How can I backup Windows software to a virtual machine without having to re-install the operating system and software from scratch?

Joseph Videtto December 27, 2012

What’s the easiest way to back up my Windows XP and Windows 7 software to a VM withOUT having to re-install the operating system and all the software from scratch?

If you do have an easy way – can you share some of the details and ‘gotchas’ (things to watch out for), please.

  1. Nicola De Ieso
    December 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I remember that exists a software from Paragon, called Paragon to Virtual that is useful for create a virtual copy of your installation.

  2. Alex Schnapps
    December 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

    For example - Disk2vhd utility. I prefer to use the Paragon program for it. Safe and convenient, I've done it many times.

  3. Junil Maharjan
    December 28, 2012 at 5:00 am

    clone your hard drive.

  4. Mike
    December 28, 2012 at 12:24 am

    I'm not sure I fully understand your goal.

    If you want to create a virtual machine out of your current installation including all software you can use a converter tool like VMware vCenter Converter.

    The resulting image can be used with either VMware products (Workstation, Fusion, Player) or used with VirtualBox (with little work)

    You can also migrate directly to VirtualBox

    However, neither really qualifies as a backup of your software.
    While all data would be present in the VM, to restore it on your current system you'd have to manually restore all its resources which may include the program folder, additional installs like frameworks, all registry keys and references the software uses ~ unless the software is portable or self-healing this can be quite extensive.

    The only other solution is creating an entire system image as described before but restoring from this image will also reintroduce any issues, bugs or errors you had at the time the image was created.

  5. Sashritha Peiris
    December 27, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    You could copy your program onto a usb hard drive or flash drive and then copy the files off the flash drive or hard drive onto the VM

  6. ha14
    December 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5 : Converting Backup Archive of a Windows System to a Virtual Machine

    Acronis Restored Windows XP crashes with BSOD on startup

    Restoring the full VMware virtual machine

    How to Create a Virtual Machine With Windows Backup

  7. Yiz Borol
    December 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I don't know how to do it with XP but windows 7 allows you to create a system image.
    then all you have to do is install that to the VM and you should have all your programs n' stuff up and running as soon as it's installed.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      You can also create system image in XP via third party software. Backup tools like Norton Ghost (not freeware!) or freewares like Macrium Reflect will allow you to image your computer. Things to watch out for? You need quite amount of free space to store the image, and of course, be careful not to delete it when you want to format your computer.

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