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I have a Windows 7 VM on my Mac OS X VirtualBox Host. The virtual drive is a dynamically-expanding with a limit of 20GB.

Is it possible to export the .vdi virtual hard drive to a real, physical hard drive, to put into a real, physical computer?

I have an external case to mount an IDE drive to USB, and can pass that through to VB, but just copying all the files on the virtual drive won't copy things like boot sectors.

Also, if I can do this, would I have to re-activate Windows, or do anything special?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

There's a risk Windows won't survive the hardware change.

Still if you connect your physical disk to the vm and boot from the ISO image of a ghosting utility you may be able to do this.

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Yes it is possible all you need is Acronis true image home 2013 and sysprerp Create your virtual machine with either windows 7 or vista (xp slighlty difrent) update with all windows updates and programs. go to c:\windows\system32\sysrep\sysprerp.exe double click it once you are happy with your setup the computer will strip out the hardware default but keep windows and all updates and programs.

Make sure the "GENERALIZE" is ticked and "SHUT DOWN" is selected then install Acronis true image home on the host computer go to tools and create an Rescue Acronis boot iso save this on desktop or somewhere handy. Open up virtual box and right click your virtual machine and go to settings and then storage and click the cd icon and then folder "Choose Virtual folder" then select your Acronis ISO. Click ok at bottom Power on your virtual machine and be ready on your keyboard use your arrow keys to go up to Acronis true image home from the menu!! (don’t let windows boot or you start over) Once on the backup and restore screen , Click the Devices on the top left of your screen and then usb and look for your external drive click it and Acronis will suddenly see a new partion to scan. then go back to devices and click usb mouse. so you can you your mouse in Acronis.

Click backup disk drives it asks what you want to backup make sure both The system and windows partitions are ticked. You should have something like DISK 2, SYSTEM RESERVED, UNNAMED.

Then choose browse for location then find a drive to dump your image onto external hard drive works well. name your image file something useful like Windows7homepreium32BIT then click ok and proceed. Tick the box in Acronis for shutdown. Go have a cuppa this can take 10 mins depending on machine Spec.

Your virtual box will be powered down with virtual box you host machine will take control of your external hard drive and you can see your image.

Restore image

This will give you a Backup you can use on any drive and any computer. pop back to Acronis on your host desktop and burn a bootable rescue media but this time to cd. put the disk in any computer along with your external hard drive. And repeat steps about except this time from Acronis menu choose restore and select your image from hard drive and choose your destination hard drive and click proceed a prefect copy of windows every time

8 mins to restore it from scratch Bonus! Windows loaded in under 15 min including service packs and programs.

This a rough guide hope it helps

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More than likely anyway that you export a virtual machine to a physical machine, you're going to end having to reactivate it. One, the system will notice that the hardware is different (motherboard, harddrive, RAM, processor, videocard). Two, you going to find that Windows will need to find drivers for any specific hardware that is installed on the machine (video, NIC, sound, etc). Last, if you reactivate windows on the new hardware, your licenese for the OS will not allow you to keep the virtual up and running also. It's a grey area, but typicaly you can only have one instance of the OS running at a time (though I doubt that the EULA police will raid your home for this). Just remember that.

Good luck on your project and hope this helps some.

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You might be able to do this with an imaging program such as Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image. And possibly using the dd command in OS-X. Microsoft also has a tool available for deploying Windows 7 images. See this for more info.

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How would I use the dd command? And I'm pretty sure that link isn't helpful in my case. If it is, please explain. I'm not even close to being up-to-speed with sysadmin tools and whatnot. – Austin Hyde Dec 18 '09 at 2:28
dd if=<source disk> of=<destination disk>. Sysprep should always be run on machines when doing this kind of transfer; it removes some of the unique parts of Windows (SIDs, driver cache, etc), so has some relevance. – Dentrasi Dec 20 '09 at 15:50

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