I am amazed at how many people I talk to have not heard of Disk2vhd. It was initially released in October 2009 as a sysinternals tool so that means it is a Free and download! If you are an IT Pro you need to check out the Sysinternals tools. Disk2vhd weighs in at a whopping 811 kilobyte download. The tool is billed as a Physical to virtual migration tool but it is more useful than just that. Here are the categories that I see Disk2vhd useful.
Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) from a running PC. You can then use this VHD in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). Disk2vhd runs on a system that is online by utilizing the Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability. VSS was introduced in Windows XP and is used to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion. You can even have Disk2vhd create the VHD files on a local volume, even ones being converted. The tool can also be used to convert a running virtual machine on a competitive product to a VHD file.
Because you can run Disk2vhd on a live working machine and it will use the volume shadow copy service to make a point in time copy of your machine it makes a great backup tool. VSS allows you to copy open locked files. If your open databases are VSS aware then it gets a good flushed out copy of the database. Dsik2vhd puts a good load on the machine but it doesn’t hammer the box so this can be done while the machine does other work. Once you have the vhd file you have several options.
Virtualization with Hyper-v: To get your machine backup and running it only takes 5 minutes to setup a virtual machine with your vhd file.
Windows Deployment Server: You can use the WDS service to drop your image to bare metal hardware over the network.
Disk Management MMC: Just mount the vhd file as a drive to a windows system and access your files. You can attach the vhd file as read only or you can mount it read write and access it as you would any other drive.
Boot to VHD: This is a feature that lets you boot your physical machine from a vhd file. It gives a menu at boot time which lets you choose the operating system. For more info: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/knom/archive/2009/04/07/windows-7-vhd-boot-setup-guideline.aspx
My ghost drive imaging replacement. You can use the Disk2vhd tool to get your image instead of imageX or Ghost. The great thing about this tool over the others is that you don’t have to boot up off a boot disk. Then to drop your image to real hardware use the Windows Deployment Server in Server 2008 R2 which has added support for vhd files as your image. Another nice feature is that you can mount the vhd as a volume and make changes to your image. In addition you can also just run the image in a virtual machine to make changes.
You can download the Disk2vhd tool from the TechNet Sysinternals website and while you are there check out the other great free utilities: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx