter says:

    dear friends i got… what is meant by middle-tier virtual hard disk? in trainer setup guide

  43. anonymouscommenter says:

    When you say just copy the vm folders to the 2012 r2 server, do you mean the c:userspublichyper-v folder? Do I need to copy the c:appdatamicrosoftwindowshyper-v directory also?

  44. Mike – this is referring to all the files that make up the VM.

    This is a copy from a 2012 box to a 2012 R2 box?


  45. anonymouscommenter says:

    This would be a copy from 2008 R2 to a 2012 R2 box.

  46. Then copy over all the files that make up the VM. Do not export it first. I don’t know what you have in each location.


  47. anonymouscommenter says:

    I had to delete all the snapshots for the VM, and it did some kind of merge. After the merge I stopped the Hyper-v services, and copied the files to the new server, and created a new VM using the vhd file from the old server. That worked. I only needed
    to input the servers newtork info (ip address), and everything worked fine.

  48. anonymouscommenter says:

    Information was good,i like your post.
    Looking forward for more on this topic.

    Edit – links removed.

  49. anonymouscommenter says:

    Great article …Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.

    Edit – links removed.

  50. anonymouscommenter says:

    this is too much of stories than few steps to follow

  51. anonymouscommenter says:

    So MS expects me to take an entire Hyper-V hosting system down so I can copy a directory out of it because they INTENTIONALLY broke my ability to move the VM via the export mechanism? It’s not like I need those other 8 VMs for the several hours it will
    take to copy a couple TB of data. Oh, wait…

  52. Great post. Thank you.

  53. anonymouscommenter says:

    One of the popular topics lately has revolved around the Hyper-V Did Not Find Virtual Machines To Import

  54. anonymouscommenter says:

    Hello. The VM is exported from Hyper-V 2008 that is why you cannot import it in 2012 R2. You must import it first on a Hyper-V 2008 R2 host then copy the files on the 2012 R2 host. That way will work. If you do not have a 2008 R2 host you cand create a
    new one and attach the VHD.

  55. anonymouscommenter says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH.. Your article was life savor for me..

  56. anonymouscommenter says:

    Hello message board. This is a message.

    This is the end of my message.

  57. Danny says:

    I’ve run into this problem.
    I can move the core VHD and create and new VM and attache the virtual-HD.
    The issue is, I need to be able to move the snapshots and be available once the VHD has moved too.
    The primary/host machine is 2008, the replacement is 2012 R2.

    I just can’t seem to find a way of transferring it all over and being functional without having to build a 2008 R2 box then doing the export.

  58. Danny says:

    I’ve run into this problem.
    I can move the core VHD and create and new VM and attach the virtual-HD.
    The issue is, I need to be able to move the snapshots and be available once the VHD has moved too.
    The primary/host machine is 2008, the replacement is 2012 R2.

    I just can’t seem to find a way of transferring it all over and being functional without having to build a 2008 R2 box then doing the export.

  59. Chris Miles says:

    This change makes no sense. Why not support the older version? Especially since products like SharePoint eval 2013 will only run on Server 2008? Additionally, rather than the error message being cryptic (and forcing us to waste time (and later google) a solution/explanation- wouldn’t it have been easier to simply create an error message with additional info such as “unable to import legacy server VM export into this version of windows server?

  60. Chris Miles says:

    This change makes no sense. Why not support the older version? Especially since products like SharePoint eval 2013 will only run on Server 2008? Additionally, rather than the error message being cryptic (and forcing us to waste time (and later google) a solution/explanation- wouldn’t it have been easier to simply create an error message with additional info such as “unable to import legacy server VM export into this version of windows server?”

    1. Hi Chris,

      I have the same issue with the Exchange evals, they also expect the older version of Hyper-V. The workarounds here are the best that I can offer.


  61. RuthJ says:

    Thank you. The Import into Win2008 R2 then copy across into Windows 10 Hyper V works fine too.

  62. Tomaz says:

    Thanks for your article. I lost a lot of time with exporting 2008 R2 machines to finally found out, that import on 2012 r2 does not work.
    Your article helped me a lot!

    1. Good news 🙂


  63. Labeeb says:

    Very helpful

  64. Darren Chabot says:

    Was just about to panic….thank God I read this blog (and watched a bit of Dad’s Army)

    1. Jolly good effort, old chap!

      I see that you have been highly trained in Britishness and the ilk!


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