The Easiest Way to Clone Hard Drive to Virtual Machine

User Case

Can I clone a drive and use the cloned drive for a virtual machine?

"I have a computer with Windows 10 installed and I am trying to clone its HDD image. Then I want to use it on my main computer using VMware so I can boot Windows 10 from the cloned HDD."

Clone hard drive to virtual machine

The Purpose of Cloning A Hard Drive to A Virtual Machine

In everyday life, there are many other users who, like the user in the case above, want to clone a physical computer to a virtual machine. Below I have listed some possible reasons for this:

🖥️ Virtual machines can provide you with a more secure testing environment. There are many potential security issues in some operations while using your computer that can cause harm to your physical computer. In severe cases, they can also cause your system to crash. However, what you do on a virtual machine will not cause any damage to your physical machine.

🖥️ A virtual machine 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 experience several different systems on a single physical computer.

Because there are benefits to cloning a physical PC to a virtual machine, here I will also present you the easiest way to accomplish this operation. If you are interested, read on.

Professional Software for Cloning Physical PC to Virtual Machine

AOMEI Backupper Professional is a professional and recovery backup software that you can use to help you clone your hard disk to a virtual machine. It supports all Windows systems, including Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP. It is embedded with all the backup, recovery, clone and synchronization features you need.

Many users have reported that they may encounter boot failure when performing the operation of cloning a hard disk to a virtual machine. If you are using AOMEI Backupper to do this operation, you will not have these troubles. During the cloning process you will use the following two useful functions.

🤖 Create Bootable Media You can use this feature to create a bootable media to boot from a physical computer or a virtual machine. It has 3 options, including USB boot device drive, burn to CD/DVD, or export ISO file. You can choose one of them according to your needs.

🤖 Universal Recovery. This feature will be useful if you want to clone your hard drive to another computer that has a different CPU, motherboard, etc. Its purpose is to ensure a secure boot after recovery.

The interface of this software is so simple that you can operate it without any help. Besides cloning hard disk to virtual machine, AOMEI Backupper also supports migrating operating system or hard disk from virtual machine to physical computer (V2P) and from virtual machine to virtual machine (V2V). Please download AOMEI Backupper first.

How to Clone Hard Drive to A Virtual Machine and Boot It Successfully

Here I will show you how to clone a hard drive to a virtual VMware as an example. The following steps also apply to other virtual machines VirtualBox, Hyper-V, Virtual PC, etc. This will convert the physical machine into a virtual VMware and ensure 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 stick with a size at least equal to the system size of the source computer. Here are two different scenarios for cloning a hard drive to a virtual machine, choose the correct one for your own situation.

#1. If the Virtual Machine Is on Your Computer

1. First, launch AOMEI Backupper on your computer. Navigate to Backup -> Disk Backup to create a disk image. Follow the prompted steps to complete the operation and remember where you put the image, such as a USB flash drive.

AOMEI Backupper

2. Then navigate to Tools -> Create Bootable Media to create an ISO image file and save it on your local disk.

Create bootable media

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

Virtual machine setting

4. Start the virtual machine from a bootable ISO file. It will run AOMEI Backupper automatically. In the main page of AOMEI Backupper, click Recovery -> Select Task.

AOMEI backupper select task

5. Select the Disk Backup you want to recover and click Next.

Disk Backup

6. Select Restore the entire disk or a partition and click Next.

7. Then you need to select the target disk or partition on the virtual machine to restore the backup image. Preview the actions that will be performed. Confirm and click Start Restore.

#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 fine, you can even store it on a NAS).
  2. Make a bootable ISO file and put it on a USB flash drive.
  3. Boot the virtual machine from a bootable USB. After logging in you will see the AOMEI Backupper loaded. Follow step 4.5.6 above and 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 the action on the Operation Summary page, then click the Start Restore button.

🧱 Tips:
  • If the recovery target is an SSD, you can check the SSD Alignment option to optimize the read/write speed of the target SSD.
  •  If the destination disc is larger than the source disc, it is recommended to click Edit Partitions to resize the partition or position it at the destination.
edit partitions


This is all about how to clone a hard drive to a virtual machine. You can easily do this using AOMEI Backupper's backup and recovery features. The most important part of the recovery process is to check the "Universal Restore" feature, if your computer has different hardware.

 In addition, AOMEI Backupper is not only a P2V migration tool, but also a powerful disk cloning software. Of course, if you are looking for specialized disk cloning software windows 10, AOMEI Partition Assistant can meet more of your needs. When you want to upgrade the hard drive on your computer When you want, you can use it to transfer your data and system from the old hard drive to the new one with just a few clicks.

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