How To: Using the Image Conversion Tool to create a Virtual Machine

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Virtualization using the Image Conversion tool in the ShadowProtect console.

This method is essentially the same for Hyper-V and VMware (excluding ESX and ESXi).

The ShadowProtect Image Conversion tool allows users to consolidate a base image along with its incrementals into a single image file. The tool can also convert a chain of ShadowProtect image files into a single VHD (Hyper-V) or VMDK (for VMware Workstation)



The process described below is the same regardless of which virtual platform is used.

There are three major steps required to take a ShadowProtect image from being a file to the point where it is a fully-functional virtual machine.

      1. Convert the image.
      2. Create the virtual machine.
      3. Perform HIR.

Please read all of the steps before beginning.

1.  Convert the image.

This is required for each volume/drive letter that you want to convert. When performing a restore of an Active Directory machine, all volumes included in Active Directory must be converted using the same creation/point in time. This includes data volume with any Active Directory database including but not limited to Exchange and SQL. Important: Failure to do so will result in Active Directory failing to start and the inability to log into Windows in normal mode.

        1. Open the Image Conversion Tool from the left hand Tools menu in the ShadowProtect Console.
        2. Specify the base image of the backup set to convert.
        3. The next screen allows you to select a specific point in time that you want to convert to. This is represented by the creation time. The creation time reflects the snapshot creation time for all volumes backed up by a particular backup job.

          To the left there is a list of Image Properties. These properties contain information about the partition size, original hard drive size, the used space on the image, and other information that may be necessary to know when creating the virtual machine. Information about the partition size is of key importance as this will represent the total size that the virtual platform application will allow the virtual hard drive to grow based on usage even though the end result of the conversion will only reflect little more than the used space.

          The bottom of the screen will give a layout of the hard drive that the backup image was taken from. Some hard drives may have included additional utility, recovery, or system partitions that may or may not need to be converted for the restored virtual machine to function properly. In most instances these volumes are not necessary, but it is important to note their existence for troubleshooting purposes.

        4. Define the image creation parameters.
          1. Select a destination to store the newly created image.
          2. Specify a name for the newly created file.
          3. Select the file type that you want to save the new image as:
            • SPF - Creates a new ShadowProtect base image based on the current incremental chain.
            • VHD - Creates a virtual hard drive file compatible with Hyper-V and most other Microsoft virtual platforms.
            • VMDK- Creates a virtual hard drive file compatible with most VMWare products (excluding ESX and ESXi although this is being worked on)

2.  Create the virtual machine.

To perform this step, become familiar with your chosen virtual platform. (This step naturally takes place outside of ShadowProtect and outside of StorageCraft Technical Support.) Base the settings for the virtual machine on the tasks that the virtual machine should perform. You can change these later if necessary. Each virtual machine platform has a different process for creating a virtual machine, although in most the process of creating VMs is very similar.

If you need additional information or recommendations on creating a virtual machine in your platform of choice, please refer to the documentation and support provided by the respective companies.

If you have already converted the virtual hard drive, attach the virtual hard drive to the virtual machine at the time of creation. If you created the virtual machine created before this conversion process, you can attach the drive at a later time. Remove any existing virtual hard drives from the virtual machine settings as well.

3.  Perform HIR.

In order to perform HIR using ShadowProtect v4.0, activate ShadowProtect before taking the image file.

          1. Attach the ShadowProtect Recovery CD or ISO of the recovery CD to the virtual machine.
          2. Boot the virtual machine from the ShadowProtect Recovery CD. (networking not required)
          3. Select the recovery option based on the OS you are restoring.
          4. Select the HIR Configuration from the left hand tools menu.
          5. Select the system volume. Click Start.

In some instances, Windows Activation may not allow you to use the computer without reactivation. In this situation, you can run HIR again, select the advanced options this time then check the 'deactivate windows' option from the advanced menu. This will deactivate Windows and in most cases also reset the number of days to use the OS before needing to activate. There are no methods for bypassing Windows activations. For addition information and complications regarding Windows Activation, please refer to our Windows Activation KB Article.

Once you perform the HIR, detach the recovery CD from the virtual machine and reboot the virtual machine into Windows.


When performing virtualization of Active Directory or Domain Controllers, it is still necessary to boot into ADR mode and delete any hidden NIC devices and verify that the system drive letters match the original machine.