The discussion here about disk2vhd seems to be nice and appliable. But in reality, it is only useable under defined circumstances: a harddisc with one partition and a size below 127 GByte.
Here is what they say at sysinternals about the program:
"Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk - Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). "
The trap: Physical disk is not equal to a logical disc volume containing your win 7 installation. Most current systems are delivered with harddisks containing 1 TByte and more space. Hard disks are also partitioned (most Windows 7 oem systems comes with 4 primary partition -> system reserved, windows system, backup/recovery, and "OEM-partition").
Cloning such a hard disk using disk2vhd is nearly impossible (or you need a second 2 TByte hard disk to keep your vhd-file). Why is it a problem to clone a runing Windows system to a vhd?
If you intend to clone a live system, you need only to copy the system reserved partition (if present) and the system partition to your vhd-file. Of course, you can uncheck all unnecessary logical drives in disk2vhd, before you invoke the copy process. In this case disk2vhd transfers only the contend of all selected drives to the vhd-file. But disk2vhd transfers also the whole partition structure to your vhd, independ from the logical drives you choose to copy. In consequence you will find a small vhd-file (maybe 20 or 30 Gbyte in size), containing the contend of all your selected logical drives. But the partition description of this vhd-disk says it is a "1 TByte disk with several partitions". This may cause some pitfalls. Here is, what I have found out in tests:
I used a machine with 1 TB hard disc, containing several partitions. Then I tried to clone the partition containing Windows 7 into a .vhd-disk. The results are pretty foolish:
- I tried to mount the resulting 20 GByte vhd-file on the same machine that has been used for cloning, using diskmanager. I received a warning, that the drive signatur conflicts with an existing disk. This is because the physical drive's signature and partition structure is identical to the id and structure of the vhd-disk. As a consequence, the mounted vhd-drive will be set "offline" (inaccessible). But there is a possibility to set the state of the vhd-drive manually to online.
- I tried to add the newly created vhd to my boot menu. A native boot failed with a blue screen (probably because the disc structure of your vhd conflicts with the disc structure of the physical disk).
- I tried to use the vhd-file as a disk for a virtual machine, using Windows Virtual PC, I got an error message, that an IDE-drive may have not 1 TB in size. The vhd-disk has only a size of 23 GByte, but the vhd-disk structure indicates a 980 GByte size.
Only booting the vhd in VirtualBox worked here "out of the box". But the Windows 7 clone runs realy slow - responses to mouse clicks are delayed, start menu wasn't useable etc. - an experience I made with several clones. Booting in VMware player failed also with a disc access error.
As a conclusion, I feel that disk2vhd will not be too helpful for real world use. I guess, I will give MyOldPC a try. Also the Paragon converter seems to do the job.