VirtualBox P2V (Physical to Virtual) in Windows 10 – 2 Methods

This guide explains how to do VirtualBox P2V in Windows host OS. By this method, you can convert a physical computer that can be local or network (remote computer) to the virtual environment. It’s not a straight forward method since there are no tools available for P2V (Physical to Virtual) in VirtualBox. But still, it’s possible with few free tools. You can use these tools to convert most of the Windows Operating Systems from Windows 7 to 10 and Server versions Windows 2008 to latest Windows 2019 server.

Before starting the procedures, let me tell you how it’s going to work.

We can use two tools for this purpose. You need to select the correct tool which matches your scenario.

P2V VirtualBox

Two Tools for VirtualBox P2V in Windows 10 Host

1) Disk2vhd

It is a free tool from Microsoft to convert a local physical computer to a virtual format. This tool should be running on the local computer to convert its physical disks to virtual disk format VHD. If you need to convert a remote or networked computer, you need to run it from that particular computer. Compared to the 2nd tool, it should be executed from the local computer only. The output virtual disk format is VHD which is used by Microsoft Hyper-V. But, the Oracle VirtualBox will read this file format easily.

2) VMware vCenter Converter

This tool is from VMware to convert physical or virtual computers and servers to their VMware virtualization software such as Workstations and ESXi (or vSphere). The output will in VMDK virtual disk format, but still, our friendly VirtualBox will read this disk format. The advantage of vCenter converter over Disk2vhd is it can convert computer (or server) in the network. If you have administrative credentials of a remote computer, it will work perfectly over the network for P2V.

Both tools will give the virtual hard disks of the physical computer. We need to create a new virtual machine on VirtualBox with the proper hardware and Operating System settings then attach this converted hard disks to make it work.

P2V with Disk2vhd in VirtualBox

As mentioned earlier, we need to execute this tool from the physical computer that needs to be converted. Since the steps are already mentioned in several guides earlier, you can refer below links.

Physical to Virtual in VirtualBox by VMware vCenter Converter

1) Download VMware Converter here

2) Convert your physical computer to virtual using free VMware vCentre converter as mentioned here. Make sure that you select correct physical partitions, processors and memory size for the new virtual machine. Don’t split the virtual disks during the conversion.

3) Once successfully created, locate the VMX and VMDK files. Don’t bother about VMX files.

4) Now add the newly created vmdk file to VirtualBox media manager as shown below.

VirtualBox P2V

5)  Read more about adding and accessing vmdk disk files in VirtualBox here. This article explains how you can access a vmdk disk file as a partition inside a virtual machine.

6) After successfully added vmdk disk file, create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox. Select the correct guest OS, processor type and memory size. In the virtual hard disk option, select ‘Use existing Hard Disk’ and browse the disk you added by vmdk file in VirtualBox media manager. So your new virtual machine will boot from vmdk disk which we converted from physical to virtual.

Physical to Virtual VirtualBox P2V

7) That’s it. Boot the virtual machine now. It will be booting and working fine. Sometimes it may install additional required drivers for VirtualBox hardware platform. Let it complete and install the VB guest additions to get better display performance with additional features.

8) You must see your physical computer on VirtualBox as a virtual machine now. This is the easiest method to convert Physical to Virtual in VirtualBox with free tools.

9) If you are still interested in running a pure VirtualBox machine with VDI disk files, you can convert your newly created VMDK files to VDI format with a free tool as mentioned here. After created the VDI file, add it to media manager and boot a virtual machine from vdi files.

Hope you understood the fundamentals and steps to P2V Windows client or server computers to VirtualBox.

21 thoughts on “VirtualBox P2V (Physical to Virtual) in Windows 10 – 2 Methods”

  1. Hi, great article and simple. All was going well until I booted and then it simply blue screens for a few seconds and goes back to the boot page.

    Any ideas?

    Alan

    • No way around a BSOD, you can’t boot that. You have to SysPrep it first, but it’s ok for me because I only need the data on the disk as VMDK anyway…

  2. The converter seems to require VMWare to be installed and working. Is there any way around this requirement? I really do NOT want to have to install an entire VMWare system just to convert stuff.

    • @Karl,
      VMware converter tool does not require entire package. Anyhow, here is the tool from Microsoft disk2vhd which will convert your physical disk to VHD ( Virtual Hard Disk) format. Then attach it to VirtualBox.
      Download disk2vhd

  3. Thanks Dinesh.

    I’m using the Linux standalone converter. I don’t use Windows of any variety, so cannot run the Microsoft utility, but thanks anyway 😉

    When I run the converter, there is no problem accessing the remote host and obtaining disk information etc. The second stage is to define a destination. That dialogue appears to require an existing VMWare host. If not, could you tell me what I should put into the dialogue? It asks for a server name, user name and password…

  4. Hi

    first thank you for your work.

    I made the .vmdk successfully, but when I run it with “Enable IO APIC” checked, i have a Blue screen with 0x0000007B error. When it’s unchecked the screen remains black with a fixed cursor on the top left corner.

    Have you got any idea ?

    Thank’s in advance

    Molive

  5. Thank you, Dinesh, for your reply.

    – I’ve tried the safe mode with no success (same BSOD)

    – not tried with SATA port because physical install is on IDE

    – Tried this method too : http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Migrate_Windows (this link is very interesting) which did not work for me

    – Finally what worked for me is the disk2vhd tool from Sysinternals (see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx) without anymore manipulation, as virtualbox recognizes vhd files

    Thank you again and I hope my contribution will be helpful for somebody.

    Molive

  6. Thanks for this post. I tried using this on a Vista Business edition, but when I try to boot the VM in VirtualBox I get a black screen. I did try enabling the IO APIC, but that didn’t help.

    Any ideas?

  7. Molive,
    I got it working. I had previously using the disk2vhd, but that didn’t work either. Turns out upgrading my VirtualBox fixed the issue.
    thanks again for your post. Very nice to have both systems while I migrate everything to Windows 7.

    • @Carlton, @molive,

      Thanks for your comments and suggestion. One more user also reported same black screen error while booting converted VMDK. I suggested to use Windows installation CD to repair the disk.
      I had the same issue once and this method helped me.

      Anyhow, disk2vhd is a good solution for P2V for two reasons.

      Its from Microsoft ( so OS related boot sectors and architecture will be take care)
      VHD is supported by VirtualBox.

      • Great article. Had to enable IO APIC when it failed to boot first. Now it wants me to activate windows? I see this on the web in my searches, but nobody here mentioned it. So, I was wondering if this is normal or if I did something wrong.

      • Be aware that disk2vhd will not take an image from an OEM Windows install and let you run it on any other machine – at least this is what the disk2vhd site says. I didn’t try it, as this kind of silliness from MS doesn’t surprise me. The whole idea of virtualizing a machine is to run the virtual image from anywhere isn’t it?????

  8. I have no success.

    I need an 1:1 copy of my external IDE USB drive. This Systernal tool only converts the used blocks but that is for not enough. My case is sort of a forensic one.

    Since I am no techi and do not know about Linux or DD raw images (I might have to learn) I tried Symantec’s Ghost 15 Sp1 (it can convert its own images / recovery points into VMDK and has a boot cd!) and Pragon’s Hard Drive Backup Tools that do the same and have a boot cd, too. Moreover Paragon can copy directly into SUN VirtualBox image container.

    However, I can not boot those images into VirtualBox. Tried with and without IO. May be I try the IDE / Sata think since my HDD is years old.

    Can you give me some other tips how to manage that? Boot from CD and find a way to get an 1:1 copy clone that loads in VirtualBox?

    PS:
    I noticed that the VMware Converter can also make use of Symantec Restore Points (but it did not load mine?!?!) and also Acronis TrueImage TIB files. Might be interesting.

    • So, the thing that finally worked for me, was to put the HD on a SCSI controller in virtualbox…

      I also had done some registry hacking, but this was what finally worked and caused windows not to 7b

  9. I used this method to P2V an HP server running a Windows Server 2008 R2 domain controller to my desktop. At first it refused to boot in VirtualBox, blue screen central. So out of curiosity I installed VMware Player 4.0.3. I was able to boot my VM image fine with VMware Player. After that I ran it for a while and let it run all the hardware detects and everything, even installed the VMware tools. Everything was running great.

    So then I decided to give it another run in VirtualBox. No dice. Blue screen central yet again. I fiddled with all sorts of settings. What finally got it running was going into the settings of the VM in the VirtualBox console and detatching the disk from the SATA controller and attaching it to a SCSI controller set to LsiLogic. Now it’s booting in VirtualBox and I am very happy because all my other VMs are in VirtualBox.

    I have a network adapter on my desktop that does VLANs, and I was thinking if I had to, I would create a private VLAN and attach both the VMware Player and VirtualBox VMs to that same private VLAN, but I’m glad that I don’t have to now. 🙂 🙂

    Thanks for getting me going in the right direction, and I’m glad that I was able to get myself the rest of the way there! Hope maybe this will help someone else 🙂

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