How many VMware workstations under Windows 7

Back up Windows 1: 1 as a virtual machine

Peter-Uwe Lechner

With the free Vcenter Converter from Vmware, real PCs can be cloned as virtual machines. This is how you create a 1: 1 copy of your system for test purposes or as a backup to start it on another computer in the Vmware Player.

With the free Vcenter Converter, Vmware offers a free tool for private users that converts real PCs 1: 1 into virtual systems. The software is especially ideal for converting a physical computer into a virtual PC before changing the operating system. For example, a PC with Windows 7 and 8.1 or Windows 10 can be taken over with little effort and reused in Windows 10, for example.

Wizard provides step-by-step support for the conversion

In the converter setup wizard, you decide on a local installation ("Local installation"). Before starting the actual conversion, it is advisable to thoroughly clean up the PC to be converted. This reduces the space required by the virtual machine. In the previous Windows, uninstall all applications that you no longer need. Also delete all unnecessary user data on the system drive - go through the document folders and Windows libraries one after the other. In addition, you can clean the operating system of residual data, because of course you do not need to transfer garbage data to the virtual machine. For a quick clean-up, use the free Ccleaner.

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When starting, the converter presents itself with a clear main menu. The two central functions “Convert machine” and “Configure machine” can be found below the menu bar. A conversion wizard guides you through the entire conversion process, which you can call up by clicking on the “Convert machine” button. You have to select the source system, the target system and the conversion options one after the other. Under "Source System" you define the source system. For the current PC you are working on, use the default “Powered on” for “Select source type”. In the drop-down box below, activate the option "This local machine". With the alternative options “Remote Windows machine” and “Remote Linux machine”, PCs can be secured in the network without having to install the converter there. Confirm by clicking on "Next".

EnlargeBefore you get started, you should first view a summary.

Now you come to the specifications for the virtual target system with "Next". In the first step, select the type and the virtualization software for which the virtual computer is to be made available later under “Select destination type”. If you would like to play the virtual machines created with the Vcenter Converter later in the Vmware Player or in Vmware Workstation, simply set the setting in the upper drop-down box to "VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine". The free VMware Workstation Player allows the virtual machines created with the converter to be used under Windows and Linux. In the drop-down box below you normally set the option "VMware Player 7.x / 12.x" for the player. If you want to use the virtual machine with Vmware Workstation Pro later, select the appropriate version of Vmware Workstation. In the field after "Name", give the new virtual computer a title under which it will later be listed in the Vmware Player. Then click on “Browse” behind “Select a location for the virtual machine” and specify the storage location for the virtual PC. The selected target drive must have enough free space - at least 20 GB is advisable. Once these settings have been made, click on "Next".

Tip:Start the software for testing in a VM - this is how it works!

Set comprehensive options for the cloned computer

EnlargeSelect the Vmware Player as the target, which is offered for free download.

Then specify the options for the conversion. First click on “Data to copy”. All internal hard disks and partitions of the source PC are listed here. Now remove the check mark in front of the drives that the virtual computer should not receive. In addition, at the bottom there should be a tick in front of “Ignore page file and hibernation file”. In this way, you reduce the space required by the virtual machine. The two files are then automatically created in the virtual environment the first time Windows is started.

Below “Data to copy”, the converter may display some warning messages with a yellow warning symbol under “Devices”. Since the converter also transfers the size of the main memory actually available in the real computer to the virtual machine, it is advisable to use the slider to reduce the RAM allocated by the converter in the "Memory" area. You can adjust the number of virtual processors in the "Devices" area under "Other". Then set up the network for the virtual machine. To do this, click on "Networks" on the left and select in the next step on the right in the "Network adapters to connect" drop-down box how many network cards the virtual computer should have - one is usually sufficient. If you then click in the drop-down box under “Connection type”, you can switch between “Bridged”, “NAT” and “Host-only”. "NAT" uses network address translation, which means that a transition is made between two networks - in this case between the real and the virtual network.

EnlargeSelect the hard drives that the existing Windows needs to start.

With the services in the "Services" section, you determine, among other things, which Windows services should be started automatically on the virtual PC. This allows you to adapt the behavior of the target system to the source system and save resources. Switch to the “Destination services” tab. Use the drop-down boxes to the right of the respective service name to set the start method of the virtual PC. In the "Advanced options" section, check "Postconversion" in front of the option "Install VMware Tools on the destination virtual machine". This will set up the guest additions in the target system. You should also activate the options “Customize guest preferences for the virtual machine” and “Reconfigure destination virtual machine”. Apply the adjustments to the target system with "Next". A window then appears in which you can now specify the computer name, user and workgroup of the virtual PC.

EnlargeOf course, the virtual machine cannot use all of the installed memory.

The preparations are now complete and with a click on "Next" you will get an overview of all the conversion settings made. If you want to change something, click on "Back" and adjust the options. You start converting the real to the virtual computer by clicking on "Finish". The conversion can take several hours, depending on the size and scope of the source system.

EnlargeIn the advanced options you should immediately activate the installation of the VMware tools.

As soon as a green checkmark and "Completed" appear in the main window under "Status", the conversion of the physical PC into the virtual machine is complete. As a result, you have a new virtual machine available with the properties of the source computer adjusted accordingly.

Start the virtual Windows PC in the Vmware Player

EnlargeAfter you have set all the options, you will be given a summary.