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So the experiment I was working on the other day was successful and now I'm in the process of applying it to other selected servers. In short what I set out to do was to take an existing server I had running, and virtualize it so I could change things as needed and move the "server" to other physical network environments as needed for testing. To do this I've taken an HP DV9000 laptop with 2GB of RAM and am using it as the virtual PC host. The other steps are outlined below:

  1. Create a blank VPC with a new VHD that has roughly mirrors the existing setup. In my case I created a blank Windows 2003 VPC with a 70GB VHD.
  2. Using Acronis I created a disk image of the existing physical server. I then copied that image over to my HP laptop and put it in a shared directory so I could later access it using the Acronis Boot Media.
  3. Start the blank VPC and immediately go to CD and select to use your physical CD Drive (provided that's where you placed your Acronis Boot Disk).
  4. Acronis Loader will fire up in the VPC session and from there you navigate to your shared folder under "Computers Near Me" to select the image you want to restore.
  5. Go ahead and restore the image to the VPC - my images took between 30 mins to an hour to restore (12 and 13 GB images)
  6. Once the restore is complete you won't likely be able to boot the VPC due to driver changes, different HDD, etc. Don't panic - go to step 7 :)
  7. Restart your VPC but this time either go to CD and select to capture an ISO image or stick a Windows 2003 (in this case) install media in your drive.
  8. Let the Windows 2003 Install Media boot and select to do a Repair Installation.
  9. The Repair Installation is going to rip out a bunch of stuff from the existing Windows Install and plug in a new Windows Install - but all your other program settings (IIS, SQL, Etc.) will still be there.
  10. Once the Windows Repair Install is complete you'll likely need to re-activate Windows. In my case I wasn't able to use the web based activation, so I had to call in to activate. FWIW the call-in based activation runs a lot smoother these days than it did a few years ago (when I last tried it).
  11. Once you've re-activated Windows you'll need to hit the Windows Update site as you're going to need to re-apply a number of critical updates.
  12. Once it's all updated you should be good to go - a virtual clone of your existing physical server.

Now granted this may seem like a lot of pain to go through but in my case I had a number of specific web sites and web services set up as well as a number of custom created Windows services deployed to this server so in the end it was easier to do this (roughly 4.5 hours) than doing a complete fresh install of Windows to a VPC, Get IIS installed, Get it updated, and then start deploying web sites, web services and custom Windows services (in the past over 8 hours to do) - and in the end I have a more flexible version of my server that I can now rather easily (it's hosted on a laptop) move to a new physical location for some of our testing (it's a weather project which requires testing in some remote locations).

Hopefully this will help others who have a similar need to virtualize existing servers!

Posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 2:47 PM Tips and Tricks | Back to top


Comments on this post: Virtualize an existing physical server using Acronis and Virtual PC

# re: Virtualize an existing physical server using Acronis and Virtual PC
Requesting Gravatar...
Hey there, your blog popped up on a google for virtualizing and P2V. You gave me false hope!! haha, I tried your method using Driveimage.xml and Virtual PC 2007, but can't get to the backup media because I need to install the virtual machine additions before I can access shared folders, etc. I thought of putting the .tib image file into an iso and mounting it there... How did you get around that w/ your method? Were you using VPC version 2004? No MS VPC at all, but VMWare?

Thanks, man..
Left by Jay on Aug 28, 2008 1:06 PM

# re: Virtualize an existing physical server using Acronis and Virtual PC
Requesting Gravatar...
@ Jay...

You access the shared folders using the Acronis boot media. My method was to create an ISO and boot from that ISO instead of a physical CD-ROM. Then from within the Acronis bootstrap, you can access the shared folders.

@blog owner...

I'm taking a different approach to this sort of. I've screwed around trying to get things to work after restoring an acronis imaged server; now, this time, i'm including drivers to use during the restore. If you pop on my site, I've archived a batch script that uses DEVCON to backup your device drivers. Just search for DEVCON (microsoft tool) on my site or google. I'll let you know if this works instead of a Windows repair. Basically, I'm just applying MY drivers to the restore istead of the original system's drivers.

-R
Left by Rich on Oct 20, 2008 2:49 PM

# re: Virtualize an existing physical server using Acronis and Virtual PC
Requesting Gravatar...
Use Universal Restore, than u can add drivers u need under restore (raid etc)
http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products/ATICW/universal-restore.html
Left by Tore Jacobsen on May 07, 2009 3:43 AM

# re: Virtualize an existing physical server using Acronis and Virtual PC
Requesting Gravatar...
after restoring from a tib file, a new vhd system is very slowly...
Left by Bob on May 11, 2009 7:33 AM

# re: Virtualize an existing physical server using Acronis and Virtual PC
Requesting Gravatar...
Hi got to the stage of reactivating windows, but just hangs here. so far as I am typing there seems no life out of the old beast just sitting there. ????. Any thoughts.

Michael
Left by Michael O'Keeffe on Sep 16, 2009 5:47 AM

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