Two days ago my notebook hard disk drive started failing... or at least the system seems to have stopped the disk (while I was away) and after I reset the system S.M.A.R.T. message appeared warning me of imminent disk failure and urging me to backup the data immediately. I have all my correspondence on that notebook but that's not the problem - the problem is that I have Office there and IM there and Skype and that I didn't (and still don't) want to pollute my development PCs with all those applications. While I was researching my options I stumbled upon VMWare Converter which turned out to be just what the doctor ordered: I used the application to convert the physical PC to a virtual OS image on my main development PC. The conversion process took almost 48 hours to finish (I had to restart the conversion process at one point due to network router reset) but it was worth it - I now have my notebook's image running on the development PC and it's working really great.
So VMWare Converter is pretty cool product as it is but here's my wish list for it:
1. Allow virtual machine to physical machine conversions! This is crucial. With this the circle would be complete allowing in my case for example to transfer back my notebook OS image to new hard disk drive once it's installed. It can be done (google for "VMWare V2P" without the quotes or see here) but not directly from the software and using 3rd party tools only (for hard disk image transfer)
2. Extend the software so that it can used as an incremental backup tool. Instead of backing up parts of hard disk, one would backup the entire system as a virtual OS image and VMWare would in future backups correctly recognize and backup just the changed parts. Then if the original PC say gets broken, lost, stolen, whatever one could be up and running the same image (as it was backed up) immediately.
3. Allow selection of parts of hard disks to be backed up. There are folders that contain huge amounts of data that doesn't really matter or is backed up somewhere else and which takes precious time during the conversion process.
4. In the case of network failure, conversion process is not reset but resumed once network comes up again (this was the only major annoyance but it was really *major* and it could have been avoided rather easily I think)
5. Allow VMWare Converter to be licensed on its own. Right now there is the free version and the Enterprise version which cannot be licensed on its own but one has to licenses who-knows-what to get it.
Once I get my notebook back I may dare and try Virtual 2 Physical (V2P) conversion. If I do, I'll post the results here. Somehow I have a feeling that it won't be as nearly as smooth as Physical 2 Virtual (P2V) conversion.