I've been tasked with rebuilding a family member's computer, but they want to keep the machine in pretty much the same state. Due to the reasons I'm rebuilding it (viruses), I'm going to take across as little as possible, so the chances are I'll miss something. Is there a good technique involving something like taking a system image and being able to mount it and consult it for reference?

Machine in question is a Windows laptop, I have more than enough disk space here to take a full image.

  • Most decent imaging software would let you mount an image without actually restoring to it.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 0:59
  • I believe the concept you're looking for is a "backup".
    – mpez0
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 1:57
  • The problem you face is the system files are not infected its the additional files added that are malicious. There is no good way to transfer just the personal files you want. Its best to nuke from orbit if it actually is infected after you backup the personal files.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Feb 21, 2015 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


The Microsoft SystemInternals Suite of tools has a utility that takes a snapshot of a drive as a VHD file. This file can then either be mounted or used as a virtual drive with VMWare or other Virtual players. The drive shapshot utility is disk2vhd and can be downloaded from Microsoft here.

You won't be able to create the VHD file on the same drive you are making an image of, so you'll probably find it easier to remove the drive and use an external drive adapter on another machine.

The VHD drives only use the actual used disk space, not the physical space. So if you have a 500gb drive with only 100gb used, the VHD will be closer to 100gb.

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