The connection between partition imaging (creating a copy of your partition to one large file) and virtualization (virtual PCs running inside a window) is an interesting one. When vendors realized that the large files used by virtual machine hosts such as VirtualBox and VMware Workstation were basically image files, it became apparent that you could have your backup--and run it to. Paragon's Virtualization Manager 12 takes full advantage of this symbiotic relationship by imaging partitions to files that are ready to run in the VM software of your choice.
Virtualization Manager 12 has several options. It can back up your operating system partition to the formats used by both the virtual machines mentioned above, as well as Virtual PC 7 on the Mac. This allows you to run them on any Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux machine PC using VM software. What's more, it can convert virtual machines back into hardware installations--including hardware that's different from the PC the image or VM was created from.
I tested Virtualization Manager 12 by creating a VM for VMware Player from my main Windows 7 Ultimate installation. It worked quickly, but didn't impact overall system performance seemingly at all, giving credence to Paragon's claim of a new, faster imaging engine. The resulting VM functioned perfectly. Note that that once you start using a VM you start changing it (a bad idea if it's a backup), though you can snapshot it and restore it depending on the VM software you use.
Probably my favorite feature of Virtualization Manager 12 is that it can take a Windows image backup (which is in Virtual PC .vhd format) and alter it so you can actually boot from it. This can be handy if you want to grab a few files you forgot to save when you reinstalled Windows.
One thing I did not like is that Virtualization Manager 12 doesn't mount VMs or images as virtual hard drives. I'm used to a program such as R-Drive Image or True Image that mounts the image, gives it a drive letter, and lets you pull files off using Windows Explorer. Virtualization Manager 12 simply mounts the image for its own use during partition operations. You use the program's dedicated file restore wizard for pulling files off.
Virtualization Manager 12 is really just imaging software. But it's very good imaging software and infinitely handy for those who run or manage virtual machines. You should also check out Paragon's $100 Hard Disk Manager 12 Professional, which has the same capabilities plus advanced partitioning and other drive manipulation features.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
This story, "Paragon Virtualization Manager 12 Professional handles virtual machines and more" was originally published by PCWorld.