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I don't want to carry my work notebook to home every day, so I thought of creating an image of the notebook's hard disk, and run it on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

So with what software can I create a virtual image, and with which software can I run this image. I have a preference for free software, but other solutions are welcome too.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted


After finding this question: How to import an image for Virtualbox..., I did some further research and found this link describing how to turn a Windows installation into a Virtualbox virtual disk (it's for Linux, actually, but I guess one can adapt it to MacOS X). The advantage would be that VirtualBox is free, of course. That said, I have no experience with it.

Edit: harrymc suggested this article which describes how to use the VMWare Converter to convert the existing Windows installation to a vmdk-disk (VMWares Virtual Disk format). VirtualBox is able to use this disk just like its own format. (Thanks, harrymc.)


VMWare has a Converter Tool (named VMWare Converter Tool... ;-) that does exactly that: The Tool is free... VMWare Fusion not so much, it's just my tool of choice.


There seems to be a special "Switcher" Edition of Parallels that has an easy way to transfer a complete Windows installation via an USB cable. Then again that solution costs money.

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Is there a way to convert the vmdk-format (virtual harddisk) to a vdi-format, used by VirtualBox? – doekman Nov 6 '09 at 12:51
Together with the link from harrymc this answer is accepted. @dertoni: maybe add the info from harrymc? – doekman Nov 7 '09 at 11:20
Yes there is a way to convert between the formats: That said harrymc is of course right you can always just use the vmdk. I will add that to my answer. – dertoni Nov 9 '09 at 7:49

See the article VirtualBox P2V Success for how to convert a Windows machine to VirtualBox by using the VMware Converter.

As VirtualBox is able to use VMware's vmdk, the problem is solved.

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The issue here is that yes, you can convert your existing system to a disk image, and then use on in VirtualBox, VMWare Fusion, or Parallels... (But not bootcamp)

But what happens then? That disk image can be reverse ported back to your laptop... Are you going to save all your work on a flash drive, and use that flash drive on your work system? Are you going to use Dropbox for your working space?

Unless you want to keep porting your work hard drive to virtual machines... Or rsync between the two boxes, or equivalent...

This is just a stop gap measure, or one that will then leave the data & files scattered, some over here, some at work, etc... Think about the large term aspect as well.

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I store all my data on the network, so there is no problem. But an image is important, because of software licensing and the fact the notebook is member of a domain, and I am no domain admin ;-) – doekman Nov 6 '09 at 15:44

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