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I'm using Virtual Box under Debian and want to create a Windows 7 virtual machine. I'd like to be able to clone it (in case I mess up something and need to reset it later), but have read that clones may need to be reactivated for some reason. Is this true? If so, is there a way around it?

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You could just use a snapshot instead. –  Oliver Salzburg Oct 14 '13 at 13:16
    
@OliverSalzburg I think that will work. If you'll write it down in the answer section I will mark this as a solution. –  William Everett Oct 14 '13 at 21:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, there's a way around it. It involves editing the .vbox file, and addding/changing the uuid attribute in the <Hardware> element(s).

Here's one link to more details: link

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I tried this and it worked quite well. –  William Everett Oct 15 '13 at 1:21

If you have to re-activate an installation depends on several factors. Usually this is tied to certain hardware identification parameters (such as the MAC address of the primary network adapter). If too many of these parameters change, a reactivation is required.

The Windows website itself has this to offer on the question:

Do I need to activate Windows after making a hardware change?

Maybe. When you make a significant hardware change to your computer, such as upgrading the hard disk and memory at the same time, you might be required to activate Windows again. For more information see Activate Windows 7 on this computer.

However, if you want to avoid this altogether, you might just want to use snapshots.

  1. To create a snapshot, first switch into the Snapshots view of the VirtualBox Manager.

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  2. You can then create a new snapshot of the virtual machine with the correlating button:

    enter image description here

  3. Give the snapshot a name and optional description:

    enter image description here

  4. You can now work the virtual machine (in the Current State) and in case you make a mistake, you can restore your safe snapshot:

    enter image description here

    In case your modification is fine, you can also delete the safe snapshot to get to a clean state again.

You can also take a new snapshot of the machine while it is running. There is a Take Snapshot... option in the virtual machine window:

enter image description here

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Thank you for providing more details on how to make a snapshot. I know I said earlier that I would mark this as the answer, but someone else actually posted instructions on how to modify the virtual machine file so that it could be cloned which was more specifically what I asked. I wish I had the karma to upvote your answer though and I really appreciate you taking the time to provide it. –  William Everett Oct 15 '13 at 1:20
    
Well, some of us upvoted it anyway. We use Win7 VMs at my job, for testing, and we simply snapshot -- never requires re-activation, but then again, we're not changing what it would see as the hardware configuration, just making snapshots & reverting to them. –  Debra Oct 15 '13 at 5:05
1  
@Pinyaka: That's fine, you did the right thing :) If you want, you can try to participate on the site and earn the required reputation to upvote, while possibly helping others with their problems. Cheers –  Oliver Salzburg Oct 15 '13 at 9:56

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