Converting A Physical Hard Drive To A Virtual Hard Disk

At first glance the project seemed easy – clone the physical hard drive inside a server and restore it into VirtualBox so as to use the virtual copy. Turns out, it doesn’t work the way I envisioned it in my head. All the latest software made promises of one-click cloning and on the fly conversion to VHD. But in the end, after three days of trying, I’m scrapping this project. I just can’t seem to get it to work.

I tried using the latest software like O&O DiskImage 6, which listed VHD as one of the output formats. Well, it outputs to VHD alright, but that image doesn’t load. I cloned the drive without incident, but for the life of me I can’t that server to boot in a virtual environment. I created a VHD, I restored to a new VDI, I installed a new OS and tried the restore from there, I used a boot CD and restored from there. Not one of these methods would actually produce a working system. I can lay down the data to a data drive and see all the content with no problem, but no matter which process I use I can’t seem to get a bootable clone of my server. I admit, I’m not the sharpest knife in the things that holds knives, but I can’t for the life of me see what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been trying for three days and have called it quits.

This was supposed to be a simple task, a 3-4 hour job that would transport the server from the physical realm to the virtual one. With the amount of time I’ve wasted I could have installed a new server, installed all the frameworks and rebuilt everything from scratch, which is exactly what I’m going to do. I wanted a clone so I could perform maintenance with minimal downtime. If I had to rebuild the damn thing, I might as well start over and do a full blown upgrade.It’s not what I had in mine, but when all else fails, reinstalled is the best option.

If anyone knows the right process, the right software, the right way to hold your fingers to clone a drive and get it to load in VirtualBox, please let me know. I’m dying to know how it’s done. It’s sort of like a magic trick, I want to know how the cool kids do it.

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