I am pretty new to server administration, I have a server machine running WMware ESXi 5.5.0 and there is a Windows Server 2012 running "inside" it (because of being running as virtual machine, it only has 4G RAM and 200G HDD).

I am not familiar with virtual machine and such so I prefer to have the Windows Server 2012 running on a normal machine by itself (not on any virtual environment), on top of that, I have a new machine with way better hardware ready for that.

How do I clone/copy everything of the Windows Server 2012 from the VMware to a new box?

  • What's wrong with running it as a virtual machine? What are your concerns? Why was the Windows 2012 Server virtualized in the first place?
    – joeqwerty
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:07
  • @joeqwerty Someone else did it before, I bought a new box with better hardware and I just want to run Windows Server 2012 on it, the current box which is running WMware ESXi will be wiped out and running something else. Aug 24, 2015 at 17:12
  • So you're going to go bare-metal just because it's what you know? Do you have any actual reason to move away from it being virtualized?
    – GregL
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:52
  • @GregL The virtual windows server machine has 4G of RAM and 200G HDD, new machine has 64G RAM and 5TB HDD, I want to run Server 2012 on the new machine. Aug 24, 2015 at 17:55
  • 1
    Do you need all of those resources for the single instance? Why not setup the new node as an ESXi host, move the VM to there and scale it up?
    – GregL
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


Given the content of the comments on the question, I'm not 100% convinced that going back to physical is the best course of action, but what you want to do can be done.

It's called a V2P (Virtual-to-Physical) conversion. VMware has a page on the subject, and there's at least one How-To out there. The latter is likely pretty old because it mentions VMware Workstation 7, which was released in 2009. That said, the process might still work.

VMware V2P Page

The V2P Technical Note details how a customer can convert an existing virtual machine to a physical machine using third party tools. The primary purpose of this process is to enable conversion for reproducing support issue on physical hardware.

The V2P process is generic, and virtual machines can be imaged onto any physical server if the process is followed correctly. We provide sample configuration files below for several popular servers.

They all basically work by taking a hard drive image of the VM, which gets applied to the destination hardware.
The problem being that the amount of variation in hardware devices that change when going to physical can be quite numerous, and many times they'll be completely unknown to the OS, requiring drivers to function properly.
Going the other way (p2v) is easy, since the variation in hardware offered by a particular hypervisor is very limited.


The easiest way to do it would be to use either Clonezilla, or Norton Ghost (provided you have a licence), and:

  1. Get an external USB drive, or attach another physical disk to your machine.
  2. Configure your VMware virtual machine so it is able to use the additional storage.
  3. Attach an image of the aforementioned tools to a virtual CD.
  4. Boot form it.
  5. Clone the system to an image on the additional storage.
  6. Reboot the system and boot form the clone tool CD.
  7. Restore the system image form the additional storage.

Since the hardware configuration will have changed SUBSTANTIALLY some additional configuration on the newly cloned system may be required.

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