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30 Apr 2019

Virtualization with Macrium Reflect — part 2

In the previous blog post in this series (Virtualization with Macrium Reflect — part 1), we discussed the advantages of migrating servers into a Hyper-V environment and how this can be easily achieved with Macrium Reflect. This article will detail the necessary steps to migrate a physical server into a VMWare Environment.

Converting a physical server to a virtual server

The steps below will detail how to convert a physical server to a virtual server using VMware (ESXI-6.7.0) and Macrium Reflect.

To convert our Physical Servers to Virtual Servers, you need two things. The first thing you need is the Macrium Reflect Rescue Environment ISO (a bootable environment we can use to restore images). Before creating the Rescue Media, it is important that the VMWare drivers are added to the Rescue Media, so that it can communicate with the virtualized hardware. These drivers can be extracted from the relevant VMWare Tools, for your operating system, that can be downloaded here.

Once the tools have been downloaded, use a third-party tool (such as 7-zip) to open the VMware-tools.exe archive and copy any .dll files to the C:\Boot\Macrium folder. Next the Rescue Media can be created, the article below contains details on how to do this:

The Macrium Rescue Environment

The second thing we need is an image of the physical server we are converting to a virtual server. It is advised that this image is stored in a network share, as this will make accessing the image from inside the Rescue Media easier.

Once you have both, you can begin converting your physical server to a virtual server. This post will be focusing on VMware, if you do not already have this configured, please follow the article below:

Configure the ESXi Host

On the VMware Host, select ‘Create / Register VM’ and then ‘Create a new virtual machine’.

Below is a brief overview of the different options available in the New virtual machine wizard:

Select a name and guest OS — The first set of options that are available to you allow you to select the name compatibility, guest operating system. In this example we will be using Windows Server 2016, therefore I will select Windows as the ‘Guest OS family’ and Microsoft Windows Server 2016 or later (64-bit) as the ‘Guest OS version’. Since we are using ESXi 6.7, I select ESXi 6.7 virtual machine for ‘Compatibility’ as this determines the ESXi host versions that virtual machine can run on, and the virtual hardware available to it.

Select Storage — The next page of the wizard allows you to select where the virtual machine will be stored, information about the storage locations that are available will be presented here.

Customize settings — This page of the wizard allows you to customise virtual hardware of the virtual machine. This includes the number of CPUs that will be assigned to the virtual machine, the amount of memory and size of the virtual hard disk the virtual machine will be using. These settings will vary depending on the purpose of the server that is being virtualized. In this example I will be using the default settings shown below:

Ready to complete — The final page of the wizard will give you a detailed overview of the virtual machine that you are about to create. Once all settings have been double-checked, select ‘Finish’ to create your virtual machine.

Now that the virtual machine is created, we can begin the process of converting our physical server into a virtual server.

Our Rescue Media iso will need to be uploaded to our datastore, this will make the ISO accessible to the virtual machines on our VMware host. First, navigate to ‘Storage’ and right-click on your datastore then select ‘Browse’. Next, select ‘Upload’ and navigate to where your Rescue Media ISO is located. Once you have uploaded your ISO, it will be added to the datastore.

Now that our Rescue Media ISO is located in the datastore, go back to the ‘Virtual Machines’ management page and right-click on the virtual machine you just created, then select ‘Edit Settings’. Next to ‘CD/DVD Drive 1’, select ‘Datastore ISO file’, this will open an explorer window for your datastore. Select your Rescue Media ISO and then ‘Select’. Once you save the changes, you will be taken back to the virtual machine management page.

The virtual machine is not ready to be turned on. Right-click on the virtual machine and select ‘Power’ then ‘Power On’. You will be presented with a ‘Press any key to boot from CD or DVD’ screen. Press any button to boot into your Rescue Media ISO. By default, the virtual machine BIOS can be entered by pressing F2.

The next step is to select the image you have taken of your physical server, in this example, the image is stored in a network share. This can be done by navigating to the ‘Restore’ tab and selecting ‘Browse for an image file…’. You will then be able to ‘Map a Network Drive’ where the image is stored.

Once the credentials have been entered, select ‘OK’, open the drive and select your image. Your image will then be shown in the ‘Restore’ tab, with details about the image, and the partitions that are included in the image. You are not able to restore your image to the virtual machine.

Once you have selected the ‘Restore Image’ option, you are presented with the restore wizard. You can then select ‘Copy selected partitions’ or manually drag the partitions from the source to the destination. Once the partitions are on the destination disk, you can select ‘Restored Partition Properties’ to change the size and drive letter assignment for the partitions.

Once you have finished editing your partitions, select ‘Next’. You will then be presented with a detailed ‘Restore Summary’ which shows the operations that will be undertaken when restoring your image. Once you have reviewed the summary, select ‘Finish’ to start your restore!

Once the restore has completed, you now need to run Macrium ReDeploy. ReDeploy locates the relevant storage driver and injects it into the Windows Server Operating system, allowing it to boot. For more information about Macrium ReDeploy, please see the article linked below:

Once ReDeploy has been run, you can eject the Rescue Media ISO and boot into your restored Server Operating System.

If you experience any issues booting into your Restored Server Operating System, boot back into the Rescue Media, and run ‘Fix Windows boot problems’, which will fix common issues that can prevent a restored image from booting. For more information about ‘Fix Windows boot problems’ and how to use it, please see this article.

You now have a virtualized server!

You can download a 30-Day Trial of Macrium Reflect Home, Workstation, Server, Server Plus, or Site Manager.

Next Post

How robust is a Reflect backup file? Can it be improved?