My company is in the process of transitioning some of its on-premises services to the Microsoft cloud; some of them are being replaced altogether by hosted services (Exchange, SharePoint); some other are custom applications running on local servers, thus they need to be moved to Azure virtual machines without any modification to their current setup.

Luckily, almost all of our servers are Hyper-V virtual machines, thus the move should be quite straightforward; I've already set up an Azure virtual network, a site-to-site VPN and a domain controller for the cloud "site", and now I'd like to begin moving some VMs.

However, all the documentation I could find start with the imperative to run sysprep on the VM before uploading its VHD to Azure:


I don't want to create custom VM templates. I need to move already running virtual machines to Azure, without any impact on their current configuration (apart from changing the network settings, of course). Sysprep is well known to wreak havoc on several applications, and it's something I definitely want to avoid.

How can this be achieved?

  • I hope this doesn't sound dumb but have you tried just uploading a copy to azure and see what happens. That's what I would do. – Christopher Perrin Aug 12 '14 at 19:36
  • That's also what I would do. But maybe someone already stumbled upon this and can answer from experience... – Massimo Aug 12 '14 at 19:41

Upload it as a disk, attach to a VM and it runs. It'll be expecting a domain controller so you should prepare for that (either by having one in Azure or connecting back to the on-premises one).

Sysprep is required if you want to upload it as an image, to spawn other VMs. As a best practice, it's better to follow this route.

Check the official documentation for more details about the disks, images and VHDs in Azure.

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  • Microsoft says: "Any method of moving a Windows image to a new computer, either through imaging, hard disk duplication, or other method, must be prepared with the sysprep /generalize command. Moving or copying a Windows image to a different computer without running sysprep /generalize is not supported." – Todd Wilcox Sep 4 '14 at 18:00

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