Trying Disk2vhd to back up my laptop’s drive

I’m about to leave on another trip to teach a couple of classes, and I usually back up my laptop before heading to the airport. I usually use Acronis True Image. However, this was a replacement hard drive (see the account of my previous drive’s fate here) and I hadn’t reinstalled Acronis yet.

One more thing to do before I could then back it up and pack it for the trip, I guess. Where’s that serial number?

But while I was staring at Windows Explorer and remembering which virtual hard disks (VHD) I needed to bring for my demos, a dim memory bubbled up to the surface. I thought I’d seen, somewhere, a utility that could do a live migration of a drive from physical to virtual. A quick Binging with Google later, I rediscovered Disk2vhd, which I’d read about a while back, but never tried.

From the description on the utility’s page:

Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk – Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online. Disk2vhd uses Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability, introduced in Windows XP, to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion.

I’m trying it as I write this quick post. I’m creating the VHD on an external USB drive. If I need it later, I can boot to it, I can mount it in a virtual machine, or since I’ve got Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines around, I can mount it directly as a drive to recover files from it.

(I’ll still install Acronis when I’m done, and capture an image as I usually do. We DBA types are paranoid that way.) Results to follow.

Have you backed up to VHD? What’s your experience been? Leave me a comment.