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Windows 7: Use a NVMe SSD as a boot drive for Win7 x86...sort of

07 Jan 2017   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
Use a NVMe SSD as a boot drive for Win7 x86...sort of

I guess this is really a question for the moderator.

I have not been able to find anything, here or elsewhere, about using a virtual machine so you can use a NVMe SSD as boot drive for Win7 x86. I have found a lot of people frustrated, as I was, about it only being able to be used as a storage drive. Since it's a rather obvious idea, I would think it would be out there somewhere. But if it isn't, do you think there would be any interest in posting a "How to" here?

Granted, this is only for people who don't find it practical to completely redo their x86 installation for Win7 x64, and it is only an indirect solution. However, it made a world of difference to me.
Edit #2:
Yes, as it turns out it was a driver conflict issue and the procedure works just as well using my old MBR machine. I will post an update as soon as I can get to it.

The procedure below works fine on the new machine that I am migrating to where I have a Patriot Hellfire that uses the native Windows NVMe driver. The older machine I am migration from, which has an OCZ RD400 that uses their proprietary driver, is giving me some difficulty and is going to take some more work (if that, in fact, is where the difficulty lies). For those of you who are more ambitious and are migrating to a new machine I have modified my original write-up and included some technical information on my set-up.

The procedure worked the first time (after I have learned my way around VirtualBox) so I don't see that anything special is required but, obviously, hardware can make a difference. Both systems have many similarities in that they are both AMD and have AMD-V CPUs. What differences there are shouldn't matter with virtualization and, as I said, may not even be where the difficulty is. It will take some time to more precisely duplicate the procedure I used on my new system. The new system is UEFI, it is set to Legacy+UEFI, and it boots to a x64 OS. The virtual machine and the VHD are on the Hellfire. I did this so I could move the RD400, where the cloned copy of my x86 was, back to the old machine.

What you will need --
1) Virtualization software - I happen to chose VirtualBox (free version)
2) Disk2vhd - which is also free and you can download it from Sysinternals ( Disk2vhd )

...and if you're migrating to a new system,
3) a BCD Editor - I use another freebie EasyBCD ( EasyBCD 2.3 Download - TechSpot )

What follows are the instructions for getting any existing (physical) Windows installation to run in a virtual machine. There are some good videos on YouTube if that's your preference.

If you are migrating to a new build, you will need to do a little extra preparation first. I have an OS already installed there on another drive. To begin, clone your Win7 x86 installation and your System Reserved volume to your NVMe SSD, and then move it to your new system. Boot into your existing OS and note the drive letters of the volumes on your NVMe SSD, or assign the ones of your choosing. Using EasyBCD, from the File menu choose 'Select BCD Store' and navigate to the BCD file on your NVMe SSD System Reserved volume. Now that you have that BCD loaded, choose 'Add New Entry' and from the 'Drive' dropdown box select the drive letter of the Win7 x86 installation. In the 'Name' box type in one that you will recognize or use the 'Edit Boot Menu' to make it your default. Don't forget to click 'Save'. If you choose to make it your default, you will probably want to lower the seconds in the 'Count down from' box toward the bottom of the Edit Boot Menu screen. Again, click 'Save'.

Part One --
Using Disk2vhd you will covert your Win7 x86 installation into something a virtual machine can use. Your installation will remain intact, only a file is created. Under 'VHD File name' indicate your NVMe SSD as where you want the file to be created. Also, uncheck the box toward the upper right that says, Use VHDx. Lastly, uncheck every drive except where you have your Win7 x86 installation (usually C: drive) and your System Reserved volume, then hit 'Create'. I have always had a drive letter attached to the System Reserved volume, but if it's unclear to you which one it is you should assign a drive letter to it. You can look online to see how to do that or I can add it here if necessary.

Part Two --
Next, you need to install your virtual machine software and launch it. For VirtualBox, click 'New', give the virtual machine a name, from the dropdown box choose 'Windows 7 x86', select the radio button that says 'Use Existing VHD', click on the button to the right so you can navigate to the file that Disk2vhd created and select it. Back on the set-up screen click 'Create'. Finally, from the dropdown menu item 'Start' choose 'Normal' and it will launch.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2017   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Jan 2017   #3

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Sure, people would be interested in that. :)

Double check the tutorials below to see if they be the same. If not, they could help with writing up your tutorial for it.

Install Windows on MSATA (SSD) Drive

Install Windows on System with MSATA and ISRT
My System SpecsSystem Spec

09 Jan 2017   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit

I've edited my original post.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jan 2017   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit

Edit #2:
Yes, as it turns out it was a driver conflict issue and the procedure works just as well using my old MBR machine. I will post an update as soon as I can get to it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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