Copy An Existing Windows Installation Into a Virtual Machine

Why use a Virtual machine anyway ?

Two reasons. First – you don’t want to restart the computer just because some software program or a computer game is incompatible with Windows7. You want to run Windows XP within Windows 7, to avoid system restart every now and then.

Second, some programs or software applications may harm or completely crash your system. If you are a software junkie and try new programs every other day, it would be a good idea to perform experiments on a virtual machine. This will ensure that the main Windows installation is not affected and the system performance is fast and fresh.

There are programs like VirtualBox, Vmware Workstation which will let you install a virtual machine on your existing operating system. But the problem with these applications is that you have to install a new operating system from scratch. That’s quite a hassle and it would be better if you can convert your existing windows operating system into a virtual machine.

We have earlier reviewed Microsoft Virtual PC, the program let’s you create a virtual machine in windows. Paragon Go virtual is another program which can be used to copy your current operating system into a virtual machine. Here are the steps:

1. Download Paragon Go Virtual and install the application on Windows7. During installation, you will have to register for a free serial, which will be sent to your email address.

2. Once the installation is complete, restart Windows7 for the changes to take effect.

3. Reboot windows and run the program. Start the P2V copy wizard and select your primary windows partition, as shown below:

The wizard will help you copy an entire hard drive or selected partitions to the virtual machine.

4. The program will automatically detect the installed operating system on your primary partition and will ask you to choose a virtual software vendor. You can choose between Vmware, Virtualbox or Microsoft Virtual PC.

5. Hit “Next” and select the virtual machine properties which includes choosing a name, cpu number and the assigned memory limit you want to dedicate to the virtual machine (when running).

6. Choose a location where you want to save the virtual machine’s files. You can save it on any windows partition, apart from the operating system partition (requires at least 7 GB of space for a fairly new Windows7 installation).

7. Hit “Next” and the application will copy the active windows partition and convert the existing windows installation into a virtual machine.

Copy Active Windows Partition to a virtual machine

This is useful in several situations e.g you don’t want to test a new antivirus program and doubt whether it can slow down your system. Or, a computer game works fine in Windows XP but never starts in Windows 7.  Or may be you have finally decided to give Ubuntu a try but want to use it occasionally, without having to restart windows.

Related: Install Chrome OS using a virtual machine

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