Easiest Way to Clone Hard Drive to Virtual Machine without Boot Issues

Want to clone hard drive to Virtual Machine? This article provides you with powerful software to help you do this, whether you want to use a cloned hard drive on your computer or another computer.


By Lily Updated on January 17, 2024

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User Case

Can I clone a hard drive and use the clone with Virtual Machine? 

I have a system on which Windows 10 is installed, and I am trying to make a clone of its HDD image, which I then want to use in my main PC with VMware, so that I can boot Windows 10 off the cloned HDD. How can I clone the hard drive with operating system and boots from the clone?”

- Question from VMware Communities

Clone Hard Drive to Virtual Machine

Why Clone Hard Drive to Virtual Machine?

From the above case, we can see that the user wants to clone the hard disk with Windows 10 installed to the Virtual Machine. There are many other users in life who also have such needs. Why would they want to clone physical PC to Virtual Machine? Below I have listed some possible reasons:

  • A VM provides you with a safer test environment. Most Windows users are aware that there are many potential security implications in certain operations. What you do on the VM will not cause damage to your physical machine.
  • A VM allows you to run several different operating systems. Virtual Machines such as VirtualBox, VMware, Hyper-V, Virtual PC, etc. provide the ability to run multiple operating systems in a virtual environment. You can do almost anything you want in a virtual machine.

Since cloning a physical PC to a Virtual Machine is advantageous, many users are looking for the easiest P2V migration method. The following content just meets your needs, keep reading.

Professional Backup & Restore Software for P2V Migration

AOMEI Backupper Professional is a powerful backup and restore software that you can use to clone hard drives to Virtual Machines. It offers the backup & recovery, clone and sync features you need in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP.

Just like restoring an image to another computer, if you want to migrate hard drive with OS to Virtual Machine, you may experience boot failures due to hardware issues. With the help of AOMEI Backupper, you will not have these troubles. It has 2 magic features you may need.

 Create Bootable Media: With this feature, you can create a bootable media to boot from physical computer or virtual machine. It has 3 options, including USB boot device drive, Burn to CD/DVD, or Export ISO file. You can select one of them according to your needs.
♨ Universal Restore: This feature is designed for users who want to restore Virtual Machine on a computer with different CPU, motherboard, etc. And its aim is to ensure secure boot after restoration.

With its easy-to-use interface, you can operate it without any help. Besides cloning hard drive to Virtual Machine, AOMEI Backupper also supports migrating OS or hard drive from Virtual Machine to physical computer (V2P) and from VM to VM (V2V).

Please download AOMEI Backupper Professional edition first, you can now upgrade to pro trial version with a 10% discount. To clone hard drive on Windows Server from physical to Virtual Machine, please turn to its Server edition.

Download Free Trial Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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How to Clone Physical PC to Virtual Machine (Successfully Boot)

Here, I will show you how to clone hard drive to virtual VMware as an example. The steps below will also work for other virtual machines VirtualBox, Hyper-V, Virtual PC, etc. This will convert physical machine to virtual VMware and guarantee that you can successfully boot from the cloned hard drive.

You need to install VMware Workstation first. If your Virtual Machine is on another computer, prepare a USB flash drive of which the volume is at least equal to the system size of the source computer.

#1. If the Virtual Machine is on Your Computer

1. Firstly, launch AOMEI Backupper. Navigate to Backup -> Disk Backup to create a hard drive image. Follow the prompt steps to complete the operation and remember where you put the image like a USB flash drive.

Disk Backup

2. Create a bootable ISO file and save it on the local disk.

Create Bootable Media

3. Open Virtual Machine VMware and go to VM -> Settings. Then select CD/DVD -> Use ISO image file, click Browse to find the image file on your local disk and hit OK to save the changes.

Use Iso Image File

4. Start the Virtual Machine from the bootable ISO file. It will run AOMEI Backupper automatically. In the main page of AOMEI Backupper, click Restore -> Select Task.

Select Task

5. Select the Disk Backup to restore and click Next.

Disk Backup

6. Select to restore entire disk or a partition and then click Next.

Restore Entire Disk or Partition

7. Then you need to select the destination disk or partition on the Virtual Machine to restore the backup image to. Preview the operation that will be executed. Click Start Restore after confirmation.

#2. If the Virtual Machine is on Another Computer

1. Use AOMEI Backupper to create a hard drive image and save it on your USB flash drive (other removable devices are OK and you can even store it on NAS).

2. Make a bootable ISO file and put it on the USB flash drive.

3. Start the Virtual Machine from the bootable USB. You’ll see loaded AOMEI Backupper once login. Follow step 4.5.6 above to select a restore task.

4. If your Virtual Machine is on a computer with different hardware, the Universal Restore feature will be checked by default. Confirm operations on the Operation Summary page and click on Start Restore button.

Universal Restore


  • If the restore destination is SSD, you can check SSD Alignment option to optimize the reading and writing speed of the target SSD.
  • If the destination disk is larger than the source disk, it’s recommended to click Edit Partitions to adjust the partitions size or location on the destination.

Edit Partitions

FAQs on P2V Migration

1. Can I perform P2V migration on any physical system?

While many physical systems can be virtualized using P2V migration tools, there might be hardware compatibility issues. Some specialized hardware, such as certain graphics cards or network adapters, may not work optimally in a virtual environment.

2. Can I run the virtualized system on any virtualization platform?

The virtualized system created through P2V migration can typically be run on a variety of virtualization platforms, such as VMware, Hyper-V, and VirtualBox. However, it's important to choose a platform that supports the specific VM format generated by your P2V tool.

3. What are the steps involved in a P2V migration?

The general steps involve installing the P2V tool on the source machine, creating a disk image of the physical system, converting it to a virtual disk format, setting up the VM configuration (such as memory and CPU settings), and booting the VM. Just as introduced in the content.

4. Can I perform P2V migration on a running physical system?

Some P2V tool like AOMEI Backupper allows you to perform migrations on live, running systems, while others require the system to be offline during the process. The approach you choose depends on the tool and your specific requirements.

5. Is data loss a risk during P2V migration?

Proper planning and backup procedures can minimize the risk of data loss during P2V migration. However, there is always a possibility of data loss if the migration process encounters unexpected issues. It's recommended to back up critical data before performing any major migration.

Recommended: Backup virtual machines easily after cloning

If you are an enterprise user, you may have multiple virtual machines and have critical data on them. In this case, it is recommended a free VM backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup to regularly backup your virtual machines. After cloning hard drive to virtual machines, you can use this tool to backup your virtual machine easily.

  • Backup complete and independent backup for VMware and Hyper-V VMs.
  • Backup virtual machines to a local drive, external HDD, NAS storage, and network share.
  • Automatically run backup tasks daily, weekly, or monthly.

You can hit the download button to install this software. Next, we will demonstrate you how to use this tool.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1.  Install and log in to AOMEI Cyber Backup. The default username and password are both "admin".

Step 2. Then, click Source Device VMware Add VMware Device to add the vCenter or Standalone ESXi host.

Step 3. Choose Backup Task on the left menu bar and select Backup Task Create New Task.

Creat New Backup Task

Step 4. Choose backup type and finish the rest settings to setup a backup task.

VM backup


That’s all for how to clone hard drive to Virtual Machine. You can easily do this with AOMEI Backupper's backup and restore functions. During the restoration process, the most important part is to tick “Universal Restore” feature if your computer has different hardware.

Besides, AOMEI Backupper is not only a P2V migration tool, but also a powerful disk cloning software. When you want to upgrade the hard drive on your computer, you can use it to transfer your data and system from the old hard drive to the new one with just a few clicks.

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.