I've got a Windows 7 machine that's about to die and I want to transfer my data to another machine, or possibly to a disk image that I would then run inside of Parallels on my Mac. I could of course install Windows 7 from scratch, but then I'd have to reinstall dozens of programs and transfer many gigabytes of data, all of which takes a huge amount of time. So I'm wondering if it's possible to make an image of my Windows installation and just ghost it onto another machine, or into a new virtual machine in Parallels. Can this be done?

  • You may need to reactivate it because it will see Parallels as different hardware, and Windows keys are tied to the motherboard. If you have Windows 7 retail, that will be no problem, but you cannot re-license OEM versions without paying full price for another key. tinyurl.com/ca97z47 – ChrisN Dec 29 '12 at 0:23
  • Be aware that some software is device-specific and will not work if it is simply copied from one machine to another. Watch out for applications that require specific drivers or come packaged with hardware. – Dour High Arch Dec 29 '12 at 1:42
  • Both of these comments convinced me that my idea isn't worth doing, since it would still cost a chunk of cash to get new software, and it sounds like a huge hassle too. If someone reposts as an answer, I would accept it as answering my question. – Joshua Frank Jan 1 '13 at 13:13
  • You can use Acronis True Image 2013 (30 days free trial) to create a full backup of your PC.
    With the same software you restore that backup on other machines.
    Of course you have to re-install drivers when your hardware has changed.

  • This article states that Parallels can import Acronis Backups.
    (Since I don't own a Mac I can't tell you how well both software act together)


The answers and comments made me decide that this approach is far too messy and I just opted to reinstall everything from scratch. Thanks to all contributors for their input.

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