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Is it possible to restore a windows home server backup of a computer to a virtual machine instead of a computer?

Use case: Old computer running XP has hard disk that crashes. Not going to replace the computer but instead get new computer with Win7 but want to restore old computer's OS to a VM so that I can recover some data...

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Keeping in mind that I haven't actually done this, but it sure seems possible.

Create a new VM, no need to even install anything to it. Boot it from the physical restore CD (or connected to the .iso of same) and turn it loose.

Only issue I could see would be the XP activation -- an OEM licensed XP will surely holler on first boot... granted, that might be a rather large issue.

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Yes it works. Restore using an iso of the WHS client restore cd. Use a vhd with at least the size of the original partitions. And add a Legacy Network adapter to the config. Use 256MB of virtual memory for now (to avoid a potential hang in the next XP Recovery step, at the 33minute remainng mark). After restore, there may be activation issues with like OEM windows. With XP you can do an emergency restore on top of that (boot with iso of a proper licensed XP non-oem media). After the Install and F8, do an "R" recovery on the the Windows partition. Then you may need to do a Service pack and updates. and install Integration Services. All your programs and data will be there. Licensed things like Office will have issues, as expected. Then you can connect the network to your external network and use the Easy Transfer Wizard to migrate settings and data over to a real machine.

Good Luck


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Whether getting the computer's OS into a VM or reading the data, you'll have to plug the disk into another computer to access the disk - would that not be enough to get at the data?

Perhaps you need to use a special program that only runs in the other OS - that is a very good reason to use a VM. As long as you can plug the disk into the new computer and read it, you might try using the VMware Converter to create a VM from the disk, then use that VM under VMware Player to get into your old OS and data. This is all available for free.

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I did this before and it works. I restored to a VM image, of a laptop that has a dead HD.

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