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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Vmware Standalone converter

Vmware Standalone converter - This VMware product is used to convert
  1. Physical to virtual 
  2. virtual to virtual 
  3. Import virtual machines hosted in the workstation or Hyper V.
  4. Import third party backup machine which can be managed by vCenter .
This is a free product which can be downloaded from vmware website . Alternative to this Plate Spin can be used to Physical to virtual machine conversion which is of-course a paid product.The latest version of stand alone converter is 5.1.

  1. Converter Standalone server : Consists of two services , Converter Standalone server and Converter Standalone worker.
  2. Converter Standalone agent : installs on the source physical machine to import to virtual machine. you can always choose uninstall the agent from physical machine once the import it complete.
  3. Converter Stand alone Client : Converter Standalone server works with client. It consists of user interface for server which provides  access for conversion and configuration wizard

How the converter works : 

  • Stand alone converter uses cloning and system re-configuration steps to create and configure the destination virtual machine so that it works successfully in the vCenter environment.Migration process is non-destructive for the source machine so you can continue using the source machine after conversion completes
  • Cloning process is copying of Physical volumes to destination virtual machine.Cloning involves copying the data from source machines hard disk and transferring the data to destination virtual machine. The Destination machine can have different geometry size, file layout and other characteristics.
  • System reconfiguration adjusts the migrated operating system to enable the function on virtual hardware/
 NOTE :  if you want both the source and destination machine to co -exist , you have to change the IP address and the computer Name.


Using the converter you can perform hot cloning , ie converting the physical machine when its running . It will allow you to convert the virtual machine without shutting down the source . 

How is works?

As the process is converting the running virtual machine , resulting virtual machine is not exact copy of the physical machine. While converting windows physical machine , you can set the converter to synchronize the destination virtual machine after hot cloning. Synchronization is performed from source to destination the blocks that were changes during  the initial cloning period.To avoid loss of data the standalone converter will shutdown certain services so that no critical changes are made at the source machine.

Stand alone converter can shutdown the source machine once the conversion / import is completed.When combined with Synchronization , the virtual machine can take over the source with least possible downtime . 

NOTE : when you hot clone dual boot systems , you can clone only the default operating system to which boot.ini file points . To clone the non-default OS you need to change the boot.ini file . For Linux , you can boot it and then clone using stand alone converter.


  • Standalone converter installs the agent on the source machine and agent takes snapshot of the volumes.i.e VSS snapshot feature of windows is used.
  • Standalone converter create the destination machine and copies the volumes from the source machine to destination machine.
  • Agent installs the required drives to allow the operating system to boot in a virtual machine and personalize the virtual machine. ex change the Ip address.
  • optionally uninstall the agent on the physical source machine.
Pre- requisite : 

  • Turn of Simple file sharing at the source machine 
  • Ensure file and print sharing is not blocked in the firewall
  • Sys prep should be installed on the Standalone converter server - used for guest customization. If guest OS is windows 2003 , sys prep should be copied to %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Application Data\VMware\VMware vCenter Converter Standalone\sysprep\svr2003 .


Unlike windows , there are no agents installed on the source machine . instead of that a helper virtual machine is created at the destination , ie esx/i host .

Working ??

  • The converter creates a empty helper virtual machine at the destination which will be used as the container during the migration. The helper machine boots from the ISO file that is located on the converter standalone server
  • Helper machines connects to the source using SSH and starts retrieving the data from source, you can always select the source volumes that need to be copied .
  • Once copy is completed , destination virtual machine is reconfigure to boot as virtual machine.
  • Converter stops the helper machines once the conversion.


Volume Based - 
  • Volumes are copied from source to destination . 
  • All the dynamic files are read but converted to basic disk at the destination . 
  • There are two type File System level and Block level. File level is used when destination disk is smaller than the original disk or when FAT volume is re-sized. Block level is used when preserve or larger volume size is selected for NTFS source volume.
  • Supported for import existing virtual machine and hot cloning.

DISK Based

  • Supported for import of existing virtual machine.
  • Transfers all the sector from all the disk and preserves the volume metadata.disk properties are same as the source
  • Supports both basic and dynamic disks
Linked Clone 

Is the fastest method of cloning..


Following source computer settings are not changed 
  • Operating system settings i.e computer name , security ID , user accounts , profiles.
  • Application data and data files
  • Volume serial numbers for each disk partition.

Changes after conversion 
  • CPU Model and serial number 
  • Ethernet adapters
  • Graphic Cards
  • Disks and Partitions
  • Primary disk controllers


P2v of Linux Machine

V2VWindows Machine

P2 V Window Machine


  • Converter Standalone cannot detect any source volumes and file systems that are located on physical disks larger than 2TB.
  • Hybrid disk cloning are not supported 
  • Synchronization is supported only for volume-based cloning at the block level and Scheduling synchronization is supported only for managed destinations that are ESX 4.0 or later.
  • When you convert a virtual machine with snapshots, the snapshots are not transferred to the destination virtual machine.

  • Physical to virtual machine conversion fails at 1 %
    This error is usually caused due to the bad sector in the source machine  and due to VSS error. Analyse and defragment the disks in the source machine and try again. If it doesn't work contact the hardware vendor.

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