Stories of Windows Backup, P2V, V2V & V2P

In the period 2008-2009 I did quite a lot of work on windows backup for Windows 2008 (R2) involving both physical and virtual (VMware Server & Hyper-V) servers. Apart from backing up certain servers we used it as a free Physical to Virtual (P2V) solution. We also did some Virtual to Virtual (V2V) migrations from VMware Server guests to Hyper-V. All this was in smaller business units or in SME’s where using the functionality inside Windows and free tools was important. Also some servers need nothing beyond what windows backup can deliver.

Part I:
Part II:
Part III:

The benefit of such work is that one gets to learn a lot about the quirks and hiccups of a product. One also becomes aware of its capabilities. Windows Backup can do more than most people think. For that reason I’m quite happy (more than a lot of people) with the product, especially in Windows 2008 R2.

Just like for ntbackup.exe before, I scripted an entire backup solution around wbadmin.exe with logging, archiving, mail alerts etc. Once you have such an adaptable script you can nicely make due with Windows Backups in various environments. The next step is to write the script in PowerShell. That hasn’t been done yet because the script also needed to run on Windows Core which until R2 had no support for .NET and thus PowerShell.

Al lot has happened in the last quarter of 2009. On October 8th 2009 Sysinternals released disk2vhd tool. The current version now also has CLI support. See for more information. Recently some commercial vendors have also released free tools you can use for this. VizionCore made there vConverter available for free ( These tools greatly simplify the P2V or V2V scenarios. Still the “hands on approach” is a good way to learn about technology so I will publish my experiences in a series about windows backup, virtualization (P2V and V2V) and such.

As stated above I know people who dismiss Windows Backup as a valid solution. This is not always justified. But if you haven’t really figured out the tool, how would one know? Sure I use Backup Exec, CommVault and the like for larger environments. Sometimes I work in places with dozens to a hundred terabytes of data and multiple SAN’s. But that doesn’t mean one needs to dismiss all other approaches. Use what is needed where it is needed. I have saved several severs and data using the native backup tools in windows over my career. As recently as 10 days ago I did a bare metal recovery of a W2K8R2 that was messed up by user error. Just know what, where, how and when to use it. Isn’t that the same for any product or solution?

In this series we’ll describe a rather challenging disk configuration on the physical machine we need to virtualize and describe the desired end state of the virtual machine. We’ll discuss setting up the virtual machine to recover the backup. After that we’ll discuss the restore process. Finally we’ll turn our attention to sanitizing the disk layout & configuration. I hope you’ll find it both interesting and useful.

0 thoughts on “Stories of Windows Backup, P2V, V2V & V2P

  1. Great site, I am about to embark on moving our physical environment into a virtual one. I already have a few VM’s runnign, and have had good results using the disk2vhd utility. However, this latest move involves our EBS system, and I found from research that disk2vhd will not do, or is not advised, and I should use System Center essentials VMM to do an offline migration. But, as I didnt want to effect or change the original machines in anyway I tought to myself surely one can backup the system, then restore it into a virtual environment, or restore it to another physical machine, then do a offline migration on it if needed. So thats how I found your site, by googling “windows server backup physical to virtual” and I am glad someone else has the same way of thinking.

    • Thank you for the compliment. I can’t really say Disk2VHD is suitable for your needs without knowing the details. SCVMM is fine when you have that. There are other ways of doing offline migrations. Like cloning the disks, but instead of to a physical disk you can do it to an virtual one. Some cloning tool vendors even support this form within the product.
      What P2V technique is useful, practical and workable depends on many factors. Is it a database, a web or a file server, are there multiple disks in play? How volatile is the data? Do you need to be concerned about state or not? Where do the data and the binaries reside ? You need to figure these things out like you did. Beware that a lot of vendors sometimes do not support it out of fear not because it doesn’t work. They just try to prevent responsibility and probably haven’t even tested it. Or they are weary about the fact they cannot control what and how you use the tools and techniques.
      Using Windows backup to virtualize works but is somewhat more time consuming and error prone due to user mistakes and idiosyncrasies in the product. I have us all kinds of tools & techniques and they all have their merits and draw backs.
      Good luck!

  2. Hi! Congrats for the article! As you looks to be na expert on Windows Backup I’ll call for a help!
    I’m changing my enviroment and wanto to Backup my Active Directory to my new server. I backed up using bare metal recovery option but when I tryed to recover it shows me the message:
    The system image restore failed.
    Error details: Windows did not find any disk which it can use for recreating volumes presente in backup. Offline disks, cluster shared disks os disks explicitly excluded by user will not be used by Windows. Ensure that disks are online and no disks are excluded by mistake. (0x80042414)

    Could you help me please????

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi the first thing to check is that the disk sizes new sever match the size of the original one or is larger. Other wise it will not work. If you working with VM created a blank vhd(x) that is a bit larger than the original one, if it’s physical hardware get exactly the same disk or use a bigger on of the same type. Make sure you have the drivers for the controller.

      • Hi!
        In fact there is a problem worst… Microsoft Backup doesn’t work with different enviroment… So, I’m trying another options.
        Thank you so much!

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