How can I create a virtual machine of an existing Windows installation that shows blue-screens?

Michael Leone March 28, 2012
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My company just re-did its entire network from scratch with a new Windows SBS 2011 Server and all new Windows 7 Enterprise machines. However, I have a pathetically old XP machine with a special program on it – that is required to operate an instrument. The program doesn’t work under Windows 7 and I don’t have an install because the company that makes it is no longer in business. So I want to “virtualize” the machine because that PC may die any day now. We can’t replace the Instrument, because even though we ordered a replacement from a different company – it’s going to take them 18 months to build it. So I need to keep this machine for 18 months.

However I wanted to make a test run, so I took the hard-drive out of a Windows 7 x64 machine I have, connected it to my laptop and used disk2vhd to image it making sure to include the system reserved partition.

However, the machine BSOD’s and reboots without making a dump and it’s so fast I can’t read it or get a snapshot of it. So I boot the VM into Hiren’s and try to do a startup restore but it doesn’t fix it. When I boot the machine it BSODS and reboots back into “Windows did not start Correctly”

I’m assuming it’s a driver issue, but I can’t clone the hardware on the VM – or can I? Is there a way to make Windows forget its hardware profile.

This is only a test, but I don’t know if a Windows XP machine will act the same way. However, I’m not touching the XP machine until I have a work around.

  1. Lee
    April 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Another option would be Windows XP Mode. Since the computers are running Windows 7 Enterprise, you can iinstall XP Mode. It's basically just a virtual machine of XP.
    Here's the download link (you might need your IT department to install it for you if you don't have admin privileges): 

    Then, since you said you no longer have access to an install disk or download, you could try copying the program folder from your physical XP machine to the XP Mode VM on your Windows 7 machine. If the program doesn't depend on any registry entries or other files, then it should run fine (it will just run as if it were just installed if the settings were stored somewhere other than the same install directory). If it does depend on registry entries, you could try searching the registry for all keys with the name of the program. To open the registry editor, go to Start > Run > regedit. Then click Edit > Find Then export all those from the registry (with the key selected, go to File > Export and save the file) on the physical machine and import each file to the registry on the VM (double click the .reg files).

    It looks like you already found a solution but this is another option for anyone looking for something similar.

  2. Rziehm
    April 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    If I understand your problem you are really trying to protect yourself against something happening to the one machine (xp) you have that works with the instrumentation you have.  If that is the case I have a very "low tech" suggestion you might give a try.  Procure an identical machine (hardware wise) that you have xp running on.  (shouldn't be to difficult)-- then do a backup clone of your working machine onto the second machine.  If nothing else (assuming it works) you could then mess around with your "clone" as much as you want without fear of losing your critical instrumentation.

    March 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Hello, have you tried the Paragon Drive Copy software? It works really well and fast.  It is able to create an image of your system and it you so desire, you can convert it to a virtual machine.  Give it a try:

    • Alex
      July 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      I confirm it. Paragon's vitualizations product (HDM, B&R, Virtualization Manager,.. etc) really works.Can also repair a failed disk2vhd virtualization.

  4. Michael Leone
    March 29, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Can't get install to reload it. The company went out of business years ago. I ended up getting VMware's vCenter converter and got the machine virtual and connected and talking to the instrument. I then converted a copy of the VM to Hyper-V and put it on a server. I got RS-232/rs-422/rs-485 servers that connect to GbE that I put in VLANS. I've decided to virtualize all of my instrument controllers. I have a couple IBM x3630's running 2008 R2 Enterprise with Hyper-V that I will serve them from. Instead of 40 instrument machines, I only need 4 servers in fail-over clusters running 20 VM's each. I'm going to put a few thin clients with a keyboard, mouse and monitor in the lab to connect to the VM's and operate the instruments. I calculated the energy savings alone which is going to save me more than what I'm spending on the virtualization setup.

  5. Bruce Epper
    March 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    If you can boot the machine in Safe Mode, you can change your Advanced Settings to stop (and not auto-reboot) after a BSOD so you can read it.  Most likely it is related to a hardware driver.  You may be able to get around it with the Adjust OS feature in the Paragon Hard Disk Manager software.  You can check it out here:

  6. ha14
    March 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    doubt windows can forget entirely hardware configuration

    perhaps you missed some important system files, such as c:Boot folder 

  7. James Bruce
    March 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I assum eyouve already tried running this app on win7 in xp compatibility mode? I have yet to come across an old app that won't work, but it if operates some machinery then I guess it may rely on special drivers? Though if it does, it's very unlikely to work in a virtual machine either. Why not just a get a new machine and throw a new copy of xp on it just for this instrument?

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