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Problems converting laptop to VM

Posted on 2011-03-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I am trying to do a P2V conversion of my old business laptop so that I can carry it around as a VM inside my new one. The machine is an Acer 4230 running XP Pro SP3, the disk is partitioned into a small utility partition and then a C: drive and D: drive of about 40GB each.

I downloaded VMWare Converter Standalone onto the machine and have been trying for about 2 weeks to get a conversion to complete, but the process always fails at around 40% during cloning of Drive C with the error "FAILED: A general system error occurred: Operation was cancelled", which is stunningly unhelpful.

While trying to figure out what the problem might be, I have

- freed up a bunch of space on C: and D: to reduce what is cloned
- defragged and fully chkdsked C: and D:
- tried cloning to various different network and USB drives
- ensured that I am logged in as the local admin account
- ensured that msconfig is used to disable almost all the startup entries (except Service Manager) and all non-MS services except the VMWare ones
- I have checked that the power management is not trying to shut anything down , and no screen saver is set

The target for the P2V operation is simply a folder either on a USB drive plugged into the machine or on my local LAN. In either case I have full access rights to the target.

This is my first attempt to do a P2V conversion and my past pleasurable experiences with VMWare Workstation (the only other VMWare product I use) led me to believe that this would be a snap - I have been sorely disappointed!

Major kudos (and points!) to anyone who can sort this out - this is holding back a bunch of other stuff, and I'm fed up lugging an extra laptop around all the time.

I would attach the log files but the webisite is bitching about the .gz files in the zip - any suggestions for getting around this? Also, whenever I select Export Logs I always get a popup saying that the logfiles related to the selected task were not found, but I have no idea how to correct this either.
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Question by:rjebb
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19 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:mpilarczyk
ID: 35210188
Try to make Converter Boot CD and convert offline machine to network location.
Sometimes older v3 Converter works when new v4 fails.
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 35210196
"General system error", as you say, ranks right up there with unhelpful messages.  But perhaps it means an actual error occurred in the host.  Does the host system's Event Viewer show anything unusual happening at the time the problem occurs?
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Luciano Patrão
ID: 35210199
Hi

You cannot convert USB drives.

If you have any USB hard disks connect to that laptop, just unplugged and try the P2V again.

Converter will use that USB disk drives as a normal hard disk, and will crash

Jail
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Author Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35210429
In answer to the various comments:

1) USB drives - I am not trying to convert any USB drives, I am simply using a USB drive to store the VM that is generated by the P2V conversion process. The only drive being converted is the hard disk in the laptop.

2) Have checked the Event Viewer, and there is nothing there that matches the error timestamp in the converter. Whatever is happening, it appears to be fairly consistent, and is presumably occurring when the cloning process encounters something it doesn't like on the C: drive. I have noticed that immediately prior to the conversion failing, the hard disk light on the laptop goes off for a while before the error message is displayed, I don't know whether this is significant. It's definitely not starting the D: drive though, as at least 75% of the data to be copied is on the C: drive.

3) Boot CD: how do I do this? Where would I find a v3 CD image? I don't recall seeing it as a downloadable option on the VMWare site

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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:mpilarczyk
ID: 35210498
Converter Enterprise BootCD is available for download as a part of VMware vCenter Server 2.5 package - for enterprise licensed customers.
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Author Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35210535
That rules me out then, the only licensed product we are currently using is Workstation
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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Dr. Klahn
ID: 35210549
If it's a drive hard error, it should be appearing in the system logs.  However, if it is a correctable error that stalls the drive for a while, a timeout may be occurring.  If that is the case, an error should be appearing in the drive's internal SMART log.

PassMark Disk Checkup can both read the drive's current SMART status and create a log of its ongoing SMART status.  Running SMART log during the conversion process with an interval of about 30 seconds would reveal whether the drive is throwing any errors, whether correctable or uncorrectable.
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

by:mcsween
ID: 35210573
Can you please post your converter logs here?

XP - C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Converter Enterprise\Logs
Vista/7 - C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\VMware\VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Client
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Luciano Patrão
ID: 35210686
Hi

For using BootCD you need a VMware Enterprise Plus license.

Try to check my article regarding the P2V to perform a good and sucess conversion.

Even the article is focus on using col migration(BootCD) you can also use the same tasks and process to convert using VMware vConverter Standalone.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/A_3639-VMware-vConverter-P2V-for-Windows-Servers.html

Are you installing the vConverter in the laptop? Or are you using a remote conversion?

Do a local conversion. Install the vConverter into that labtop and start the migration.

If you will stop the non windows services, do not stop the vConverter service.

Hope this can help.

Jail
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Author Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35211071
mcsween, I seem to be accumulating log files in the folder you mention, but hopefully this selection will let you see what may be going on - if you need more/others let me know logs.zip
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:mpilarczyk
ID: 35211104
Do you have any firewall on the laptop?
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Luciano Patrão
ID: 35211118
Hi

Not much information. Just some time outs. Maybe the problem, or not.

But since you are trying to convert directly to a USB device, maybe this can be the issue.

Do you have that USB connected to your laptop and trying to convert from local to USB?

Like I said before, this is a local conversion, or are you using remote and converter agent on the labtop?

Jail
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Author Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35211248
Firewall - WIndows Firewall, but it is turned off

I am doing a local conversion with the converter installed on the laptop and attempting to write the VM to an external USB drive. I have also tried a different USB drive and using a network share, but I get the same problem each time.

As suggested by BestWay in his article, I have just run ccleaner on the machine although apart from the registry there was not much crud there to tidy up. I am now running MyDefrag to see if that makes a difference. I was not that impressed with the state that the MS defragger left the disk in, this PC has been used for 5 years to develop software and a great many files have been moved, deleted and created in that time.
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Luciano Patrão
ID: 35211304
Hi

Some times undefrag disks can be an issue. Not often, but can be some times.

My concern is that you are using that USB connect to the laptop that you are trying to convert. Some times convert confuses this USB connection, and act like a normal disk and then crash.

Try to plug that USB to a different machine, and use a share network folder to copy the files over. Do not plug any USB devices into that labtop

JAil
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Author Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35211355
OK BestWay, I'll give this a try but it will have to wait until its finished defragging the disk - I'll post what happens (probably going to be tomorrow now)
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:mpilarczyk
ID: 35211369
You can also try to disable any kind of power saving - hibernation, turning off disks after specific time.
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Author Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35235985
Latest update: I am fairly sure I have turned off all power saving features when the laptop is running on mains power, and there is no screen saver either. I ran myDefrag on drive C: and did a "system monthly" job, which took about 24 hours.

For interest I then tried to repeat what I had previouisly been doing, with the VM being written to an external USB drive. This now gets to 44% rather than 42%, but still fails with a "general error".

Then I tried to write to a network share without the USB drive connected, and the process failed immediately saying that it could not do a snapshot, even though there are gigabytes of free space on both C: and D:. Plugging the USB drive back in lets the process carry on past 1%, but it still fails at 44%.

I have not yet defragged D: throroughly, but that is about the last thing I can think of doing. Can anyone explain why I need the external drive plugged in?
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Accepted Solution

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rjebb earned 0 total points
ID: 35276550
I now have a VM up and running on my new laptop.

I decided to spend a little time investigating why things failed at 1% with a "failed to take snapshot" error if I didn't have a USB drive plugged into the laptop, and after checking the Event Log discovered it was because VSS requires an NTFS drive on which to store its diff data. The laptop is about 5 years old and was shipped with FAT32 partitions.

After defragging D: anyway, I converted both partitions to NTFS and reran the converter without an external drive plugged in. It took much longer to perform the conversion but the process succeeded. I was not able to do this when I first thought about the conversion because there was too much data on the disk; during various earlier attempts at conversion I removed enough to allow defrag/convert to take place.

I then had to reenter my original OEM Windows licence code for activation to work for the VM, but I now appear to be in business.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, even if they did not ultimately point me at the solution.
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Author Closing Comment

by:rjebb
ID: 35321650
I am proposing my own comment as the ssolution because the various experts had not suggested the procedure that actually resolved the problem - I worked it out for myself
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