Microsoft has made available a free utility though Sysinternals, called Disk2vhd, that creates Virtual Hard Disk versions of physical disks for Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines.
According to Mark Russinovich, a Microsoft technical fellow and founder of Sysinternals, the tool enables the conversion of physical systems into virtual ones while systems are online, so there is no downtime during a conversion.
"That's useful for server or workstation consolidation, creating test machines, or for reproducing problems by capturing a copy of a system experiencing one," Russinovich said via email.
"Prior to this tool, admins would have to either shut the system down and perform an offline capture of the system, or download and install System Center Virtual Machine Manager, a fairly large product, just to use its P2V functionality," Russinovich said. "Now they can just download and run Disk2vhd or run it directly from SysInternals, which is less than 1MB in size, and convert a system while it's running."
Disk2vhd uses the Volume Snapshot capability in Windows XP to create snapshots of the volumes included in a conversion. Disk2vhd can then create the Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs) on local volumes, even ones being converted, according to Microsoft's TechNet website.
The tool preserves the disk's partitioning information but only copies the data contents for volumes on the disk that are selected, so IT administrators can capture just system volumes and exclude data volumes.
Disk2vhd runs on Windows XP SP2, Windows Server 2003 SP1 and higher. More information and the Disk2vhd download can be found on TechNet.
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