Upload a generalized VHD and use it to create new VMs in Azure

This article walks you through using PowerShell to upload a VHD of a generalized VM to Azure, create an image from the VHD, and create a new VM from that image. You can upload a VHD exported from an on-premises virtualization tool or from another cloud. Using Managed Disks for the new VM simplifies the VM management and provides better availability when the VM is placed in an availability set.

For a sample script, see Sample script to upload a VHD to Azure and create a new VM.

Before you begin


This article has been updated to use the new Azure PowerShell Az module. You can still use the AzureRM module, which will continue to receive bug fixes until at least December 2020. To learn more about the new Az module and AzureRM compatibility, see Introducing the new Azure PowerShell Az module. For Az module installation instructions, see Install Azure PowerShell.

Generalize the source VM by using Sysprep

Sysprep removes all your personal account information, among other things, and prepares the machine to be used as an image. For details about Sysprep, see the Sysprep Overview.

Make sure the server roles running on the machine are supported by Sysprep. For more information, see Sysprep Support for Server Roles.


If you plan to run Sysprep before uploading your VHD to Azure for the first time, make sure you have prepared your VM.

  1. Sign in to the Windows virtual machine.

  2. Open the Command Prompt window as an administrator. Change the directory to %windir%\system32\sysprep, and then run sysprep.exe.

  3. In the System Preparation Tool dialog box, select Enter System Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE), and make sure that the Generalize check box is enabled.

  4. For Shutdown Options, select Shutdown.

  5. Select OK.

    Start Sysprep

  6. When Sysprep finishes, it shuts down the virtual machine. Do not restart the VM.

Get a storage account

You'll 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.

If you'll be using the VHD to create a managed disk for a VM, the storage account location must be the same location where you'll be creating the VM.

To show the available storage accounts, enter:

Get-AzStorageAccount | Format-Table

Upload the VHD to your storage account

Use the Add-AzVhd cmdlet to upload the VHD 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-AzVhd -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.

Other options for uploading a VHD

You can also upload a VHD to your storage account using one of the following:


If you are using AzCopy to upload your VHD to Azure, make sure you have set /BlobType:page before running your upload script. If the destination is a blob and this option is not specified, by default AzCopy creates a block blob.

Create a managed image from the uploaded VHD

Create a managed image from your generalized OS VHD. Replace the following values with your own information.

First, set some parameters:

$location = "East US" 
$imageName = "myImage"

Create the image using your generalized OS VHD.

$imageConfig = New-AzImageConfig `
   -Location $location
$imageConfig = Set-AzImageOsDisk `
   -Image $imageConfig `
   -OsType Windows `
   -OsState Generalized `
   -BlobUri $urlOfUploadedImageVhd `
   -DiskSizeGB 20
New-AzImage `
   -ImageName $imageName `
   -ResourceGroupName $rgName `
   -Image $imageConfig

Create the VM

Now that you have an image, you can create one or more new VMs from the image. This example creates a VM named myVM from myImage, in myResourceGroup.

New-AzVm `
    -ResourceGroupName $rgName `
    -Name "myVM" `
	-ImageName $imageName `
    -Location $location `
    -VirtualNetworkName "myVnet" `
    -SubnetName "mySubnet" `
    -SecurityGroupName "myNSG" `
    -PublicIpAddressName "myPIP" `
    -OpenPorts 3389

Next steps

Sign in to your new virtual machine. For more information, see How to connect and log on to an Azure virtual machine running Windows.