How to convert a physical computer to a virtual machine

Geek alert. If the the idea of fiddling with the workings of your laptop causes you to break out in a cold sweat, I’d move along today, there’s nothing to see.

For the brave and hardy souls ( and you know who you are) who have decided to hang around, todays topic is

How to convert a physical computer to a virtual machine

This comes from a blog by MacroLinz and it’s brilliant. I will quote from Lindsay’s blog.

I recently got a new replacement laptop for work. I had a lot of stuff on the old laptop after 2 years of use and so I didn’t want to have to rush myself in remembering everything in one or two passes before formatting it to send back to the office. There are always things I forget when I’m mostly focused on moving data files over: files in “hidden” places like IM logs and non-file based data such as product keys, configuration info, settings for programs and other stuff. So I decided the best thing to do was make it into a VM and take my time about reinstalling and configuring the new laptop to match.

Disclaimer: Use these steps at your own risk. Theoretically the worst that could happen is you could waste some time and/or end up with a VM that doesn’t work correctly so you can just scrap it and try something else!
What you will need to get started

* Your two laptops (obviously)
* VMWare Workstation (version 5.5 recommended, what I used) – You may download and use a free 30-day trial of Workstation. After the trial ends, if you don’t want to purchase a license, get the free VMWare Player which allows you to use existing VMs but not create new ones.
* An external drive or a networked drive that has enough room for your backup file that both laptops can access (I used a 100GB USB external harddrive)
* Microsoft Windows installation discs or ISOs
* Enough space on your new laptop to host a VM of the old one, or just use the external drive to host the VM
* Some thing else to work on during the hours and hours it takes to do the backup and restore after you get them running

and then she goes into a whole bunch of detail.

Bloody brilliant. I love hindsight, everything is so easy when someone else figures out the grubby bits.

1 comment

  1. Hi thatch,

    Glad you enjoyed the tutorial. I had someone tell me after reading it that I should have gone into Academia instead of programming with all the details I go into. I just don’t like figuring something out and then having to to do it again later and hit the same bumps in the road because I forgot how I did it the first time. I figured I’d save myself and other people the trouble!

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