In the most recent Best Utilities column, I discussed tools I was adding to a new Windows 7 PC. I also noted that I imaged the old system to have as an archive.
In this column, I’ll report on restoring the archive as a virtual machine.
Using virtual PCs to save old computing setups
Over the years, I’ve recycled, disposed of, or handed down numerous PCs that have outlived their highly productive life. In most cases, I keep the old hard drives both for security and as a way to recover files that did not make the transition to the new machine.
But in the case of my old work notebook, I had to return the machine — hard drive and all. Making an image of the drive was relatively simple, using a copy of True Image (site). The backup now makes it easy to recover missed data files; but there are also times when I’d like to run the old system to match up application settings and similar tasks.
Because I don’t keep spare hardware around, the only solution is to restore the image to a virtual machine. Yes, the hardware configuration might not match perfectly, but, as I’ll note, there are ways around that issue.
VirtualBox (site) is my virtualization system of choice. The task at hand was to restore the True Image file to a VB-based, virtual machine. I’d like to say that the process when smoothly, but that’s not the case — at least the first time around. As with any complex PC transition, there are roadblocks that must be overcome.
Note that the following is not the only way to restore a system image to a virtual machine. There are numerous others, depending on your preferred software and the types of backups you’ve made. I used True Image because that’s what I had at hand. The following steps are based on that application; but other third-party backup software such as the popular Macrium Reflect (site) probably use similar methods.