Posts By: Tom Swanson

Live! 360 Monday

Live! 360 began in Orlando, FL on Sunday, November 12 with new Pre-Conference Hands On Labs sessions. Topics included Angular and Xamarin for developers, SQL High Availability, Ethical Hacking and Windows Troubleshooting for System Admins, and SharePoint Search Management and Microsoft Team Development for the Office pros. All sessions were full day sessions.

Monday featured a selection of all day pre-conference sessions. I attended the session on Windows Security with expert Sami Laiho. These deep dive sessions let you spend an entire day with very accessible experts. In between, a sit down luncheon of chicken served on polenta with vegetables, salad, and carrot cake for dessert. While not the main reason to attend the conference, it is a bonus when the food served is this good.

Tonight is the Dine-A-Round dinner which will begin at the conference center. We will walk over to Margaritaville where we will be served complimentary appetizers. From there, we will divide up and go to dinner at one of the many great restaurants at CityWalk.

I will be there tonight in my very bright orange Hawaiian shirt. So, if you are looking for a group to hang with at the conference, you can at least look for the orange Hawaiian shirt. There will also be many of the speakers at the Dine-A-Round. I will post my dinner location on my Twitter account, @ITCertPro.

Like many ITCertPros that have been studying Microsoft technology, I have worked with virtual machines for studying the technology as well as supporting production servers. I have used Virtual PC, Virtual Server, and Hyper-V to create virtual environments to learn about software before I take a certification test. Having a computer that could boot multiple operating systems was one option, but it was usually difficult to setup. Each OS had to have its own partition, which meant trying to re-partition your current hard drive or buying a new hard drive.

Beginning with Windows 7, we gained another option: Boot to VHD (Virtual Hard Disk). This allows us to create an OS installation inside a Microsoft VHD file and boot the computer from the OS in the VHD. Typically, VHDs are used as the hard drive for Microsoft virtual machines, such as Hyper-V and Virtual PC.

I have been working with bootable VHDs for about three years now. They can be very useful for trying out different operating systems. My original reason for installing a bootable VHD was to use Windows Server 2008R2 and Hyper-V. Windows 7 and Virtual PC do not support 64 bit operating systems, so it is impossible to work with virtual Windows Server machines. I wanted to use Microsoft virtualization for my virtual machines, so I knew that I had to use Hyper-V and Server 2008. By using a bootable VHD with Windows Server 2008, I spared myself the trouble of having to re-partition my hard drive.

Another reason for using bootable VHDs is to participate in BYOD HOLs* (Bring Your Own Device Hands On Labs, my new acronym combination. J) TechMentor and Live! 360 both offer Deep Dive Sessions and Hands on Labs that require participants to bring their own computers for the labs. So unless you have spare laptops you can reformat or can remotely connect to a server, a bootable VHD might be your best solution.

The solution I am presenting is not my own, and is mostly based on a blog post by Harold Wong of Microsoft. The best feature of Mr. Wong’s procedure is that it mostly uses GUI tools instead of the command prompt. However, the article left me with some questions. After doing some research on some more blogs and websites, I have answers to my questions and I thought that it would be helpful to have all this information in one place. I have placed references below to all the websites that I have used to create this article. Also, while Mr. Wong’s article gave detailed instructions for creating the VHD in Windows 7, I am going to focus my instructions on creating the VHD in Windows 8. The techniques used in these instructions can be used to create VHDs of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2.


  1. The main OS on your laptop needs to be at least Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
  2. Installation files for the OS you will be installing to the VHD. You can use Evaluation versions or licensed versions. This might be a DVD or USB drive. It could also be an .ISO file. Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 are able to natively mount ISO files However, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will need a program like Magic ISO to mount the files.
  3. A copy of imagex.exe from the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK).

Creating the VHD

  1. Open the Computer Management Console. (Press Windows X and choose Computer Management or Press Windows R and type compmgmt.msc)
  2. Click on Disk Management.
  3. Right Click on Disk Management and select Create VHD
  4. In the Create and Attach Virtual hard Disk dialog box:
    1. In the Location, enter a path and filename for the VHD. Consider using a dedicated folder to store your VHDs.
    2. Enter a size for the virtual hard disk. Mr. Wong recommends 20 GB. If you are considering installing applications, especially Office 2013, consider 30 – 35 GB.
    3. Choose a virtual hard disk format. Dynamically expanding will work well.
  5. Right Click on the newly created virtual disk and select Initialize Disk. Right click in the volume area and format the disk as a simple volume.
  6. (Optional) If you possibly may want to use this disk later with Hyper-V, Right Click on the volume and select Mark Partition as Active.
  7. Open a command prompt running as Administrator.
  8. Type the following command: imagex /apply e:sourcesinstall.wim 1 f: where e: is the drive letter of the OS source files f: is the drive letter of the virtual disk 1 is the index number for the image and is the correct value for a client OS.
  9. (Optional) If you are installing a Windows Server OS to the VHD, it is helpful to identify an index number for an image containing the GUI tools instead of the Server Core.
    1. Open a Windows PowerShell prompt running as Administrator and type: Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath e:sourcesinstall.wim
    2. Look for an image labeled SERVERDATACENTER (not SERVERDATACENTERCORE). This is the index number you will want to use instead.
  10. (Optional) Make a backup copy of the VHD.
    1. From the Computer Management Console, Click on Disk Management.
    2. Right Click on the VHD drive and select Detach VHD.
    3. Open Windows Explorer and browse to the folder containing the VHD.
    4. Copy the VHD to another folder or USB drive.
    5. Back in the Computer Management Console, Right Click on Disk Management and select Attach VHD
    6. In the Attach Virtual Hard Disk dialog box, Browse to the VHD file and click on the Open button
    7. Click OK
  11. Go back to the previously opened command prompt or open another command prompt running as Administrator.
  12. Type the following command: bcdboot f:windows where f: is the drive letter given to the currently mounted VHD.
  13. The first time you boot to this partition, Windows will detect drivers and prompt you with the tasks you would normally run on a new installation.
  14. One more note, when you reboot windows, the currently mounted VHDs will be dismounted the next time you reboot. This is normal.
  15. If you want an even easier method, Hugo Häggmark has created a script to do most of the work. But where is the fun in that? J

Remove the VHD from the Boot Menu

If you are done with the VHD and no longer want to boot to it, you can remove it from the boot menu using these steps.

  1. Open MSCONFIG. Press Windows R on the keyboard, type msconfig, and press enter.
  2. Click on the Boot tab
  3. Highlight the entry for the VHD
  4. Click on the Delete Button

Expand the VHD

This method will work for a detached and unencrypted VHD. I recommend running this from your computer’s main OS.

  1. Make a Backup copy of your VHD.
  2. Open a command prompt running as Administrator.
  3. Type DiskPart and hit enter.
  4. Type select vdisk file=f:vhdmydisk.vhd where f:vhdmydisk.vhd is the path and filename to the VHD you want to expand.
  5. Type expand vdisk maximum=30000 where 30000 is the new size in Mb. 30,000 would be close to 30 Gb.
  6. Open the Computer Management Console.
  7. Click on Disk Management.
  8. Right Click on Disk Management and select Attach VHD
  9. In the Attach Virtual Hard Disk dialog box, Browse to the VHD file and click on the Open button
  10. Click OK
  11. Right click on the volume you want to extend and select Extend Volume.
  12. (Optional) If the VHD is encrypted with BitLocker, it will detect that the drive has been tampered with.
    1. When booting, you must enter the recovery key and boot into Safe Mode.
    2. Go to BitLocker Drive Encryption manager and hit Manage BitLocker.
    3. Change the PIN and save the new recovery key.

Add the VHD to Hyper-V

  1. Open the Computer Management Console.
  2. Click on Disk Management.
  3. Right Click on Disk Management and select Attach VHD
  4. In the Attach Virtual Hard Disk dialog box, Browse to the VHD file and click on the Open button
  5. Click OK
  6. Right Click on the volume and select Mark Partition as Active.
  7. Open the Hyper-V Manager
  8. From the Actions pane, click on New, Virtual Machine.
  9. Click Next
  10. Name the Virtual Machine
  11. Check the box to Store the virtual machine in a different location.
  12. Browse to the folder of the VHD. Click Next.
  13. Enter value for Startup memory and decide whether to use Dynamic Memory. Click Next.
  14. Configure Networking and Click Next.
  15. Select Use an existing virtual hard disk. Browse to the location of the VHD. Click Next.
  16. Click Finish. You can now use your VHD with Hyper-V.


Harold Wong, How to Create Windows 8 VHD for Boot to VHD using simple, easy to follow steps,

Keith Combs, Dual Boot from VHD Using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2,

Hugo Häggmark, Creating a bootable VHD the easy way, TechNet, Windows Server Installation Options,

Nicklas Håkansson, Expanding VHD,

Daniel Petri, How to Extend a Disk Partition in Windows Vista and Server 2008,

You can win a five day conference pass to Live! 360 in Orlando, Florida! (valued at $2,395)

Enter on our Contest Page.

The conference will be held at the beautiful Royal Pacific Resort at Universal, November 12-17.

What can I tell you about this conference? First of all, the food is great. Don’t just take my word for it. I heard this from some of the speakers who work a lot of tech conferences and they have even commented about the food.

Next, the conference venue is on Universal property. This means that you can walk from the hotel to CityWalk and the theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. And now, Universal has opened their new water park, Volcano Bay. And, yes, it may be warm enough for Volcano Bay in November. Can you see why Live! 360 is called a “Tech-Cation”.

Then, there is the Dessert Luau on Thursday. Delicious desserts, drinks, plus talented dancers and musicians to entertain you. My favorite part is when the chief dances with the flaming torches. And maybe at the end, you will be one of the lucky ones to be invited on stage to learn the hula.

Let’s see. Food. Theme Park fun. Luau. What did I forget? Oh, yeah, the conference!

Live! 360 is 5 conferences in one.

  • Visual Studio Live!
  • SQL Server Live!
  • TechMentor
  • Office & SharePoint Live!
  • Modern Apps Live!

And the cool things is when you register for one conference, you register for them all.

For example, I am a systems administrator. My main conference is TechMentor. But I also work with SharePoint and SQL Server. So, when I see a session in SharePoint or SQL Server that interests me, I just walk on over and attend. It is that easy.

And the speakers are all top notch. Many of the speakers are authors or have created video training courses. And they are ACCESSIBLE! Have you ever been to a conference and wanted to talk to a speaker, but the line was a mile long? Not at Live! 360. Most of the speakers stay throughout the conference. You couldn’t get a chance to talk to them after their session? Talk to them at the exhibitor reception. Or maybe sit down with them at lunch.

And talk to each other, too. One of my favorite parts of Live! 360 is the people that I meet. I have a friend, Mark, who I met through the conference. We have met up for the past 3 years and I hope to see him again this year. Last year, I met a man named Shalom who had this incredibly positive outlook on life. These friendships started out on the first day of the conference at the Dine-A-Round dinner which will be held on Monday.

Even if you are not attending the Pre-Conference sessions, join us for the Dine-A-Round where we meet up for free appetizers and then set out in groups to find dinner at CityWalk.

If all of this sounds good to you and you want to register NOW, save some money by using my code: UGOR06

I will be there. Will you?

After being away for far too long, ITCertPro is happy to present our new website design!

Along with the new design, in the coming weeks, we will also be offering new services to help businesses with their online marketing needs.

ITCertPro will still be a place to come for interesting news on technology and certification, with some fun thrown in for good measure. Also, look for tutorials on supporting technology for the IT Professional.

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