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Can Someone help Me find a free solution to make a vhd of my current windows 10 machine so i have a backup

im thinking about going to linux but i would like to use windows for gaming on origins and some steam games i use that my not work on linux even with lutris or any other solution like lutris but i don’t want to have to do a total reinstall of windows, is there a free solution to make a vhd of my windows or some other solution that wont kill my hdd space?

Welcome to the forum.

Before you do anything back up your important data. Put it somewhere safe. Once done, do it again, and put the second copy somewhere even safer. Note all these options need you to either buy more hardware or use up disk space. It may be easiest to just dual boot.

Next, let’s check you have hardware that supports virtualization. If you have a laptop this won’t work easily. If you have a modern desktop then check your bios settings allow virtualieation. There are multiple guides for Windows virtualization on the forum, just scroll down.

Next you will want a Linux distro. If you are new to Linux try Mint or Ubuntu. If you are a little more confident you can try something else. Let’s assume you use a Debian based distro like Ubuntu. Download it and install to a USB pen drive.

Option 1: Safe route.

Buy a new hard drive or SSD. Install Ubuntu on to that. Set as primary boot device. Set up KVM and create a new windows VM. Attach your second HDD as the location of the image for the virtuak drive. You will be able to access windows. If you want to play games you will need to set up pass through for your graphics card. This is hard but there are good guides on here (search for greywolf).

A modification of this is to create a new virtual disk and install windows from scratch on that. Set up origin on there. Your original windows disk is not used at all. Makes things very safe.

Option 2: Still safe but will eat disk space

Run the pen drive on your PC and boot into Ubuntu. Don’t install it yet, just run the live image version. If you are happy with Ubuntu as your Linux distro, install it without wiping the drive so you can dual boot. It will install grub. This will take some disk space but not much. It keeps windows exactly as you left it. Some PC’s have issues with safeboot and grub so you may need to disable it in the bios.

Option 3: hard, dangerous, may not work, may destroy your data.

Before you start you will need a separate disk to store your image file whilst you create your virtualized one. This could be a usb hard drive.

This is a combination of options one and two. Step 1 runs Ubuntu as a live disk. Once running you need to open the gnome disk utility (called disks in the menu). If not there then install from the software center. Once you are in the disk utility. Plug in your external HDD, it will appear alongside your internal drive. Select your internal drive then click the hamburger buttons in the top right corner. Select the menu ‘create disk image’. Save the image file to your external drive. You now have a complete copy of your windows drive.

Now run the Ubuntu installer but this time wipe your disk. Run KVM as per option 1. Attach your disk image as the image for Windows. You will need to do this from the external drive. If you want it internally you will need a second HDD internally. It has to be at least as big as your original disk. So not worth doing as option 1 is the same thing.

Note performance will be poor running from a disk image on a usb device and this mode can be unreliable. Use with caution.

Other disk image generator tools are available, I’ve just described the one I use. Overall I would not recommend doing any of these except option 1 if you have extra disks. Given windows 10 is funny about having full access to the disk, it may be easiest to leave your existing windows partition alone and create your virtual machine from scratch.

Hopefully makes sense but I’m sure others will correct my waffle.

Yeah, the Windows System Image backup tool produces VHD files. It is a Windows 7 tool and is a bit hidden in Windows 10 but still works. I think you need a Pro version to save images to network shares but a second or external hard drive should be fine on Home.

Edit: Yes this requires a second hard drive big enough to store a copy of everything. You should already have one. You keep backups, right? Right???

Microsoft has an official too. Google this: disk2vhd

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Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and thanks for the suggestions , I was able to create a vhd of my current windows 10 installation, but I was thinking running Linux as a primary OS and run my copy of my windows installation a vm but i also wanna have gpu passthrough for my windows machine but i have one gpu and what linux distro would good for this and what would i need for single gpu passthrough? P.S. I only use my windows installation as gaming/streaming build, my current rig specs is a AMD Ryzen 3700x 3.9Ghz and Ballistix Sport LT 16GB DDR4 3200 , and 240gb SSD and 2TB WD HDD , XFX AMD RADEON RX580 8Gb Vram. P.S.S I also have a 4tb external HDD

I personally wouldn’t bother with virtualization for gaming/streaming. Just reboot into windows ideally in a separate ssd to play games. I think that is ideal.

Can’t be done with the card you have. You would need an enterprise card with sr-iov. The explanation is long and dull but in summary the device gets linked to the running OS when you boot. You can’t unlink it whilst using it.

As @kush says, just install your Linux partition and setup dual boot. You can then just reboot to swap between windows and Linux. This method had worked for decades and is reliable.

If you want to do your approach you need s second graphics card then edit the init file to do pcie passthrough with the second card. It is non-trivial and there are threads on here that describe the many steps.

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Thanks welp i guess the idea is a bus welp dual booting it is what distro would guys recomend for someone is just starting with linux?

@sgtawesomesauce has a thread with quick reviews on a lot of the common distros, I suggest looking through it to see what sounds closest to what you want to try.

Also expect a ton of different distros in response to that question. What some people love about certain distros others hate, and vice versa. I think one of the last times I saw somebody ask what a good beginner distro is and they got like ten different distros recommended.

thanks for responding the way i use my desktop is more everyday web browsing plus listening to Music , watch youtube and mostly playing games so i would like a distro that would cater to that while also making my windows vm as seamless as possible i remember linus doing something similar in one of his videos but i don’t know what distro he used to make it happen.

Personally I think it will be easier if you just dual boot. As for what district, I like fedora but Debian stable is probably the best option.