Howto: convert physical windows OS to vmware

May 15th, 2006

I just don’t like the fact that I have to carry around client laptops physically when I travel between home and client site. This makes me thinking about how to convert the physical box to vmware virtual images so that I can run cliente OS on my “powerful” thinkpads. After some experiments, here is how I successfully converted my windows 2000 physical install to a vmware that can runs on VMware player (free) , your experience may vary depending on what OS you want convert.

What you need:

  • Drive image clone program (I used Norton Ghost 8) on a bootable media (USB drive or CD-ROM)
  • VMware workstation to create image (this is not free, I got one license at work, you only needed it to create the vmware image for the first time, no need to have it if you just want to run the virtual machine)
  • VMware player (this is free program to run the virtual machine)


    1. Use ghost to create an image out of your physical hard drive partition. Use option “Partition”-> “To Image” to create an image, this is usually a very large file (~2GB) You don’t need to clone the entire hard disk, just the partition of the drive where OS was installed. At the end, you will get a big file named *.gho ( call it w2k.gho).
    2. Copy the created VM image to the box where you will want to create virtual machine.
    3. Use VMware workstation to create a new virtual machine, (select MS-DOS as custom-OS type), set reasonable memory size (512MB is a good start).
    4. Add virtual disks: you need to add two disks
    (1) the virtual disk where your virtual machine will run under, set the initial virtual disk drive IDE drive and a size at least the size of your VM image file size, I choose 6GB just in case I need more disk space.
    (2) the physical disk where VMware to access the VM image. (I choose to add my partition 2 (d: drive) where my vmware ghost image was copied
    5. Boot your virtual machine with a bootable disk that has ghost.exe, run ghost to restore w2k.gho (located on physical drive) to the virtual drive (use option Image -> Disk)
    6. After ghost is done, edit VM setting in VMware workstation to remove the physical drive because you don’t need it any more. and change the OS type to windows 2000 professional.
    7. Remove the bootable disk, now boot your virtual machine, if works fine, you should see your windows 200o login screen.
    8. Install the vmware tools to get the displayer driver/network driver setup.
    9. Once you created the vmware image on VMware workstation, you can run it anywhere where VMware player is installed.

That’s it. pretty simple stuff ;)

Entry Filed under: General

66 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vinny  |  August 30th, 2008 at 1:27 am

    2. Copy the created VM image to the box where you will want to create virtual machine.

    Box? What the hell are you talking about? What box?

  • 2. toto  |  September 5th, 2008 at 2:07 am

    good advice.

  • 3. Paul  |  March 28th, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Just what I was looking for! Thanks.

  • 4. phliangosx  |  January 20th, 2010 at 1:56 am


    Really appreciate for your sharing, your experience do hint me where to go and save me time. Thanks!

  • 5. sam  |  February 6th, 2011 at 12:22 am

    this can be done in simple way with free util from vmware called vconverter. you don’t need to use ghost and can be done from network. then just use free vmware player


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