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Windows 7 Virtual Hard Disk Drive (VHD) Image and Virtual Machine Backup and Restore

Windows 7 Virtual Hard Disk (VHD)

When creating a virtual hard disk image Windows 7 or VHD Microsoft recommends you use fixed size setting as this setting is more reliable, provides better performance and is better suited for production environments. VHD’s can be attached (mounted) and detached (unmounted) using disk management or from the command line utility Diskpart.

Only Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions allow you to boot from a virtual Windows disk image (virtual PC image) and offer the ability to run multiple operating systems without suffering the memory and performance issues commonly associated with virtual machines. You use the bcdedit command to add a Microsoft VHD Windows 7 hard drive image or Windows 7 disk image to the boot menu.

Creating a Bootable Windows PE disk and Image Capturing Using  ImageX

Download and install the Windows Automated installation Toolkit (AIK)

Create a local Windows PE directory by opening an elevated command prompt and entering the following commands

  • cd C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\PETools
  • copype.cmd <version (x86, amd64, ia64)> <destination>
  • e.g copype.cmd x86 C:\winpe_x86

Copy ImageX and boot.wim

  • copy “c:\program files\windows aik\Tools\x86\imagex.exe” c:\winpe_x86\iso\
  • xcopy c:\winpe_x86\winpe.wim c:\winpe_x86\iso\sources\boot.wim /y

Create ISO File to Burn to CD

  • oscdimg -n -bc:\winpe_x86\ c:\winpe_x86\ISO c:\winpe_x86\winpe_x86.iso

Burn ISO Boot from PE Disk and enter following command

Windows 7 Boot Manager – Bcdedit

Another command line tool WIM2VHD creates Out-of-Box-Experience (OOBE) images from any Windows 7 installation source or custom WIM file. The requirements to use WIM2VHD are a reference computer with the WAIK installed as well as a VHD partition on that same PC. Disk Images


Virtual Hard Disks

Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 3.0 (VMST)

The challenge of keeping virtual machines up to date with the latest patches or virus definitions in order to keep the disk image file compliant with IT policies is increasing day by day.

Boot from VHD – Often these virtual disks are not powered on for a long period of time thereby making them vulnerable to attack once the virtual machine hard drive image gets booted. In the past the only way to apply these updates was by powering on the machine and applying the required patches. VMST allows administrators to service

  • Offline virtual machines in a MS system center virtual machine manager (SCVMM)
  • Stopped and saved state VMs on a host
  • Virtual Machine Templates
  • Offline virtual hard disks in a SCVMM library by injecting update packages

VMST works with SCVMM and uses Windows Server update services (WSUS) and System center configuration manager (SCCM)   to manage software updates on virtual machines, templates or VHDs.

VMST 3.0

The SCVMM 2008 server toolkit needs to be installed on a x64 Windows server 2008 R2 whereas other components like the SCVMM management console require minimum Windows XP Professional SP3 and later versions of the Windows OS. Through SCVMM you can manage Hyper-V, Virtual Server and VMware virtualization servers.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

WDS facilitates the deployment of bootable VHDs to client computers over the network and can be managed through the WDS mmc snap-in GUI tool or through the WDSUTIL command line tool. All deployment tasks can be completed by using these 2 tools. You can only use WDSUTIL and not the mmc snap-in to pre stage client computers. WDS is included in WAIK and can be installed starting from Windows Server 2003.

When prompted press F12 on the client computer to start the PXE boot process and select the boot image. The WDS server can also be configured so that no user intervention is required on the client to boot to the network.

WDS Images consist of a split media set

  • WIM file containing image specific definition
  • A Res.rwm compressed file which contains file resources used in all images

You use WDS to deploy install images to clients and you use boot images which contain the Windows PE environment and the WDS client files to boot the client and perform an OS installation download from the WDS server.

You must create a capture image before you can create an install image. A capture image is a boot image that you use to boot the client computer with in order to catch the OS in a wim file. You need to create a discover image for computers that are not PXE enabled so the computer can contact the WDS server.

Pre-staging Client Computers

A computer is called “prestaged” when it has a computer account in AD DS. A computer account object gets created in AD DS when you

  • Create the account manually
  • Enable the auto-add policy resulting in the automatic creation of a computer account when you approve the installation of an unknown client
  • Install an Operating System through WDS. The default behavior is that a computer account gets automatically created unless you disable this functionality via the client tab on the server.

Prestaging has 3 major benefits

  • It adds a layer of security as you can configure WDS to only service prestaged clients
  • Multiple WDS servers can service the same network segment by configureing each server to answer only a particular set of clients
  • Additional flexibility by enabling the control of the client account name and location in AD DS, the WDS server to use and which network boot program or unattend file the PC should receive

Tools Included in Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK)

windows 7 virtual disk

Audit Mode
Answer File Video
Windows 7 Deployment
Windows PE Boot Disk

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT)

  • Lite Touch Installation (LTI) enables the distribution of images with minimum user intervention and can be used with only MDT 2010 and no other deployment tools in place.
  • Zero Touch Installation (ZTI) requires no user intervention but depends on the use of MS System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) with the OS Deployment Feature pack installed as well as an SQL server

Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) Tool

Backup Hard Drive – Virtual Hard Disk Types

virtual disk windows 7


Also note that there are several utilities or programs out there which can convert vhd to vmdk or vhd to VMware and vice versa.

Convert VHD to VMware

Windows 7 Backup Restore

Microsoft Virtual Machine


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