I recently got a new iMac at work to replace my desktop and clunky, heavy HP Elitebook laptop(which clocks in at a mighty 8.25 pounds). The idea was to slim down to an iMac and a Macbook Pro and use VMWare Fusion to run the Windows operating system for the items I could not do with the iMac.
Everything started off great. I began by installing Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 (which is pretty great) and then a few other nifty little programs I cannot live without on my Mac (Dropbox, LastPass, XMarks, KeePassX, Jump Desktop, and Evernote) and then downloaded and installed VMWare Fusion 5.
Pretty sure I was on my way doing a migration from my clunky 32-bit Windows 7 machine to the new Mac. I kicked it off and went home. The next morning, the migration was complete and I fired up the VM with no issues. Yes! One down, two (or three) to go.
The next one was an already existing VM for Windows XP, and that was simply moving the VM from an old machine to the iMac. About an hour later that was finished (And the was moving from VMWare workstation 7 to VMWare Fusion 5.)
So then it came time to do my main PC: An HP Elitebook 8540w with 8 GB of RAM and 4 CPUs. As I had great success with the Migration Assistant in Fusion 5, I would give that a shot. I kicked it off and let it run its nine (ugh) hours. Sadly, nine hours passed and I got the “migration failed” message.
I tried again (thinking perhaps it was a transient error and got the same result.
So it was time to try the Standalone converter. I uninstalled the PC Migration agent and installed the new version of VMWare Standalone Converter. I had a pretty good feeling about this as I had run this converter before and it worked very well. So I attached an external hard drive to the machine and kicked of the conversion. It got to 98% and failed.
So I uninstalled the Migration Agent, the Standalone converter, and my AV and firewall, then reinstalled the latest Standalone Converter agent and tried again. It failed again at 98%. It was time to call VMWare.
I called and spoke with a person that seemed to want to help at first, but wasn’t real committed to the process. He remoted into the machine and kicked off another migration, this time setting the processors to 1, the memory to 2 GB, disabling all NIC cards and setting the hard drive pro “preserve source.”
I told him it would take a few hours and I would email him when it was finished. Naturally it failed again (at the now incredibly frustration 98%) and I emailed him the results and asked him to call me.
The next day he called me (he when home sick apparently) and remoted in to see the results screen. He asked around a spoke to a few other techs there and they were all in agreement that this issue was unresolvable and nothing further could be done with this PC or to assist me in getting this converted.
I didn’t like this answer.
I thanked him, hung up the phone, opened a web browser and started doing some investigating. Certainly I couldn’t be the only person with this issue, right? The frustrating part of this is that I had done a Standalone migration on this PC before and it worked fine.
I took another look at the error that it generated. The warning before it failed said “Warning: Unable to update the BCD on the destination machine’s system volume” followed by the Error “An error occured during reconfiguration.” The final status of the job was “FAILED: Unable to find the system volume, reconfiguration is not possible.”
So I started my search on the VMWare website and came up with a document that explained how to use BDCEdit to modify the the boot configuration data to allow the Standalone converter to proceed. It seems there was a 100 MB “system reserve” partition that was defining itself a C: and where my data was as D:. I booted up with the Windows 7 install disc and proceeded as instructed, and retried the migration. Again, failure. I went back using the command prompt in the recovery console and BCDEdit shows that the settings had reverted to what they were originally. I changed them once again and rebooted. On a hunch I decided to go back in and, once again, the settings had revered to their original settings. So regardless of how many times I tried this BCDEidt, as long as that system reserve partition existed, the issue would persist.
And this is where it gets a little scary. I knew I needed to get rid of that system reserve partition, but I also need to make sure I could get back into it if the VM Migration didn’t work.
So I proceeded to make a clone of the original disk. I used a Apricorn Sata data cable and EZGig data transfer software to make a duplicate of my original drive on a spare laptop HD that I had laying around. The cloning took about two and half hours but once finished I had a duplicate I could safely play with and not jeopardize the original.
I found a good article on sevenforums.com on how to go about removing the system reserve partition and then another on running the startup repair to restore the boot.ini and such to allow the computer to once again boot. I ran through the startup repair twice and on the third boot attempt I saw the happy windows screen jump to life prompting me to give it a ctrl+alt+del.
Once in I initiated the Standalone conversion. After two hours this time, however, I was met with a much-longed for green “Success!” prompt.
I copied the VDMK over to my iMac, imported it in the Fusion and, ta-da, it worked like a charm.
And the techs at VMware said it couldn’t be done…pashaw!
They just weren’t motivated enough. 🙂