How to Boot from VHD

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If you are like me and heard about being able to boot from a VHD but put it on the back burner of things to try later, I’m here to encourage you to move it up the list. You’ll be very impressed with how easy it is! As IT people we are always needing a temporary workstation or server to use to test some procedure or use as a temporary DC during migrations so you’re going to find this really useful.

Here’s how:

I’m starting with a Windows 8 PC running on a single drive with a single partition, C.

  1. Download a VHD of the OS you’d like to use. I used Server 2012. With server 2012 when you download the VHD is arrives compressed. Just double click it to uncompress it and save the VHD to C:\Server2012VHD\Server2012.vhd
  2. Next browse to C:\Server2012VHD and right click the Server2012.vhd file and select Mount. This will assign it a drive letter.
  3. Now that you have a mounted VHD you need to add it to your boot options. In an elevated command prompt type:

BCDBOOT <mounted_drive_letter>:\WINDOWS

4. Reboot and now you’ll see an additional OS available for selection. Amazingly it’s that easy!

Now when you boot into your server, the C drive will be the server software and the D drive (or another drive letter depending on your configuration) will be your other OS and files. Be careful not to alter that one.

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