Upload a Windows VHD from an on-premises VM to Azure

This article shows you how to create and upload a Windows virtual hard disk (VHD) to be used in creating an Azure Vm. You can upload a VHD from either a generalized VM or a specialized VM.

For more details about disks and VHDs in Azure, see About disks and VHDs for virtual machines.

Prepare the VM

You can upload both generalized and specialized VHDs to Azure. Each type requires that you prepare the VM before starting.

  • Generalized VHD - a generalized VHD has had all of your personal account information removed using Sysprep. If you intend to use the VHD as an image to create new VMs from, you should:

  • Specialized VHD - a specialized VHD maintains the user accounts, applications and other state data from your original VM. If you intend to use the VHD as-is to create a new VM, ensure the following steps are completed.

    • Prepare a Windows VHD to upload to Azure. Do not generalize the VM using Sysprep.
    • Remove any guest virtualization tools and agents that are installed on the VM (i.e. VMware tools).
    • Ensure the VM is configured to pull its IP address and DNS settings via DHCP. This ensures that the server obtains an IP address within the VNet when it starts up.

Log in to Azure

If you don't already have PowerShell version 1.4 or above installed, read How to install and configure Azure PowerShell.

  1. Open Azure PowerShell and sign in to your Azure account. A pop-up window opens for you to enter your Azure account credentials.

  2. Get the subscription IDs for your available subscriptions.

  3. Set the correct subscription using the subscription ID. Replace <subscriptionID> with the ID of the correct subscription.

     Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionId "<subscriptionID>"

Get the storage account

You need a storage account in Azure to store the uploaded VM image. You can either use an existing storage account or create a new one.

To show the available storage accounts, type:


If you want to use an existing storage account, proceed to the Upload the VM image section.

If you need to create a storage account, follow these steps:

  1. You need the name of the resource group where the storage account should be created. To find out all the resource groups that are in your subscription, type:


    To create a resource group named myResourceGroup in the West US region, type:

     New-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name myResourceGroup -Location "West US"
  2. Create a storage account named mystorageaccount in this resource group by using the New-AzureRmStorageAccount cmdlet:

     New-AzureRmStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName myResourceGroup -Name mystorageaccount -Location "West US" `
         -SkuName "Standard_LRS" -Kind "Storage"

    Valid values for -SkuName are:

    • Standard_LRS - Locally redundant storage.
    • Standard_ZRS - Zone redundant storage.
    • Standard_GRS - Geo redundant storage.
    • Standard_RAGRS - Read access geo redundant storage.
    • Premium_LRS - Premium locally redundant storage.

Upload the VHD to your storage account

Use the Add-AzureRmVhd cmdlet to upload the image to a container in your storage account. This example uploads the file myVHD.vhd from "C:\Users\Public\Documents\Virtual hard disks\" to a storage account named mystorageaccount in the myResourceGroup resource group. The file will be placed into the container named mycontainer and the new file name will be myUploadedVHD.vhd.

$rgName = "myResourceGroup"
$urlOfUploadedImageVhd = "https://mystorageaccount.blob.core.windows.net/mycontainer/myUploadedVHD.vhd"
Add-AzureRmVhd -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Destination $urlOfUploadedImageVhd `
    -LocalFilePath "C:\Users\Public\Documents\Virtual hard disks\myVHD.vhd"

If successful, you get a response that looks similar to this:

MD5 hash is being calculated for the file C:\Users\Public\Documents\Virtual hard disks\myVHD.vhd.
MD5 hash calculation is completed.
Elapsed time for the operation: 00:03:35
Creating new page blob of size 53687091712...
Elapsed time for upload: 01:12:49

LocalFilePath           DestinationUri
-------------           --------------
C:\Users\Public\Doc...  https://mystorageaccount.blob.core.windows.net/mycontainer/myUploadedVHD.vhd

Depending on your network connection and the size of your VHD file, this command may take a while to complete

Next steps