Virtualization Testing Macrium Reflect restore using VirtualBox virtual machine


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When making your first Macrium Reflect image of your PC the final test that the image is full and complete would be to boot from the Reflect rescue media and perform a full restore. This is not something you'd want to risk trying just as a test, so many do not do a restore until circumstances mean that they have to do it for real. That is perhaps not the best time to learn how to restore, and it's certainly a very bad time to find out that your image is missing an important partition.

This article offers a safe way to practice a full bare metal restore to a new machine, without risking destroying your PC if it goes badly wrong. Rather than restoring to your (perhaps only) PC the restore will be performed in a Virtual Machine (VM). Hyper-V is only available in Windows 11 Pro, so this tutorial will use Oracle VirtualBox, a free Open Source solution that can run on both Home and Pro editions.


Requirements before you start:

A PC with Windows 11 installed (recommended minimum 8GB RAM, preferably using an SSD rather than an HDD).
Macrium Reflect v8 installed (Free will do).
Oracle VirtualBox installed.

1 Preparation
If you have not done so already, install Macrium Reflect and make a system image of your PC to an external hard drive.


Download and install Oracle VirtualBox. There are no special requirements, just a default install.


2 Create Reflect rescue media

In order to restore a Macrium image you'll need to boot the machine from the Reflect rescue media. For a VM you will need to make an ISO of the rescue media so that you can attach it to the VM's virtual CD/DVD drive.

Open Reflect. Click on the Rescue icon, top left. Select ISO File and set a destination to save it to.

Reflect - make ISO.png


3 Create a new VirtualBox VM

Open the VirtualBox Manager and click on the 'New' icon. You will open the 'Create a new virtual machine' window in 'Guided mode'. There is no need to switch to 'Expert Mode', the defaults will create a suitable VM.

VirtualBox -Welcome.png


Select the Type as Microsoft Windows, and the Version as Windows 11 (64 bit), then click Next. This will create a VM with EFI enabled, suitable for restoring an image of a Windows 11 that was installed on a supported device.

VirtualBox -Create VM.png



4 Set RAM for the VM

The next step is to set the physical RAM allocated to the VM. Note that when the VM is running it has exclusive use of this RAM, and that as a consequence the RAM available to your Host machine's Windows is reduced by this amount. If you have 8GB or more installed RAM then accept the default and click Next.

It is possible to run a VM if you only have 4GB installed RAM, but it will be slow. You'll need to set just 2GB for the VM to use, leaving the other 2GB for your Host PC's own Windows. Both your Host and the VM will be short of memory and there will be a lot of swapfile activity.



VirtualBox -Create VM (memory).png



5 Set virtual disk for the VM

Next comes setting up the virtual disk for the VM to use. In most cases clicking Next to accept the defaults offered will be sufficient. The size of disk you create does not have to be as large as the one you made a Reflect image of, but it does have to be large enough to hold the total used space from your image.

Reflect will resize the restored partitions to fit the available space, but only if there is enough space to hold all the used data.

VirtualBox -Create VM (disk size).png
VirtualBox -Create VM (disk type).png

VirtualBox -Create VM (disk storage type).png
Vitualbox - disk location.png



6 Attach rescue media ISO

You have now created virtual machine, but it has no OS yet. You now need to set it up so it can boot it from the Reflect rescue ISO you made in Step 2. To do that you need to insert the ISO into the VM's virtual optical drive. In the settings for your new VM click on [Optical Drive] Empty under Storage, then browse and find your rescue ISO.

VirtualBox -add ISO to VM.png


7 Make your Reflect image available to restore

In order to restore your Macrium Reflect image your VM has to be able to find it. The easiest way to do that is to make the HDD that holds the image available as a network share. Your new VM has a network adapter, and when booted from the Reflect recovery ISO it will be able to see shares on the Host machine.

Plug the USB HDD that holds your image into your Host PC. On the Share tab, share the drive and grant Full control share permission for Everyone. Click the OK button on each window to close it and set up sharing.


HDD share permission for everyone (with notes).png


Note the Network Path for your share, you will need this later.

HDD - network path.png



8 Set file permissions

Now you also need to set the NTFS permissions for the drive to give Full Control for Everyone on the Security tab. To do that you will first have to add Everyone.

HDD add ntfs permission for everyone.png


You will see a few reports that you are unable to set permissions for some system folders. This is normal and can be ignored.

HDD add ntfs permission error (ignore).png




8 Start your VM

You are now ready to start the VM for the first time. You will see a 'Press any key to boot from DVD...' notice. Do so and you will boot from the Reflect recovery ISO.

Reflect in VM - booting up.png


9 Map network drive

You will now need to map a network drive to the HDD being shared by your Host machine. Click Browse for an image file... then click the Map Network Drive icon at the top left of the Select an image file... window. Use the network path you noted earlier from Step 7. You will not need to provide a user name or password.

Reflect in VM - map share.png


Then you will be able to find your .mrimg file and restore it as if you were using a physical machine.

Reflect in VM - found image.png


Reflect in VM - restored.png



9 Booting the restored virtual machine

The first time your restored VM boots Windows will find that its hardware has changed. It will spend a little while installing new drivers....


VirtualBox - VM getting devices ready.png


When it had finished getting devices ready it should then reboot to your working restored machine.

VirtualBox - VM logging in.png




10 Tidying up afterwards.

You should stop sharing the external HDD once you have finished using it, but before you eject it from the Host machine.

The object of this exercise was to practice a full restore without risking your PC, and to test that the Reflect image was a complete and working image of your PC.

You may want to keep this VM, but you should note that, as a new machine, it will not be activated by your Host machine's digital license. Any VM counts as a different machine and would require activating in its own right with a new key.

Most people would want to delete the VM after a successful test, releasing the (very real) space its virtual drive has taken up on your PC. To do that, select Machine > Remove in the Oracle VirtualBox Manager. You will be able to delete both the VM and all its files.

VirtualBox - remove VM.png




11 Some notes on screen resolution

Depending on the resolution of your Host machine's screen, you may find the VirtualBox VM window cannot display the whole of the VM's screen at one time, having scroll bars so that you can move around and see the rest of it. You can switch the window to Scaled Mode, where the VM's screen is scaled to fit inside a window that you can resize to suit you display.

With VirtualBox you can at any time switch from Normal to Scaled Mode from the window's View menu, or by pressing Host+C. The 'Host' key is by default your Host machine's right hand Ctrl key.

VirtualBox - VM - select Scale Mode.png


In Scaled Mode you will see all of your VM's screen. You can switch back to Normal mode by pressing Host+C again. You can also switch to Full-screen Mode using Host+F.

VirtualBox - VM - in Scale Mode.png





That's it,

Bree.
 

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Wynona

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@Bree a great tut and as @cereberus said it can be extended to other VMs. My personal favourite free VM is VMware Workstation 16 Player.
Thanks, @Fabler2. Once I have Bree's tutorial under my belt, d'ya think I can create a tutorial for this one? Remembering that I'm learning this along with my students.
 

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Fabler2

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Thanks, @Fabler2. Once I have Bree's tutorial under my belt, d'ya think I can create a tutorial for this one? Remembering that I'm learning this along with my students.
I was going to have a go using VMware using this,


then realised it would not be activated so abandoned it. Will just stick to dual booting.
 

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Wynona

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I was going to have a go using VMware using this,


then realised it would not be activated so abandoned it. Will just stick to dual booting.
I'm already dual booting, so would need to triple boot. The real issue would be to teach my students to dual boot. That may be a tiny bit above my pay grade of $0.0 per hour. :oops:
 

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cereberus

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Thanks, @Fabler2. Once I have Bree's tutorial under my belt, d'ya think I can create a tutorial for this one? Remembering that I'm learning this along with my students.
There is already a tutorial for using Viboot with Hyper-V.

The ViBoot GUI is virtually (no pun intended) identical when using Virtualbox except VM runs in Virtualbox rather than Hyper-V.

The Viboot GUI is designed so you do not need to use the Hyper-V GUI or Virtualbox GUI.



The only difference is you have to select virtualbox as your hypervisor from the tools menu - see below.

Otherwise everything else is the same, and virtualbox is fired up rather than Hyper-V.

Note: if you also have hyper-v installed, run this command first from an admin command prompt to turn off hyper-V - this makes virtualbox run much faster.

Code:
bcdedit /set {current} hypervisorlaunchtype off

To turn Hyper-V back on run:

Code:
bcdedit /set {current} hypervisorlaunchtype auto

Virtualbox will still run but will be very slow.

1654013143910.png
 

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cereberus

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I'm already dual booting, so would need to triple boot. The real issue would be to teach my students to dual boot. That may be a tiny bit above my pay grade of $0.0 per hour. :oops:
@Kari and @Brink have written tutorials for this. It is just a question of joining the dots.


1) create vhdx from disk management

2) mount it as a drive (right click vhdx, select mount)

3) restore reflect image to vhdx (you already know how to do this i.e. select image, select target drive)

4) add boot entry - as in @Kari tutorial Step 2.6

5) Reboot pc.
 

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jimbo45

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I was going to have a go using VMware using this,


then realised it would not be activated so abandoned it. Will just stick to dual booting.
Thats a great advantage of using VHDX physical files - you can clone a "standard" w10 / w11 installs to those all on vhdx files and they remain activated. So its easily possible to have several versions on "multiboot" all activated which isn't the case on VM systems.

BTW though when moving / copying a VM created by VMware -- at ist boot of the moved / copied VM reply "I MOVED it" rather than I COPIED it" as the "Copy" will create a new UUIDD which the Ms servers will think it's a new machine rather than an existing one and you'll lose activation.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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Haydon

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Thats a great advantage of using VHDX physical files - you can clone a "standard" w10 / w11 installs to those all on vhdx files and they remain activated. So its easily possible to have several versions on "multiboot" all activated which isn't the case on VM systems.

BTW though when moving / copying a VM created by VMware -- at ist boot of the moved / copied VM reply "I MOVED it" rather than I COPIED it" as the "Copy" will create a new UUIDD which the Ms servers will think it's a new machine rather than an existing one and you'll lose activation.

Cheers
jimbo
Can the following be done?

1. Host machine has W10 Pro, does not satisfy W11 system requirements.
2. Create a VM/VHDX that you clone the host machine on so that W10 Pro remains activated with BitLocker and all apps and all user data intact.
3. Enhance the VM/VHDX (add TPM and the like) so that it does satisfy W11 system requirements.
4. Do an in-place upgrade to an activated W11 Pro with BitLocker and all apps and all user data intact.
5. Only single boot to W11 Pro is desired, no dual boot is desired.

I may have missed something very fundamental, I ask anyway 🤷‍♂️
 

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cereberus

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Can the following be done?

1. Host machine has W10 Pro, does not satisfy W11 system requirements.
2. Create a VM/VHDX that you clone the host machine on so that W10 Pro remains activated with BitLocker and all apps and all user data intact.
3. Enhance the VM/VHDX (add TPM and the like) so that it does satisfy W11 system requirements.
4. Do an in-place upgrade to an activated W11 Pro with BitLocker and all apps and all user data intact.
5. Only single boot to W11 Pro is desired, no dual boot is desired.

I may have missed something very fundamental, I ask anyway


It is a bit more complicated as you have to use Hyper-V

1. Remove Bitlocker

2. Create reflect image backup of host pc to external drive in case next steps go wrong.

3. Clone Host PC to VHDX file using Reflect

4. Attach Vhdx file to Hyper-V vm with Hyper-V tpm emulation and secure boot set.

5. run W10 in vm and upgrade to W11

6. Close vm and mount vhdx file as a drive.

7. Create reflect image backup mounted vhdx drive to external drive

8. copying vhdx file to external usb as well is a good idea

9. restore image backup to host pc (booting from Reflect usb drive)

10 boot pc and it should boot into W11. If not, try reflect "fix windows boot problems"

11. Assuming pc boos ok, reenable bitlocker

If it all falls apart, restore w10 image on step 2.

May seem a bit complicated but apart from bitlocker, that is what I did to get my older non w11 compatible pc running W11 without a clean install.
 

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cereberus

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Can the following be done?

1. Host machine has W10 Pro, does not satisfy W11 system requirements.
2. Create a VM/VHDX that you clone the host machine on so that W10 Pro remains activated with BitLocker and all apps and all user data intact.
3. Enhance the VM/VHDX (add TPM and the like) so that it does satisfy W11 system requirements.
4. Do an in-place upgrade to an activated W11 Pro with BitLocker and all apps and all user data intact.
5. Only single boot to W11 Pro is desired, no dual boot is desired.

I may have missed something very fundamental, I ask anyway 🤷‍♂️

It is a bit more complicated as you have to use Hyper-V

1. Remove Bitlocker

2. Create reflect image backup of host pc to external drive in case next steps go wrong.

3. Clone Host PC to VHDX file using Reflect

4. Attach Vhdx file to Hyper-V vm with Hyper-V tpm emulation and secure boot set.

5. run W10 in vm and upgrade to W11

6. Close vm and mount vhdx file as a drive.

7. Create reflect image backup of mounted vhdx drive to external drive

8. copying vhdx file to external usb as well is a good idea (not essential)

9. restore image backup to host pc (booting from Reflect usb drive)

10 boot pc and it should boot into W11. If not, try reflect "fix windows boot problems"

11. Assuming pc boots ok, reenable bitlocker

If it all falls apart, restore w10 image on step 2 and reenable bitlocker.

May seem a bit complicated but apart from bitlocker, that is what I did to get my older non w11 compatible pc running W11 without a clean install.
 
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    16 GB
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    Realtek built in
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Haydon

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May seem a bit complicated but apart from bitlocker, that is what I did to get my older non w11 compatible pc running W11 without a clean install.
Frankly, that bit scares me :eek1: Although I am happy that it worked for you :) I am also happy that there seems to be no conceptual misunderstandings on my part :)
 

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cereberus

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Frankly, that bit scares me :eek1: Although I am happy that it worked for you :) I am also happy that there seems to be no conceptual misunderstandings on my part :)
The important bit is using Hyper-V to emulate tpm requirements.
 

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    Integrated Intel Iris XE
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    Realtek built in
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jimbo45

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Hi folks
The chances are that it will fail on the CPU requirement -- one way is in the VM to poodlefake the CPU topoplgy in the VM so W11 meets requirements (inc "Virtual TPM V2") , sec boot and "Virtual CPU". TPM emulation on this VM is the IBM one.

I created a VM with this CPU -- on a Windows Host if it's allowed also change the CPU in the VM's config to something that works and then dump back to a real machine and update drivers.

Screenshot_20220601_081629.png


That QEMU64 CPU passes the W11 test for eligibility.
Note I installed the Windows 11 via dism /Apply-Image.

You can run this VM without problem on even a BIOS only MBR only machine so long as your VM disk is EFI and sec boot.
To run on a physical machine the machine must be EFI boot, allow sec boot and have a physical TPM V2.

The trick is that once W11 is installed and running on a VM - when dumped back to a physical machine it's not going to "Check" to see whether the machine should be running or not. The only potential risk is if something in the internal Windows code starts using CPU instructions that aren't available on your Host CPU then you are likely to get freezes / BSOD's. I doubt if that's going to happen for a long while yet though.

Creating / cloning vhdx files doesn't lose W11 / W10 activations if your "base" system has already been activated so if you have a bog standard retail W10 system you can create multiple versions of both W10 and W11 as multi boot systems with vhdx files and they remain activated. Cloning these physical systems to VM's also keeps the VM activated (usually - depending on the VM system used).

Cheers
jimbo
 
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My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7
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