Virtualizing your PC so you can rebuild it (but still have a running copy of old setup).

I have been in several cases where i really want to rebuild my laptop (because its a complete mess), but don’t want to lose the way its setup.

I do a bit of development with Visual Studio, and invariably find I’ve had to download all sorts of SDKs and run-times and things to get projects working. I just know that if i copy the code to another build of Windows and open and run, there will be all sorts of things it relies on that i have completely forgotten i had to install to get working in the first place.

There’s also a number of other reasons i may want to go back to my pre-rebuild laptop setup if i cant get something working on the new build, or if i cant find something.

So, I decided to see if i could ‘virtualize’ (P2V) my current laptop setup and run it on Hyper-V if i need to get in to it (on top of my newly built Win 10). Run the VM from an external HDD.. yes not the fastest, but there if i need to gun up things as they were on my previous messy Windows setup and get what i need..

So i started looking for an up to date guide. I found this one on Veeams site. Its really good, and it works.

Thanks to whoever wrote the process.

https://www.veeam.com/blog/how-to-convert-physical-machine-hyper-v-virtual-machine-disk2vhd.html

Also needed to get my data drive of (250gb) over to the new image too so when i start the VM up, it has its E: as it was before so things all work. I followed this guide to create the E drive VHDX file so i could attach it. Its also a good time to get all my data and have another copy of it in this VHDX file.

https://www.windowscentral.com/how-create-and-set-vhdx-or-vhd-windows-10#create_vhdx_windows10

Here is the process i went through to do this successfully.

Downloaded Disk2VHD
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/disk2vhd

Extracted and Ran. Un-ticked the D drive (HP Recovery) and E: Drive (all my data to make the image as small as i could).
Plugged in an external drive (F) and created the VHDX of my bootable laptop on there.
Used these settings:

The cool thing is you can keep using Windows while it creates the image. I definitely wouldn’t be creating any new docs during the process, but i could still browse the web etc. Process took approx 2 hours and created a 194gb VHDX file (the C drive was using around 200 or 230gb).

II then repeated the process and chose just my data drive and created another VHDX file (E_Drive) – took another hour or so for 200gb ish.

On a completely different PC running Hyper-V, i plugged in the drive with my 2 VHDX files of my C Drive (and system resevered etc) and my E Drive.

I created a new VM on that machine. I browsed and attached the C drive and E drive, gave the box 8gb RAM and 4 cores and turned it on. Boom – theres my laptop running in a VM.

First time starting up, Windows took a while to rejig things and i saw this come up, but eventually i was presented with desktop to login.

I had the luxury of testing it all worked on another machine before going through the process of blitzing my laptop and starting again with a clean Windows Installation. STRONGLY suggest you do the same and not just assume this process will work for you. Once you nuke your laptop, its too late to go back.

I plan to have the VM setup in Hyper-V on the new Win 10 build so i can just plug in HDD and power on if i need it, but i have it working on this other Hyper-V server i have worst case scenario.