Avatar of E C
E CFlag for United States of America

asked on 

VMWare Converter corrupts Windows 2008 / Exchange VM

I have a Dell 2950 running VMWare ESXi (4.1).
On top of this I have a VM running Windows 2008 Server R2 (64-Bit) and Exchange 2010 Server.

This VM runs fine and in fact, it is my company's Exchange Server.
I need to shrink the size of the C drive on this VM, so here's what I did:

1. I stopped all of my Exchange services
2. I set them all to disabled
3. I shut down the VM
4. Using VMWare Converter (standalone), I 'copied' the VM to a new VM.
5. At the same time, I reduced the size of one of the Virtual Disks from 220 GB to 120 GB.

Converter ran all night, and was *successful*.

However, if I log into vCenter, select my newly-cloned Exchange Server VM, and click 'Power On'...
... I see the BIOS screen
... then ... I see a message "Windows Error Recovery: Windows Failed to Start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause"

My options are:
- Launch Startup Repair (recommended)
- Start Windows Normally

If I select *either* option, the VM reboots. It's caught in a loop and will NOT boot into Windows.

I have tried converting my Exchange VM two more times, and each time I get the same result.

Why/how could VMWare converter corrupt the Operating System inside of the VM??!!
I thought these VMs were pretty bullet proof.

I have resized drives before and the VMs have always started up just fine.

Need to know how to fix. This is mildly annoying.
In the meantime, my original Exchange VM is running just fine.
VMwareWindows Server 2008Exchange

Avatar of undefined
Last Comment
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
Avatar of Sudhanshupathak
Flag of India image

as per my understanding its Driver issue, reboot in safe mode and try to remove all unwanted hidden drivers and devices and reboot.
Avatar of pjam
Flag of United States of America image

Like previous respondant said, You don't need your Dell programs and drivers for the converted server.
Avatar of Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
It might be better to perform the conversion of the VM, by installing Converter on the actually machine you need to convert. But ensure you shutdown the Exchange Services.

See the following best Practices

For the conversion steps, read fellow Expert Bestway's article.


Best Practice Video Guide here


Sometimes older versions of Converter 4.0 or 4.2 work better than 4.3.
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

Actually I would say use Converter Standalone 4.3 as older versions may not support Windows 2008 R2... I would have to look back at the release notes to be sure, but I believe that to be the case. So if you have an older version please upgrade the converter.
Avatar of BDoellefeld
Flag of United States of America image

I bypass converter all together and use Ghost by doing this;

1) Shutdown the VM
2) Add new disk
3) Boot from CD with Barts or Ultimate Boot CD with Ghost client CD (attach iso file)
4) Clone old C onto new disk
5) Shutdown
6) Remove (but NOT delete) the old disk from the VM
7) Boot and test.
It would be interesting if it's the resize which is causing the conversion, issue have you tried, converting without resizing? Is this what you have tried?

or are you wanting to repair this issue?
If you want to try another approach, you could always use this very small Clone Utility, to perform hot clone, (shutdown Exchange Services

Drive Snapshot.

Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


Good question. I have *not* tried converting without resizing. I can try that one night when I can get away with shutting down my Exchange server and trying again. The conversion takes several hours.

You mention installing VMWare Converter on the actual machine I am going to convert? (In other words, install Converter on my Exchange Server and run it from there?) COOL! I didn't realize you could do that. I was running it from the workstation on which I have vCenter installed. Maybe running it FROM the Exchange server will force the Converter to include the necessary info/drivers?)

The Ghost option is interesting, but I ALSO need to shrink the size of my C drive. (I am trying to move my Exchange Server from a physical machine that has one big RAID, to another physical server which has two RAIDS ... my goal is to get the C drive (with the Windows OS and Exchange Log Files) onto RAID A, and the D drive (with the actual Exchange Database) to RAID B). The only way I can get my C drive onto RAID A is by shrinking it down (which SHOULD NOT be a problem since it currently has 100gb free space)

I am using VMWare Converter Standalone version 4.3 build 292238   :-(    (I was hoping your comment would be the 'easy' solution but I am already using the latest version)

I'm betting you are correct ... however, I tried booting that cloned VM in Safe Mode, and it still 'loops' (i.e. reboots)

I believe Microsoft shifted to 'image-based' installations, meaning it is not possible to boot a Windows 2008 Server machine off of a disc, and run any sort of repair option.

I will install Converter on the actual Exchange Server, shut down/disable all Exchange Services, run the Converter and post back the results.
Thanks a ton everyone! I love EE ;-)

The recommended method is to install on the actual machine you are converting.
Ghost will also shrink the disk to the destination disk size if you force it.
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

How about some more information...

What is the partition style (GPT or MBR) I don't think GPT is supported...
What is the disk type (Basic or Dynamic)
Is this the C: (system disk)? Does it have the 100 MB Sytem reserved partition?
What disk controller is in use? IDE? LSI Parallel? LSI SAS? BusLogic?
Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


Yes, it is the C / System Disk I am trying to shrink.

Disk 0: Simple | Basic | NTFS
   100 MB NTFS System Reserved (System, Active)
   214.9 GB NTFS (Boot, Page File, Crash Dump, Primary Partition)

Disk 1: Simple | Basic | NTFS
   160 GB NTFS (Primary Partition)

Disk Controller is 'LSI Logic SAS', SCSI Bus Sharing set to 'None'

I will install VMWare Converter Standalone (latest version) onto the Exchange Server, Disable Exchange Services and run it from there, and post back to this thread.
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

I suspect you may be having issues with that 100MB Stub partition. Unless you plan on using BitLocker drive encryption on your server you don't even need it, and I suspect that may be the source of your difficulties.

What I would do is after shutting down exchange and getting in your maintenance window
1. Take a snapshot (in case you need to back out)

2. Run "bcdboot c:\windows /s c:" (no quotes) - that will create a copy of the boot files on the man 215GB C: partition and mark it active for boot

3. Reboot to make sure it all comes up ok

4. Run your conversion both resizing your C: drive, and excluding the 100MB stub drive from the conversion process

You will end up with a destination VM with only a single partition on the system drive that should boot up fine.

Good Luck
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

When doing a V2V my preference is to run the converter as you have been (from a seperate workstation) and do a cold convert with the vm powered down. However, as hanccocka recommends, for P2V conversions installing converter on the source machine to be converted often yields better results.
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

Also note that the bcdboot command must be issued from an elevated (run as Administrator) cmd prompt...
Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


update ...
I installed latest version of VMWare Converter Standalone directly onto my Exchange 2010 Server.
Stopped/Disabled all Exchange Services
Rebooted Server and let it run Disk Check on both C and D drive. (No errors found)
After logging back into Windows, I ran Converter.
Told it to shrink C drive AND move it to a new datastore.
D drive remains on current datastore.
Completed successfully

On the cloned VM, I noticed that when I went into 'Edit Settings' (in vCenter Server), the 'Guest Operating System' said 'Windows 7 (64-bit)'
???? Not sure why this happened.

Tried booting this VM. Same issue (starts to boot, then says Windows cannot start, then when I try to continue, the VM simply reboots)
I tried pressing F8 and selecting Safe Mode. No luck. (At some point while the drivers are loading, the screen flashes and the VM reboots)

Tried setting Guest Operating System to Windows 2008 Server R2 (64-bit)  (which is what this VM is running anyway).
Same issue.

So, now I am going to follow bgoering's advice:
- Make an exact clone of my Exchange Server
- Run bcdboot
- Try the conversion again, this time leaving off the 100mb Partition

I'll post back my results...
Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


I was able to run the bcdboot command and verify that the server still booted.

However, when I run Converter, it will not allow me to exclude that partition. The box next to it is checked, but it is greyed out.

I tried running Converter from within the Exchange Server, and from "outside" (i.e. I shut down the Exchange Server altogether and ran Converter from a separate computer. Still wont let me exclude the 100 mb Partition)

Any ideas?
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

You don't need the partition anymore. I am assumming you are working from a backup (or at least have a snapshot) - use gparted (http://gparted.sourceforge.net/) to remove that partition and combine the space into the rest of the drive.

Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


update 2...
If I simply 'clone' the VM, the clone boots up fine.

I think I am going to do this:
1. Clone the Exchange Server VM (straight clone, no modifications)
2. On the cloned VM, use Terabyte BING to resize the C drive
3. Manually move the C drive to RAID A, while keeping the D drive on RAID B

I am out of ideas.
In VMWare Converter, if I select the Exchange VM and click the 'details' button, a pop-up window appears showing me all of the specs on that VM. For whatever reason, VMWare thinks this is a Windows 7 64-bit machine.
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

That may work - I am not familier with "Terabyte BING." I do know you can use gparted to do much the same thing so far as resizing drives (and it is free).
Avatar of bgoering
Flag of United States of America image

So far as Windows 7 vs Windows 2008 R2 - they are pretty much the same thing architecturally (same as Vista and 2008 are same codebase, 2003 and XP are same codebase) so I don't know that would make much of a difference. Are you certain your source vm in edit settings -> options is set to 2008 R2?
Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


Yes, certain it is set to 2008 R2 64-bit.
Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image

Blurred text
View this solution by signing up for a free trial.
Members can start a 7-Day free trial and enjoy unlimited access to the platform.
See Pricing Options
Start Free Trial
Avatar of E C
Flag of United States of America image


Issue was resolved by using the new version of VMWare Converter (v5)
Question Submitted May 2011, Converter 5.0 released Sept 2011!

Exchange is the server side of a collaborative application product that is part of the Microsoft Server infrastructure. Exchange's major features include email, calendaring, contacts and tasks, support for mobile and web-based access to information, and support for data storage.

Top Experts
Get a personalized solution from industry experts
Ask the experts
Read over 600 more reviews


IBM logoIntel logoMicrosoft logoUbisoft logoSAP logo
Qualcomm logoCitrix Systems logoWorkday logoErnst & Young logo
High performer badgeUsers love us badge
LinkedIn logoFacebook logoX logoInstagram logoTikTok logoYouTube logo