About Physical-to-Virtual Machine Conversions

In Virtual Machine Manager, a physical-to-virtual machine conversion (P2V conversion) is the process by which a functioning physical computer is copied ("converted") to an identical, or nearly identical, virtual machine. During a P2V conversion, disk images of the hard disks on the physical computer are created and formatted as virtual hard disks (.vhd files) for use in the new virtual machine. The new virtual machine has the same computer identity (ComputerName.DomainName) as the physical computer on which it is based.

Virtual Machine Manager supports conversion of physical machines running the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 4 (SP4)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 or later
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later

Any server running one of these operating systems can be converted unless it is a server that is already managed by Virtual Machine Manager (such as a host server or library server).

Before You Start

Before you begin a P2V conversion, review the following requirements and limitations:

  • Host server requirements. A P2V conversion requires that the host is a computer running Virtual Server R2 SP1 or later. In Virtual Machine Manager, which is built on and works with Virtual Server technology, a host is a physical computer on which the Virtual Machine Manager agent software is installed (in addition to Virtual Server software) and that serves as a host on which you can deploy one or more virtual machines.
  • Online versus offline P2V conversion. In an offline P2V conversion, the source machine is rebooted into the Windows preinstallation environment (WinPE) to image the physical disks. In an online P2V conversion, the source machine is not rebooted during the P2V process.
  • Offline P2V conversion AIK requirement. A P2V conversion requires that the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) be installed on the Virtual Machine Manager server for any offline P2V conversion. This includes the conversion of any computer running Windows 2000 Server SP4 (which always requires a reboot) as well as the conversion of any computer running Windows Server 2003. To download the AIK, go to http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=86477.
  • Offline P2V conversion memory requirement. An offline P2V conversion requires that the source machine have at least 512 MB of physical memory.
  • Offline P2V conversion driver requirements. A P2V conversion requires that any offline conversion supply the most recent driver. Use one of the following drivers (listed in order of priority):
    • Windows Vista 32-bit
    • Windows XP 32-bit
    • Windows Server 2003 32-bit
    • Windows 2000 Server 32-bit
  • Offline P2V conversion failure that you do not want to retry immediately. If an offline P2V conversion fails and you do not want to retry the job immediately, you must locally uninstall the P2V agent from the source machine (or run the Remove-MachineConfig cmdlet) to ensure that the source machine can successfully restart with its original operating system.
  • Updates requirement (if needed). A P2V conversion might require that additional files be added to the internal Virtual Machine Manager patch cache. In this case, when you run the Convert Physical Server Wizard, if updates are required, do the following:
    • Use information provided in an error message that appears when you run the wizard to identify what updates are required.
    • Obtain a copy of the patch files and copy the files to the Patch Import directory on the Virtual Machine Manager server (the default path is <C>:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007\Patch Import).
    • Click Check Again and continue running the wizard.
  • Basic boot.ini format only. Virtual Machine Manager supports only basic boot.ini format (//multi(X)disk(Y)rdisk(Z)partition(W)\<winnt_dir>).
  • Unsupported boot options. Virtual Machine Manager P2V does not support /HAL or /KERNEL boot options.
  • Bad sectors do not transfer. Bad sectors on disk cannot be transferred during a P2V conversion. To avoid data loss, it is recommended that you run a disk maintenance tool such as Chkdsk on the source machine to detect and correct any file system errors before initiating the P2V process.

See Also


About Virtual Machines

Other Resources

How to Convert a Physical Server to a Virtual Machine