Registering a virtual machine with Hyper-V in Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012

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When you import a virtual machine into Hyper-V with Windows Server 2012 / Windows 8 – you now have three options:  Register, restore and copy:


Restore and copy were available in previous versions of Hyper-V – but register is a new option.  Let me quickly step you through what each of these options do:

  • Register
    • If you have a virtual machine were you have already put all of the virtual machine files exactly where you want them, and you just need Hyper-V to start using the virtual machine where it is – this is the option you want to choose.
  • Restore
    • If your virtual machine files are stored on a file share / removable drive / etc… and you want Hyper-V to move the files to the appropriate location for you, and then register the virtual machine – this is the option for you.
  • Copy
    • If you have a set of virtual machine files that you want to import multiple times (e.g. you are using them as a template for new virtual machines) this is what you want to choose.  This will copy the files to an appropriate location, give the virtual machine a new unique ID, and then register the virtual machine.


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  • How about having those explanations in the GUI itself?

  • The Delete option in Hyper-V Manager deletes the configuration for the selected virtual machine.

    How about having a NEW option of Removing a VM from the Hyper-V Manager and not deleting the configuration files of the VM?

    (Option available in VirtualBox)

  • I recently upgraded my test Windows 2008 R2 Machine to Windows Server 2012 RC. Now i added another Windows Server 2012 RC to manage from Server Manager which has a Hyper V role installed with few test VM.

    But i am unable to open Hyper V Manager of the remote server. I am getting error "WinRM Negotiate Authentication Error" . I can RDP , but option to Add Roles , Restart Server are grayed out.  I dont see option for Hyper V Manager for the remote server

    Any clue , what could be the issue ?

  • @Aamod Potdar

    Permissions issue of some sort perhaps?  from your second server (let's call it server2) are you able to browse the administrative shares of the first server (server1)?  That is, on server2 can you browse to \\server1\c$ ?  On an out-of-the-box Windows server you need to be an admin to do that.  If that doesn't work then that probably explains why you can't add/remove roles, etc.

    @Luciano Buffoni

    SQL Server refers to this as detach.  Useful thing to have.


    Probably issues with having text translated into other languages in time for release.  Updating MSDN / Technet is a lot easier than updating a shipped GUI.  The meaining is fairly clear as is but perhaps an Ikea-style icon next to each one would help.  Something that looks like it's taking files from one folder to another with either a green + on the target (copy), a red cross on the source (move) or just a single folder with an unannotated arrow leaving and pointing back to iself (register in place).  

    I do agree that in isolation each option is difficult to comprehend.  The word "Restore" doesn't imply, on first reading, to indicate that it's going to MOVE the data.  Even in context with the others it still doesn't really read that way...

  • Nori -

    It is actually not as simple as that, unfortunately.  A number of usability studies has shown that the more text you put on the page, the less likely it is that people will actually read the text.  With GUI text your goal really is to give people just enough information that they will be able to read it and make the right decision given what they are wanting to do.

    Luciano Buffoni -

    I completely agree, deleting a virtual machine is something that we need to make better in the future.

    Aamod Potdar -

    It sounds like WinRM is not working for some reason, and I am afraid that that is outside my area of expertise.



  • Can you confirm, that when using the 'Register' option, I no longer have to go through and export all my VMs. Can I just import a VM that was working in the previous version?


  • Hello,

    Last question from Tom was very relevant.

    Can we now register VMs without first exporting them ?

    Thanks !

  • Great post, concise and straight to the point.

  • The error Restore gives when used makes it useless as a simple recovery mechanism for a importing an earlier exported copy of the VM.

    I did an Export of my VM before testing installation of a product that I knew I did not really want to keep, with the full intention of just doing an Import afterwards to restore the VM to its original state. I thought the ability to try stuff on a VM knowing that you can then wind it back to an earlier state is touted as being an advantage of using a VM.

    But when using the Restore option it gives the error: "The operation failed because a virtual machine with the same identifier already exists." Duh. I know. That's whey I'm "Restoring" it.

    The only work-a-round for this I've seen is to first delete the VM from Hyper-V and then use Copy which unfortunately then creates a whole new ID. So what's the point of Restore if it never works in the scenario people would expect it to (ie. it literally stops you from restoring a VM back to an earlier export)?

  • I'd like to add that Restore should give an error if the VM ID is NOT the same.

    That would make sense since it would protect against overwriting a completely different VM.

    But to instead throw an error when they ARE the same VM ID defeats the purpose of having a "Restore" option.

  • Ian Hinson,

    You really need to check out Snapshots at your earliest opportunity

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Registering a virtual machine with Hyper-V in Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012