Virtualization using vCenter

January 11, 2017 - Søren Alsbjerg Hørup

I recently decided that one of my PC’s required a re-format and re-install (going from Win7 to Win10). A total reformat and install obviously requires that all my applications needs to be installed afterwards, this can take several hours. In addition my files, etc. needed to be backed up.

This time however I have decided to virtualize my current setup prior to doing the wipe and install. VMware provides a free tool called VMware vCenter which can virtualize a running Windows installation, i.e. create an image.

This even works without having to re-boot the system and the image can be stored on the same volume which one is trying to clone.

A minor issue I found during the cloneprocess was that I was unable to clone my Fat32 partion. The reason being that shadow copying (which is utilized by vCenter), does not support the Fat32 file system.

A huge issue I found after the clone process was that I was unable to login to the instance due to the VMware not accepting CTRL+ALT+DEL, CTRL+ALT+INS or using the virtual keyboard.

The reason being that my keyboard device driver was messed up in the clone, meaning that I actually had no virtualized keyboard device accepting keystrokes. Mouse was working however.

To fix this, I removed the CTRL+ALT+DEL security requirement and redid the clone. Keyboard was still not working, but I was able to login using the virtual keyboard.

Afterwards, I followed this Guide to get my keyboard up and running again. In my case, the values of the registry was different due to different hardware, but removing all lines except for kbdclass did the trick.

Note that Windows might complain about activation issues due to the big change in hardware.