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I have a small Dell GX260 machine that I have been using for testing purposes. And very often during one of my experiments on the machine I mess it up so I have to re-install Windows XP on it.

So I thought of if I could get the machine into a virtual-pc environment I could mess it up as many time as I like and then just do "Discard Changes" and start over again.

Any thoughts and ideas on how to move the Dell PC into Virtual PC ?

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This comes in incredibly handy for the one-man-band scenario. A few years ago I was asked to keep an old accounting PC (Win98,AccPac,etc) in storage for the next 6 years just in case there was a financial audit. At the time I didn't have the cycles to invest in a full VM solution, but this would have been my question at the time. The answers below would have lead me down the right path. – p.campbell May 31 '09 at 5:10

If you are using VMWare you can use VMWare converter to conver the PC to a virtual machine.

If you are using Microsoft Virtual Server you can use the Virtual Server Migration Kit.

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Is this tool available only to VMwareServer, or is this option available in VMwarePlayer? – veggiemexicalidog Mar 16 '10 at 4:45

Depending on which virtualisation software you will often find they come with a 'P2V' (physical-to-virtual) converter application. You just use that and it turns your machine into a VM, often quickly and successfully but you'll want to test your VM well after conversion.

It may also work out that using VM 'snapshotting' may be of use to you, you choose a point in time to restore to, make your changes and then either snap back to that point if needed or delete the recovery point if you're happy with your changes. Good luck.

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If you use Microsofts Disc2vhd tool you can select your c: and check off the "Prepare for virtual pc" box. This produces a vhd file which you can then use as the hard drive in a new virtual pc setup. I've used this in the past pretty effectively.

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Microsoft provides a tool to prepare installation images for OEMs, called "sysprep". You can use this to migrate virtual machines to "real" machines and vice versa.

Putting it very simply, the "magic" here is that the tool sets windows to re-detect all hardware on the next boot, so if you transfer the OS before the next boot windows will adjust itself to the new environment.

The steps are basically:

1) Run the sysprep tool on the machine you want to migrate, and select "reseal". The machine shuts down.

2) Boot the machine with a bootable image tool like ghost or clonezilla, and make an image of the "sealed" OS partition.

3) Boot the image tool on the machine you want to migrate the image on to, and restore the sealed image there.

4) Boot the new machine normally, and wait while windows detects all the new hardware etc.

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