Monday, May 2, 2011

Best practices for using and troubleshooting VMware Converter : KB1004588

These steps are not a recommendation against using certain features of VMware Converter in normal use but rather as a guide to assist in troubleshooting general failures with Converter.
If you encounter a specific failure, open the Converter log file, identify the failure message near the end of the log file and perform a search in the VMware Knowledge base ( for more detailed assistance on the issue.
The best approach to converting a Windows operating system to a virtual machine is to perform a hot migration with VMware Converter installed locally in the operating system. If this is not possible, a remote hot migration is the next best choice. Performing a cold migration using the Converter boot CD is the final choice as it may require additional drivers.
Warning: Using the Converter boot CD to perform a conversion on a Windows NT source upgrades the file system. The upgrade may affect your ability to use disk check and defrag tools or even start the operating system. You must have Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 or greater installed on the source before attempting to use the Converter boot CD.
Note: Currently, only VMware Converter 4.2 supports physical to virtual machine conversion for Linux sources. For earlier versions of Converter, the support is experimental and some of the features, such as partition resizing, are not available. Some Linux operating systems must be converted using the Converter boot CD and a Converter Enterprise license is required to access the Converter boot CD.

Notes and preparation for conversion

To prepare for conversion:

  1. If the source is a domain controller, special considerations must be made. VMware does not recommend virtualizing an active domain controller with Converter. For more information, see Virtualizing domain existing controllers (1006996).
  2. If the source is Microsoft Exchange, SQL, or other database server, VMware recommends that the application (Microsoft Exchange/SQL) and database services be shut down prior to conversion. This minimizes any chance of corrupted database tables or stale data in the destination virtual machine.
  3. Disable the real-time antivirus scanning during the conversion.
  4. Read the VMware Converter release notes. The release notes review important limitations or issues that may affect the conversion process. See the Converter download page at
  5. Verify that you are using or have downloaded the latest version of VMware Converter.
    If you have previously installed or attempted a conversion with an earlier version of VMware Converter, a previous version may still be installed.

    1. Uninstall VMware Converter from the source computer.
      1. Click Start > Control Panel > Add / Remove Programs.
      2. Uninstall any version of VMware Converter, Converter agent, or Converter Enterprise.

    2. Restart the server.
    3. Install the latest version of VMware Converter using the local Administrator account. If you are going to use the remote hot clone feature you may choose a custom installation to only install the Converter Agent.
    4. If the server is running Windows 2000 or Windows NT, you must restart the server or Converter does not start.

  6. Install VMware Converter directly to the source operating system using the local Administrator account. If the source server is running Windows NT or Windows 2000, you must reboot it after installing VMware Converter or Converter does not start.

    Note: In some cases, a domain administrator account may be used depending on your environment, local and group policies, and account permissions.

  7. Confirm that the source has 200 MB of free disk space on its system volume. This space is required to operate the disk snapshot features in Converter. For more information, see Investigating operating system disk space (1004007).

    Note: It is possible to separate the source partitions in different destination volumes during the conversion.

  8. Run VMware Converter as a local administrator. Using a local administrator account removes any possible permissions issues. If you are performing a remote conversion, be sure to specify the login user as the Administrator account.

    Note: In some cases a domain administrator account may be used depending on your environment, local and group policies, and account permissions.

  9. Run the System Configuration Utility(msconfig) on the source server to reduce the number of services and applications running on startup, all software except for All Microsoft Services and VMware Converter Service. For more information, see Using the Windows System Configuration utility (1004010).
  10. If you have static IP addresses assigned, assign the interfaces DHCP addresses prior to conversion, if possible.
  11. If the source is a virtual machine created in Microsoft Virtual PC, remove the Virtual PC Additions, prior to conversion.
  12. If the destination is an ESX host:
    • Connect to the server using its IP address instead of DNS host name. Using the host name of the ESX host may expose issues with DNS name resolution that can prevent the Converter from connecting.
    • Confirm that the source server can access the destination ESX host directly using ports 443 and 902, even if using VirtualCenter. For more information, see Checking networking connections between Converter end points (1006607).
    • Authenticate to the ESX host using the root account.
    • If the source server contains a hard drive or partition larger than 256GB, ensure that the destination datastore's block size is 2MB, 4MB, or 8MB, and not the default 1MB size. The 1 MB default block size cannot accommodate a file larger than 256 GB.
    • Confirm that you are providing a unique name for the target virtual machine. Use the Virtual Infrastructure (VI) client to confirm that the name is not already in use.

Setting up the conversion for best success

To set up conversion for the best success:

  1. If you are encountering failures with Converter, reduce the the number of optional items as follows in the Conversion Wizard:

    • Do not convert diagnostic partitions or unrecognized file systems.
    • If you are experiencing cloning phase failures, do not choose to resize the partitions.
    • If you are experiencing network or Ethernet issues, trying using a different network type. For more information, see Understanding networking types in hosted products (1006480).
    • Leave the default number of virtual network cards (NICs) unaltered. The number of virtual NICs can be changed after conversion has completed.
    • Deselect the option to install VMware Tools.
    • Deselect the option to perform Customization on the virtual machine.

Tasks to perform after conversion has completed

After conversion has completed:

  1. Review the virtual hardware settings:

    • Adjust the number of virtual NICs. If you need to customize the host name or IP address, leave all NICs disconnected but present.
    • Remove any unnecessary devices such as USB controllers (if running on ESX), COM ports or floppy drives

  2. Start the virtual machine in Safe Mode. For more information, see Booting a Windows Guest Operating System into Safe Mode (1004011).
  3. Click Start > Control Panel > Add / Remove Programs. Remove any unnecessary programs used to install or support device drivers, such a RAID management tools, network teaming or management software, wireless card management software, and video and sound drivers. Do not restart if prompted by an uninstall program.
  4. Restart the virtual machine into Normal mode.
  5. Remove any additional devices or device drivers that were used to support hardware on the physical server. Use either the Device Manager or Control Panel, depending on the version of Windows, to remove unnecessary devices. It may also be necessary to view the Event Log to clear any remaining device startup failure messages.
  6. VMware recommends changing the HAL in the virtual machine to uniprocessor i f the source server is configured with multi-CPU hardware abstraction layer (HAL), and the destination virtual machine is configured to use a single CPU. For more information, see Modifying the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for a Windows virtual machine (1003978).
  7. Install VMware Tools and restart if prompted.
  8. If required, customize the virtual machine's identity. VMware recommend using the Microsoft Sysprep utility to accomplish this, however it can also be accomplished by manually changing its computer host name, IP address, and any other required unique identification. For more information, see How to Use Sysprep: An Introduction.
  9. If the System Configuration Utility(msconfig) was used prior to conversion, select the Normal startup option to change switch back to a normal boot configuration. For more information, see Using the Windows System Configuration utility (1004010).
  10. Apply any previously removed static IP address settings, as required.
  11. Reconnect any disconnected virtual NICs, as required.

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