Virtualize your computer (make a virtual copy of it) with Paragon Go Virtual

Virtualization is one the hottest topics in computing circles nowadays because it helps open new doors not available previously; it takes computing to a whole new level. But, what exactly is virtualization? Well here on dotTech we have discussed virtualization in the past, such as my article on Disk2vhd or Locutus’ three-part series on virtual machines, so I am sure many dotTechies are familiar with the concept. However, here is a quick recap (taken from my article on Disk2vhd):

Virtualization technology allows a user to “run an OS in an OS”; in other words, for example, you can have Windows XP 32-bit installed on your computer and run a virtualized version of Windows Vista 64-bit on top of that. The virtualized Windows Vista acts just like if it was installed on your physical machine. However you really didn’t install Windows Vista; you virtualized it and are running it in Windows XP just like you run any other program.

The cool thing about virtualization is you are not limited with what you can do. In other words, you do not have to run Windows on top of Windows; if you have Windows installed natively, you can run a virtual copy of Linux or Mac OS X and vice verse (although, I am fairly certain using Mac OS X on anything but a Mac is technically illegal – thanks Steve Jobs, I hope Bill Gates haunts you in your dreams).

Typically when you go about creating a virtual machine (a “virtual machine” is the what a virtualized OS is called when it is setup and running), you first create a virtual disk and then you install an OS on it (see Locutus’ part one post on virtual machines to learn more about how to create virtual machines). Installing an OS on a virtual machine is just like when you install/reinstall an OS on your physical machine; you start off with a clean slate. Paragon Go Virtual offers you a different way of creating virtual machines.

Paragon Go Virtual is a new program by Paragon Software that allows users to virtualize their current system. In other words, Paragon Go Virtual allows users to create a virtual copy – a virtual disk – of their current OS. The virtual copy is just that – a copy; it copies all the programs, documents, files, etc. that are on your computer at the time that you create the virtual copy. If you are a bit lost after reading what I just wrote, this diagram (by Paragon Software) nicely sums it up:

Once you create a virtual copy of your computer, you can run it in the virtualization program of your choice (VMware, Microsoft Virtual PC, and VirtualBox formats are all supported by Paragon Go Virtual).

Using Paragon Go Virtual is fairly easy, although you do have to go through Paragon Software’s annoying registration process (a small price to pay for quality, free software):

Version reviewed: v10.0.11.11721

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/7

Download size: About 27 MB

License limitations: For non-commercial use only

  • After you have downloaded (32-bit download | 64-bit download) , installed, and registered Paragon Go Virtual, run it (you will also be asked to restart your computer, you don’t have to, but it is better if you do). When you run Paragon Go Virtual, you will be prompted with the quick launcher:

“P2V Copy” is the main attraction to Paragon Go Virtual; it is the feature that allows you to create a virtual copy of your computer. “P2V Adjust OS” is a supplementary feature that allows Vista/Win7 users to adjust their .vhd (Virtual Hard Disk) backups (Windows Vista and later come with a feature that allows users to create a backup of their Windows as a .vhd) so that the .vhd backups will run on a virtual machine.

Click on “P2V Copy” to create a virtual copy of your current system.

  • When you click on “P2V Copy” the P2V Copy Wizard window will pop up; click “Next”:

  • You will then be prompted to select the hard drives and/or partitions that you want to virtualize:

Select the hard drives and/or partitions that you want to virtualize. Remember, a copy is being created – your files will not be changed, deleted, or moved in any way. Whatever selection you make, be sure to select the C:/ partition because it hosts your Windows installation. If you do not select C:/ the virtual machine you create will not run properly. Also note if you select multiple hard drives, a separate virtual disk will be created for each hard drive.

Make your selections and click “Next”.

  • At the next screen you will be asked to select which format you want the virtual copy to be in:

As already mentioned, Paragon Go Virtual supports VMware, Microsoft Virtual PC, and VirtualBox virtual disk formats. However, Virtual PC virtual disk (.vhd format) are limited to a max size of 127.4 GB. So, if the hard drives/partitions you selected to virtualize are larger than 127.4 GB you will not be able to create a Virtual PC format virtual disk. The format you select will determine what program you will use to run the virtualized copy of your computer (i.e. if you select “Oracle VirtualBox”, you will need to download VirtualBox to run the virtual copy you are creating); however I know for sure VirtualBox is able to run VMware and Virtual PC format disks and I believe VMware can do the same thing (not 100% sure though). My personal suggestion would be to use VirtualBox format since that is freeware software available to everyone, unless you have a specific reason to use any of the other two formats.

Once you select the format, click “Next”.

  • At the next screen you will need to define the settings for the virtual machine you will create:

You can name the virtual machine whatever you want – the name is not very important. What is important is the “CPU number” and “Memory amount”. Similar to how your physical computer uses CPU and RAM when running, the virtual machine you create will do the same thing. So, you need to define how many CPUs (most of us will only have one CPU) and how much RAM you are willing to allow the virtual machine to use while it runs. The more CPUs/RAM you give the virtual machine, the better it will perform; however the more you give to the virtual machine the less your physical machine will have and the worse the physical machine will run while the virtual machine is running.

When setting the amount of CPUs/RAM keep in mind the computers you want to run the virtual machine on. For example, if you virtualize Windows 7, give it 1024 MB RAM, and then try to run the virtual machine on a Windows XP computer that only has 256 MB RAM… you will be SOL (short on luck).

Paragon Go Virtual automatically calculates the recommended amounts for both CPU and memory based on the OS you are virtualizing. Unless you know what you are doing and/or have a specific reason to do otherwise, leave it as is.

Click “Next” when done.

  • At the next screen you will be given a list of how many virtual disks will be created and what interface they will be set as:

Again, Paragon Go Virtual sets the interface automatically to what it thinks is best, so leave it as-is unless you know what you are doing. (If you change the interface to BusLogic, at the next screen you will be asked to inject drivers for that interface format via .ISO or .FLP images; if you leave it at what Paragon automatically set it to, you won’t need to inject any drivers.)

By default Paragon Go Virtual will create the virtual disk(s) as the exact same size as your physical hard drive(s). If you would like for your virtual disk(s) to be larger than the size of your physical hard drive(s) clicking on the preferences button (located to the right of the “Interface” column) allows you to resize the size of the virtual disk:

If you do make the virtual disk larger than the physical disk, you have the option to have Paragon Go Virtual automatically proportionally resize the partitions for you. If you are creating VMware format virtual disk, you will have the option to automatically split the size of the virtual disk and to pre-allocate disk space as opposed to making it dynamic (VMware ESX does not support pre-allocation option and VirtualBox disks are automatically dynamic).

Click “Next” after you are done with these settings.

  • After you click “Next”, Paragon Go Virtual will start to create the virtual copy of your computer:

Depending on how large the virtual disk is to be, and how much data needs to be copied, the creation of the virtual copy of your computer can take some time. However, the process is not too taxing on your computer, so you should be able to utilize your computer while the virtual copy is being made.

After the virtual disk has been created, you will be told so:

  • Once your virtual disk has been created, you are done! All you need to do is download and install the proper software (VMware, Microsoft Virtual PC, or VirtualBox) and use it to run the virtual machine. (Again refer to Locutus’ part one post on virtual machines for assistance in using VirtualBox if you need it.) Keep in mind since the virtual disk is a file, you can put it on portable media, external hard drive, CD/DVD, etc. and run the virtual machine on almost any computer; in other words your computer is now portable (sort of).

Now, Paragon Go Virtual may offer some fancy functionality, but the real question is why would one want to virtualize their computer? Paragon Software gives you four reasons why:

Scenario 1: Continue using your old PC’s applications – enjoy your favorite applications in a virtual environment on your new computer

When it’s time to upgrade to a new PC and operating system, you may find that some of your favorite applications haven’t been updated yet to work with it. Using Paragon Go Virtual, you can make a virtual clone of your old system before migrating to a new computer. Take advantage of an up-to-date powerful computer while still having access to favorite applications from the old computer.

If your old computer is corrupted but you have a backup image of your old system made with Paragon software – you can virtualize it using Paragon Go Virtual installed on your new PC.

Scenario 2: Safely evaluate new software

New software can be unintentionally harmful to your computer. Avoid negative system conflicts by creating a virtual clone of your current physical system using Paragon’s Go Virtual. Try new software in a safe environment and decide whether it works and is exactly what you need before making it a permanent addition to your collection. If the changes made on the virtual machine were successful, you can migrate your updated system from the virtual environment to your PC.

Scenario 3: Put your PC in your pocket, use it anywhere and anytime

It is very convenient and handy to use your favorite software with all data at any computer. Now it became possible with wide implementation of virtual environments. All that you want to do is migrate your system into a virtual machine, place it on any removable media and run this machine at any computer, which has virtualization software installed. Just obtain an external USB hard drive and use it as storage for your virtual environment – your computer is in your pocket.

Scenario 4: Combining Windows and Mac

All Apple solutions are very interesting and popular. But what if the Windows solution you have to work with does not have an analogue in the Mac world? Today you may not bother regarding the search of the compatible software; you may just run your favorite Windows-native programs on Mac’s inside of the virtual environment. Use Paragon Go Virtual to create a virtual machine with all software and data, then copy it to your Mac and run inside VMware Fusion (or other virtualization software).

So, are you convinced yet? If so, go virtualize your computer now! And share your experience with us in the comments below. If not, feel free to tell us why not in the comments below.

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39 comments

  1. Chris

    Hi, do you know if Paragon Go Virtual is not longer provided? When trying to register it sends me to a page for Paragon Virtualization manager, thus I can’t register, and can’t get a serial key – so can’t use Go Virtual :(

  2. Ruchir

    I have 4Gb DDR-2 8xx Mhz RAM and run Windows 7 64 bit and system is very fast.64 bit is way faster and I had to do since I had 4 GB.Tremendous but when I open Workstation 8 and open 1 virtual machine it takes around 500 Mb and when two simultaneously sometimes hangs.Bottom-line is XP Sp3 needs 1 Gb for normal functioning and VBox etc are very RAM hungry.If you even dream to run VMs,you need at least 1 GB more.Because even if programs etc are not installed on main OS,when you install,copy paste to from main VM,install an IS or AV there,create snapshots.revert etc which are not in free version but even for normal usage,it dynamically changes according to work done,if net used through NAT,apps there will update etc,malware there etc.
    So.most resource hungry app prob virtualization ones.If you want Win 7 on Xp,even 2 GB will be a dead dodo.
    Paragon -GV had a problem that almost a newly installed Win 7,the app says will take 11 hrs and no pause button,it maybe in Pro version.With Win 7,I don’t know but Xp users may benefit.I am sure paid VMWare WS which has what not converters inbuilt will do the same job with efficiency and a truer copy.
    WS is WS,it even plays Ghost,Acronis,etc formats.

  3. Torymon

    Download link (32 bit) doesn’t seem to work… gonna try Google, can’t find it on the Paragon Site!
    64 Bit and Register links are fine, just the 32 bit… bummer! I’ll try the 64 bit and the Google search
    but… Cnet gives me a “404 Page Not Found” error and a list of possible alternatives.

  4. antruth

    I’d be keen to give this app a try – if I had a clearer idea of what it did.

    If you want to popularise your product you really have to make its function more comprehensible to non-technical users. I don’t know whether to use this or not – currently I’m using Easeus and struggle with that because its wrtten for teccies and not the average user.

  5. Rani

    @ttfitz: Thanks for that, man. I virtualized 2 laptops with XP Pro installations and neither would load on the host computer with VirtualBox. Enabling I/O APIC worked!
    After this, however, I also encounter the activation “problem”. Presumably because it detects some hardware changes somehow? (to do with the new host).
    So, unless I activate each virtual installation I cannot log on.
    I wonder if there is an easy way. I also presume there must be restrictions on licensing issues to do with those installations that may prohibit this, unless you get a full-fledged activation code.

  6. ttfitz

    This is an old post, I know, but since I found it while looking for some virtualization information, I figured I would give some tips on my experience with this.

    I used this program to make a copy of my son’s desktop machine with Vista to put on his new laptop so he would have access to the programs and data on it while he was away at college. All of this refers to using on VirtualBox.

    First, if you select the VirtualBox format, be aware it doesn’t actually create a VirtualBox format (VDI file), but it creates a VMWare file (VMDK). VirtualBox will run it, but just be aware.

    When I tried running this image on VirtualBox, it would hang before it got to the Windows load screen. After a lot of messing around, web searches, and other such things, I found two things that got me running.

    First, under the settings “System” tab, I enabled IO APIC. Don’t know how necessary this is, but I found it on a webpage where someone else was having similar problems.

    Second, if you follow the advice in this article, and take the default interface for the drive, this will set up the drive as an IDE drive. But on my system the hard drive is a SATA drive, and I’m assuming this is the reason that VirtualBox attached it to the SATA interface. These two things conflict, and I don’t think it can find the virtual hard drive when it starts. You either need to change the default interface when creating the virtual drive with Go Virtual, or you need to change the settings on the Storage page in VirtualBox to put the hard drive under the IDE controller – either one works. I felt like the IDE version ran faster, but it could be my imagination.

    Right now the only problem I’m left with is with Windows activation; I guess because of the changes in the virtual environment, it doesn’t see this as a genuine Windows install. Don’t know what I’m gonna do with that.

    Tim

  7. zugshad

    Has anyone had issues with this making a 64bit copy?
     
    I finally got my 1tb portable in and was going to put it on there.. I created a P2V copy with this on my win7 64bit pc…i have virtualbox installed on there as well.. I opened up the virtualbox and had it find my virtual copy I made for the harddisk… then I had to create the new machine to run it..
    When I start the machine and try to boot to windows 7, it fails to load.. i get an error message to load my win7 cd to repair etc.. and the error message at the bottom basically says that I am trying to use a 64bit system on a non 64bit processor… even though I am testing it on the same PC I created it on..
    So, leaves me with 2 things.. 1.. Any ideas why/how to fix
    2. Will this mean that if i do make the 64bit copy and use it on virtual box (and get it to work) on a friends PC that is not a64bit processor will this not be able to work?
     
    Any solutions or ideas how I can get this working?
    Thanks
    Zug

  8. ams

    @zugshad: I wouldn’t mix these two options. P2V adjust OS is designed to adjust existing virtual drives to new environment. And P2V Copy wizard allows you creating same vhd, vmdk or vdi from scratch (from physical drive of course) and for specific machine. And you can select which machine the disk is going to be created for.

  9. ams

    @Darthyoda: Did you contact their support? It is possible that something went wrong cause nobody promises absolutely failure-clear tool (even Windows has them more than billion =))).
    But normally techies from Paragon did provide solutions and they most probably would do.

  10. Alex

    @amozai: Yes, you should copy both files. Click ‘Import Virtual Machine’ in Virtualbox and select this G.ovf file. VirtualBox will import virtual disk to your virtual machines storage (can be changed in VirtualBox settings). Then virtual machine can be started.

  11. amozai

    Thanks a lot Ashraf, I followed all the steps and I succeeded but I’m yet to download the oracle virtual machine. In the drive there are two files, G.ovf OVF file 4 KB and vdisk0.vmdk VMDK file, and I want to copy the vdisk on removable drive, my question is should I copy both files? Thank you in advance to anyone who answers my question.
     
    regards,

  12. zugshad

    @Ashraf or any others that know:
     
    I used this to create the vitrual copy using the P2V copy.. but then i was messing around and checking some things out in t and noticed the P2V adjust OS and that it can take your windows inmage (the .vhd) and make adjustments to it so it too would be bootable from the usb.. would this be basically the same thing as doing the P2V copy? Is either better?  wondering if i should delete the one i just made and then just adjust my .vhd with it… are there benefits that make either one a better choice?
     
    What are your thoughts…
    Thanks
    Zug

  13. Jeanjean

    @Ashraf
    Thanks anyway.
    It’s not so important for me.
    I know the procedure now and can eventually share it, if someone needs it.
    At the first occasion, i will try with a PC with more RAM to see if this is the origin of the problem or not.

  14. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @PeterPan: Yeah, if you only have 20 GB left on your HDD and you are using 80 GB, you won’t be able to place the virtual disk on the C:/ drive. However, you can still create a virtual disk… you will just need to place the virtual disk elsewhere. So, if you have an external hard drive, connect it and select the external hard drive when you are asked where you want to place the virtual disk.

    @Darthyoda: Yeah it is. And thanks for the feedback; I am glad you got it working in the end.

    @rich: Yes you can run the same OS on top of each other, and yes if you want to use the virtual copy as a “test center” for future patches, you will be able to do that.

    @Jeanjean and @Jeanjean: Oh, I think I see what you mean. Nonetheless VirtualBox should run with just 512 MB of RAM just fine; your installation may be corrupted. Did you try to reinstall the program? (Use RevoUninstaller to uninstall first). And yes you can run XP on XP.

    @meanpt: I have not run into the problem you are referring to so I can’t help you. Sorry. Maybe someone else knows better than me about this issue.

    @Darthyoda: Yep.

  15. meanpt

    In the past I downloaded some paragon application reviewed here that produced a virtual copy of my Vista disk and when tryed to run it in vbox I was told it could not run in “that” (despite virtual) machine cause it was not the machine the OS was licensed for. Has that been solved with this application?

  16. Jeanjean

    I read myself again and I find that I am perhaps not yet clear in my explanations.
    It was suggested (including on the site of VirtualBox) that 512Mb RAM will be enough to run XP. My experience seems to prove that this is not true.
    Therefor, I was saying one needed at least one PC with 2 Gb RAM (1024Mb for the virtual machine and the same for the host OS) to run properly a virtual machine!

  17. Jeanjean

    @ Ashraf
    As I said, I have only 1 Gb of RAM.
    I’ve tried to give the half in VirtualBox to run Windows XP or Ubuntu, but  the launch stops after a moment.
    I suppose thus that 512Mb is not enough and that you must give at least 1024 Mb RAM + as much for the host OS.

    On the other hand, I have the same question as RICH: Can we run XP in XP for example ?

    Thank you for your answers.

  18. rich

    I have a question:
    Can I run a copy of (for example) Windows Vista on top of another copy of the same operating system?

    Let me explain my reason:  I recently experienced a very HARD operating system failure.  It was caused by a malfunction in a patch.  In other words, when MS was updating the operating system, somehow the “X:” drive temporary files were not erased as should have occurred, and the operating system was perpetually hijacked every time it tried to boot.

    I went to DOS and changed all references to “X:” in the registry to “C:” (and trust me – there were many), but to no avail.  In the end I had to do a clean install of the operating system, and any other software of course had to be reinstalled. (By the way, I did try to make use of “Restore Points” but that was before the registry entry effort.)

    If I install one copy of the operating system on top of another, can I expect to protect myself from the above sort of debacle in future using such an approach.  [I would want to update one copy of the operating system, while leaving the other intact, until success of any update was verified.]

    Thank you.

  19. Darthyoda

    This looks like a lite version of Virtualization Manger that was given away before.  http://www.paragon-software.com/home/go-virtual/comparison.html
    And from today’s tweet:
    ParagonSoftware

    Paragon Go Virtual was reviewed at PC Authority Downloads: http://bit.ly/9zn4JX via @addthis
    My experience was I tried using the Virtualization Manager 9.5 to create a Vmware virtual machine & then a Microsoft vritual hd, neither which worked ’cause when I went to boot up the virtual machine in vmware, I kept getting the blue screen of death.  So I decided I’d try the disk2vhd, which has a feature to change the hal to work with the virtual machine that Paragon doesn’t have.  Then I installed Virtual Box & the virtual image works fine.  I needed a virtual copy because I had some stuff on my old xp laptop that I couldn’t get to work in 7 on my new laptop, so I went this root & now I’ve got my old computer & new.

  20. PeterPan

    Thanks for your review! I now understand better the concept of virtualization.
    At the present, my C drive has a 100 Gb capacity. Most of the space (about 80 Gb) is already taken with software. 

    Am I correct thinking that it would be impossible for me to create a virtual disk on my system?  How can I copy 80 Gb of data while I have only 20 Gb left on my C drive?

    Thanks for any clarification.
    Peter

  21. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Jeanjean: I am sorry but I don’t understand your problem; as far as I know there is no 2 GB of RAM requirement to use VirtualBox. This is off VirtualBox’s website:

    Memory. Depending on what guest operating systems you want to run, you will need at least 512 MB of RAM (but probably more, and the more the better). Basically, you will need whatever your host operating system needs to run comfortably, plus the amount that the guest operating system needs. So, if you want to run Windows XP on Windows XP, you probably won’t enjoy the experience much with less than 1 GB of RAM. If you want to try out Windows Vista in a guest, it will refuse to install if it is given less than 512 MB RAM, so you’ll need that for the guest alone, plus the memory your operating system normally needs.

    And I stated in my article

    The more CPUs/RAM you give the virtual machine, the better it will perform; however the more you give to the virtual machine the less your physical machine will have and the worse the physical machine will run while the virtual machine is running.

    When setting the amount of CPUs/RAM keep in mind the computers you want to run the virtual machine on. For example, if you virtualize Windows 7, give it 1024 MB RAM, and then try to run the virtual machine on a Windows XP computer that only has 256 MB RAM… you will be SOL (short on luck).

    Did you set the virtual machine to have 1 GB of RAM? That could be your problem.

  22. Jeanjean

    Hi,

    I just tried to virtualize my current OS (XP) and Ubuntu with different software (Paragon Virtualization Manager, Disk2vhd) that I found in your reviews and those of Locutus .
    Everything went normally except that once created, it was impossible to run the virtual machines in VirtualBox.
    The reason? I have one Gb of RAM and the “host” PC must at least have 2!
    It seems to me that it’s the only thing that your reviews don’t stress enough. Am I wrong ?