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rboggs2010Flag for United States of America

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Make an image of your operating system

I have read through many posts have not quite found what I am looking for.  If you have seen one, that would be awesome.

What I want to do is burn an .iso image of any current windows operating system and then be able to take that iso and mount it in a VM player.  This is for recovery purposes.  Basically, when I retire a machine, I want to take an image, and then reformat that machine once I verify that the image is good.

I do have a copy of Ghost 15, but I cant figure it out.  Paragon's software for backup and recovery works well, but it burns it to a .pbf format and is not useable with vmplayer.  I have tried MDT, but it makes a .wim.

Any suggestions?

Thank in advance
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Lee W, MVP
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http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415

Converting a Windows OS to an ISO is not likely to work and I don't think it's even possible (I assume you mean so that it runs like a Linux ISO).  You may be able to use third party tools to "migrate" the OS from physical to virtual (though this is typically done with server OSs not workstations).  

See also:
http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/
The short answer is you cannot image your system to ISO format, because ISOs are cd images and have a different structure, filesystem, booting process etc. from a regular hard disk.

Any form of physical->virtual migration is just that - a migration. It involves changing out the physical hardware in the system for virtual hardware provided by vmware / hyper-v, and that means reconfiguring windows. Disk2vhd is supposed to do some of this for you to prevent the inevitable bluescreens, but it is hit or miss.

But like all migrations - they aren't backups. They need to be carefully planned, and you should make backups of the system before attempting them incase it doesn't work. So I wouldn't use Disk2vhd, or any form of physical->virtual migration as a backup system.

If you're looking to take an image of your system, there's a few free tools to do that as you have already explored, but as you have discovered they save the disk image in a proprietary format. Most of these tools have some form of "bootable environment" for performing a restore. My personal preference is Runtime Software's "DriveImageXML", which can run either from a "hot" system, or from within a bootable winpe environment and come pre-installed on the rescue disk "The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (UBCD4WIN)", so I just burn a UBCD4WIN disc, boot from that, and do my backup.

http://www.ubcd4win.com/
Frosty555,

Unless I'm misreading and/or somehow missing it, your statement below is incorrect:
> Disk2vhd is supposed to do some of this for you to prevent the inevitable bluescreens, but it is hit or miss.
Where did you read/hear this?

For BACKUP purposes I see NO DIFFERENCE in creating an accessible VHD vs another third party image.  And again, I would not recommend attempting to BOOT the VHD - though frankly it may work.  The description of Disk2VHD reads "On first boot, a VM booting a captured copy of Windows will detect the VM's hardware and automatically install drivers, if present in the image." - this is NOT a function of Disk2VHD but a function of Windows upon detecting the hardware change a VM would have.
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I thiink VMware is the easiest, I have not tried disk to VHD as it may be the easiest being that I have two Hyper-v environments and have had much success with importing and migrating VHD's

Thanks all