Migrate Windows OS from Physical Computer to Virtual Machine

Posted by @Helen

September 13, 2017

It is a wise choice to migrate operating system (OS) to virtual machine and do some operations on it. This can avoid damage to your physical computer. To quickly and safely move Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP to VMware using a 3rd party software, such as AOMEI Backupper, is an intelligent decision.

Is it necessary to migrate OS to virtual machine?

"I have Windows Server 2003 installed on my server. I'd really like to be running it via VMWare EXSi as a virtual machine, but I don't what to have to reconfigure the whole deal.Is there a relatively painless way to move it to a virtual machine? It will be staying on the same box with the exact same hardware... nothing changes."

This is what I have seen on SERVERFAULT. Like this user, a lot of other users also want to move their operating systems (server systems or pc systems) to virtual machine. Either they do not want to reconfigure the whole deal or they do not know how, an easy way to transfer Windows to VMware is in necessity. With a virtual machine equipping exactly the same environment (OS, hardware, software, etc.), you can do nearly all what you want but dare not do on physical machine due to damage danger.

Note: This article is special for Windows operating systems. For other systems, Linux or Mac, you can refer to part of its information.

Quickly move operating system from physical machine to virtual one (P2V)

Let us go back to the point to discuss how to easily export Windows system out of physical machine to VM? For this question, I believe that many of you have an answer in your mind—Universal Restore. Yes, this is a name for the task of restoring system to different computers, even the configurations of the destination computer is not the same as the source machine. It is also a feature of many computer programs to do the task. Since virtual machine can be viewed as a computer, of course we can use universal restore to migrate os to virtual machine.

Here, we choose AOMEI Backupper as an example to show you step-by-step migrating system to VMware. According to the location of virtual machine, we provide the easiest way for you.

Case1: Destination virtual machine is on the source physical computer

Step1. Follow the guides to make a backup of your system and save the system image file somewhere local.

Step2. Create a bootable ISO file and save it on local disk.

Step3. Start virtual machine from the created ISO file. Then, AOMEI Backupper, which was included in the ISO file automatically when the file was created, will prompt out. Directly, you can go to its Restore part to restore your system to this VMware.


  • You should find the right image file you created in step1.

Choose System Image

  • In restoration course, there’s an option called “Enable Universal Restore” is selected by default. It ensures normal boot after recovery even to dissimilar hardware, so you’d better not un-tick it.

Universal Restore

Case2: Virtual machine is on other computer

Step1. Create a system image and save it either on network attached storage (NAS) or on removable device (eg. USB).

Step2. Make a bootable ISO file and burn it either on removable device or CD/DVD.

Step3. Start virtual machine by inputting your removable device. Then, just do as in case1.


  • There’s another way to replace bootable ISO file called PXE Boot Tool. Using PXE Boot Tool to do universal restoration.
  • Besides migrating os from physical computer to virtual machine, AOMEI Backupper also supports migrate os from virtual machine to physical computer (V2P) and from VM to VM (V2V).

There are several editions of AOMEI Backupper. You should choose the right one according to your situation and needs. Usually, FREE Standard edition is recommended; however, if you are running server system, you should try AOMEI Backupper Server.