I have a Windows 7 system image (as in Microsoft's built-in backup, not dd or Norton Ghost). Can I convert it into a VirtualBox image? I'm aware that you can do this with dd images.

Even if I'm able to convert the image, will it break? The VirtualBox wiki suggested that I need to run MergeIDE before taking the system image, which I didn't do, and now I've already uninstalled Windows. So will I need to reinstall it and make a proper backup?


Okay, I have created a write-through virtual disk backed by the physical disk that contains my WindowsImageBackup. If I add that vmdk to my VM then it can see the backup! However, a new problem.

"No disk that can be used for recovering the system disk can be found," error code 0x80042412. But it can see the system disk, diskpart says it's online at SATA port 0. And I haven't selected it for exclusion. It just seems not to be able to read the disk.

Update 2:

After some searching I believe the new error is due to the fact that my virtual drive is smaller than the drive that was imaged (even though the actual space used was much less, the drive itself was large). I don't have enough room on any of my drives to accommodate a 1TB virtual disk, so I guess I'm stuck.

FYI for future readers of this post: I think this would have worked if I had enough HDD space. At the least, it should be possible to restore an image into a virtual disk. But it's still unknown whether Windows would boot without the registry changes made by MergeIDE.

  • About the MergeIDE part, I was able to apply it to a Windows 7 image file (I could not have the system running, only the image) with this: github.com/jakobadam/kvm-mergeide
    – golimar
    Mar 19, 2018 at 12:47

2 Answers 2


There is no direct Windows System Image to Virtual Machine conversion I am aware of, but since you have the system image, why not just start the Windows install process and use the system image as the source and restore it into a new virtual machine?

Boot from your install media, and when prompted if you would like install windows or restore from a backup - choose the restore option and select your system image backup as the source. My only advice would be try to configure your virtual machine to match your previous hardware (making adjustments as necessary for disk space, processor count, RAM, etc.).

  • Hmm, this is a good idea but I'm getting the message "Windows cannot find a system image on this computer" when I try to restore from a Repair Disk. No matter what I try it doesn't seem to be able to see my secondary SATA drive, which is where I stored the WindowsImageBackup. I guess I would need to add it as a SATA device to the virtual machine? But I can't do that because it only supports virtual disks, not physical disks? Is there any way around that?
    – Neil Traft
    Jan 12, 2012 at 3:28
  • Okay, I have created a write-through virtual disk backed by the physical disk that contains my WindowsImageBackup. If I add that vmdk to my VM then it can see the backup! However, a new problem... (See my updated question above)
    – Neil Traft
    Jan 17, 2012 at 0:56
  • I'm unable to make a virtual disk large enough to satisfy the Windows restore process, so I'm giving up. But I think it might have been possible otherwise, so I'll mark this as the answer.
    – Neil Traft
    Jan 17, 2012 at 22:24

Have you tried the Sysinternals (Microsoft) Disk2Vhd utility? It'll create a VHD with which Virtualbox is compatible. You'll then need to import this as a disk and create the Virtualbox VM itself to configure the settings.

  • It looks like this only works on a physical disk, which I don't have. I made an image of the disk and then reformatted and installed OS X. So even if I could run a Windows program, it would need to work on a system image, not a physical disk.
    – Neil Traft
    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.