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

This topic 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 managment and provides better availability when the VM is placed in an availability set.

If you want to use a sample script, see Sample script to upload a VHD to Azure and create a new VM

Before you begin

Generalize the Windows VM 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 How to Use Sysprep: An Introduction.

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


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

  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 selected.
  4. In Shutdown Options, select Shutdown.
  5. Click OK.

    Start Sysprep

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

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 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.

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

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 East US region, type:

    New-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name myResourceGroup -Location "East 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 "East 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 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-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

Save the Destination URI path to use later if you are going to create a managed disk or a new VM using the uploaded VHD.

Other options for uploading a VHD

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

Create a managed image from the uploaded VHD

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

  1. First, set the common parameters:

    $vmName = "myVM"
    $computerName = "myComputer"
    $vmSize = "Standard_DS1_v2"
    $location = "East US" 
    $imageName = "yourImageName"
  2. Create the image using your generalized OS VHD.

    $imageConfig = New-AzureRmImageConfig -Location $location
    $imageConfig = Set-AzureRmImageOsDisk -Image $imageConfig -OsType Windows -OsState Generalized -BlobUri $urlOfUploadedImageVhd
    $image = New-AzureRmImage -ImageName $imageName -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Image $imageConfig

Create a virtual network

Create the vNet and subnet of the virtual network.

  1. Create the subnet. This example creates a subnet named mySubnet with the address prefix of

    $subnetName = "mySubnet"
    $singleSubnet = New-AzureRmVirtualNetworkSubnetConfig -Name $subnetName -AddressPrefix
  2. Create the virtual network. This example creates a virtual network named myVnet with the address prefix of

    $vnetName = "myVnet"
    $vnet = New-AzureRmVirtualNetwork -Name $vnetName -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Location $location `
        -AddressPrefix -Subnet $singleSubnet

Create a public IP address and network interface

To enable communication with the virtual machine in the virtual network, you need a public IP address and a network interface.

  1. Create a public IP address. This example creates a public IP address named myPip.

    $ipName = "myPip"
    $pip = New-AzureRmPublicIpAddress -Name $ipName -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Location $location `
        -AllocationMethod Dynamic
  2. Create the NIC. This example creates a NIC named myNic.

    $nicName = "myNic"
    $nic = New-AzureRmNetworkInterface -Name $nicName -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Location $location `
        -SubnetId $vnet.Subnets[0].Id -PublicIpAddressId $pip.Id

Create the network security group and an RDP rule

To be able to log in to your VM using RDP, you need to have a network security rule (NSG) that allows RDP access on port 3389.

This example creates an NSG named myNsg that contains a rule called myRdpRule that allows RDP traffic over port 3389. For more information about NSGs, see Opening ports to a VM in Azure using PowerShell.

$nsgName = "myNsg"
$ruleName = "myRdpRule"
$rdpRule = New-AzureRmNetworkSecurityRuleConfig -Name $ruleName -Description "Allow RDP" `
    -Access Allow -Protocol Tcp -Direction Inbound -Priority 110 `
    -SourceAddressPrefix Internet -SourcePortRange * `
    -DestinationAddressPrefix * -DestinationPortRange 3389

$nsg = New-AzureRmNetworkSecurityGroup -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Location $location `
    -Name $nsgName -SecurityRules $rdpRule

Create a variable for the virtual network

Create a variable for the completed virtual network.

$vnet = Get-AzureRmVirtualNetwork -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Name $vnetName

Get the credentials for the VM

The following cmdlet will open a window where you will enter a new user name and password to use as the local administrator account for remotely accessing the VM.

$cred = Get-Credential

Add the VM name and size to the VM configuration.

$vm = New-AzureRmVMConfig -VMName $vmName -VMSize $vmSize

Set the VM image as source image for the new VM

Set the source image using the ID of the managed VM image.

$vm = Set-AzureRmVMSourceImage -VM $vm -Id $image.Id

Set the OS configuration and add the NIC.

Enter the storage type (PremiumLRS or StandardLRS) and the size of the OS disk. This example sets the account type to PremiumLRS, the disk size to 128 GB and disk caching to ReadWrite.

$vm = Set-AzureRmVMOSDisk -VM $vm -DiskSizeInGB 128 `
-CreateOption FromImage -Caching ReadWrite

$vm = Set-AzureRmVMOperatingSystem -VM $vm -Windows -ComputerName $computerName `
-Credential $cred -ProvisionVMAgent -EnableAutoUpdate

$vm = Add-AzureRmVMNetworkInterface -VM $vm -Id $nic.Id

Create the VM

Create the new VM using the configuration stored in the $vm variable.

New-AzureRmVM -VM $vm -ResourceGroupName $rgName -Location $location

Verify that the VM was created

When complete, you should see the newly created VM in the Azure portal under Browse > Virtual machines, or by using the following PowerShell commands:

    $vmList = Get-AzureRmVM -ResourceGroupName $rgName

Next steps

To sign in to your new virtual machine, browse to the VM in the portal, click Connect, and open the Remote Desktop RDP file. Use the account credentials of your original virtual machine to sign in to your new virtual machine. For more information, see How to connect and log on to an Azure virtual machine running Windows.