Create and upload a Windows Server VHD to Azure
A virtual machine in Microsoft Azure runs the operating system that you choose when you create the virtual machine. Microsoft Azure stores a virtual machine's operating system in a virtual hard disk in VHD format (a .vhd file). A VHD of an operating system that has been prepared for duplication is called an image. This article shows you how to create your own image by uploading a .vhd file with an operating system you've installed and generalized. For more information about disks and images in Microsoft Azure, see Manage Disks and Images.
Note: When you create a virtual machine, you can customize the operating system settings to facilitate running your application. The configuration that you set is stored on disk for that virtual machine. For instructions, see How to Create a Custom Virtual Machine.
This article assumes that you have the following items:
An Azure subscription - If you don't have one, you can create a free trial account in just a couple of minutes. For details, see Create an Azure account.
Microsoft Azure PowerShell - You have the Microsoft Azure PowerShell module installed. To download the module, see Microsoft Azure Downloads. A tutorial to install and configure PowerShell with your Azure Subscription can be found here.
- The Add-AzureVHD cmdlet, which is part of the Microsoft Azure PowerShell module. You'll use this cmdlet to upload the VHD.
A supported Windows operating system stored in a .vhd file - You have installed a supported Windows Server operating system to a virtual hard disk. Multiple tools exist to create .vhd files. You can use a virtualization solutions such as Hyper-V to create the .vhd file and install the operating system. For instructions, see Install the Hyper-V Role and Configure a Virtual Machine.
Important: The VHDX format is not supported in Microsoft Azure. You can convert the disk to VHD format using Hyper-V Manager or the Convert-VHD cmdlet. A tutorial on this can be found here.
Window Server operating system media. This task requires an .iso file that contains the Windows Server operating system. The following Windows Server versions are supported:
|OS ||SKU ||Service Pack ||Architecture |
|Windows Server 2012 R2 ||All editions ||N/A ||x64 |
|Windows Server 2012 ||All editions ||N/A ||x64 |
|Windows Server 2008 R2 ||All editions ||SP1 ||x64 |
This task includes the following steps:
Step 1: Prepare the image to be uploaded
Before the image can be uploaded to Azure, it must be generalized by using the Sysprep command. For more information about using Sysprep, see How to Use Sysprep: An Introduction.
In the virtual machine that you just created, complete the following procedure:
Log in to the operating system.
Open a Command Prompt window as an administrator. Change the directory to %windir%\system32\sysprep, and then run
The System Preparation Tool dialog box appears.
In the System Preparation Tool, select Enter System Out of Box Experience (OOBE) and make sure that Generalize is checked.
In Shutdown Options, select Shutdown.
Step 2: Create a storage account in Azure
A storage account represents the highest level of the namespace for accessing the storage services and is associated with your Azure subscription. You need a storage account in Azure to upload a .vhd file to Azure that can be used for creating a virtual machine. You can use the Azure Management Portal to create a storage account.
Sign in to the Azure Management Portal.
On the command bar, click New.
Click Storage Account, and then click Quick Create.
Fill out the fields as follows:
Under URL, type a subdomain name to use in the URL for the storage account. The entry can contain from 3-24 lowercase letters and numbers. This name becomes the host name within the URL that is used to address Blob, Queue, or Table resources for the subscription.
Choose the location or affinity group for the storage account. By specifying an affinity group, you can co-locate your cloud services in the same data center with your storage.
Decide whether to use geo-replication for the storage account. Geo-replication is turned on by default. This option replicates your data to a secondary location, at no cost to you, so that your storage fails over to a secondary location if a major failure occurs that can't be handled in the primary location. The secondary location is assigned automatically, and can't be changed. If legal requirements or organizational policy requires tighter control over the location of your cloud-based storage, you can turn off geo-replication. However, be aware that if you later turn on geo-replication, you will be charged a one-time data transfer fee to replicate your existing data to the secondary location. Storage services without geo-replication are offered at a discount. More details on managing geo-replication of Storage accounts can be found here: How To Manage Storage Accounts.
Click Create Storage Account.
The account now appears under Storage Accounts.
Next, create a container for your uploaded VHDs. Click on the Storage account name and then click on Containers.
Click Create a Container.
Type a Name for your container and select the Access Policy.
By default, the container is private and can be accessed only by the account owner. To allow public read access to the blobs in the container, but not the container properties and metadata, use the "Public Blob" option. To allow full public read access for the container and blobs, use the "Public Container" option.
Step 3: Prepare the connection to Microsoft Azure
Before you can upload a .vhd file, you need to establish a secure connection between your computer and your subscription in Microsoft Azure. You can use the Microsoft Azure Active Directory or the certificate method for doing this.
Use the Microsoft Azure AD method
Open the Microsoft Azure PowerShell console, as instructed in How to: Install Microsoft Azure PowerShell.
Type the following command:
Add-AzureAccount. A window opens up where you can sign into Azure with your Microsoft account.
Microsoft Azure authenticates and saves the credential information, and then closes the window.
Use the certificate method
Open a Microsoft Azure PowerShell window.
A browser window opens and prompts you to download a .publishsettings file. It contains information and a certificate for your Microsoft Azure subscription.
Save the .publishsettings file.
<PathToFile> is the full path to the .publishsettings file.
For more information, see Get Started with Microsoft Azure Cmdlets
For more information on installing and configuring PowerShell, see How to install and configure Microsoft Azure PowerShell
Step 4: Upload the .vhd file
When you upload the .vhd file, you can place the .vhd file anywhere within your blob storage. In the following command examples, BlobStorageURL is the URL for the storage account that you created in Step 2, YourImagesFolder is the container within blob storage where you want to store your images. VHDName is the label that appears in the Management Portal to identify the virtual hard disk. PathToVHDFile is the full path and name of the .vhd file.
From the Microsoft Azure PowerShell window you used in the previous step, type:
Add-AzureVhd -Destination "<BlobStorageURL>/<YourImagesFolder>/<VHDName>.vhd" -LocalFilePath <PathToVHDFile>
For more information about the Add-AzureVhd cmdlet, see Add-AzureVhd.
Add the Image to Your List of Custom Images
After you upload the .vhd, you add it as an image to the list of custom images associated with your subscription.
From the Management Portal, under All Items, click Virtual Machines.
Under Virtual Machines, click Images.
And then click Create an Image.
In Create an image from a VHD, do the following:
- Specify name
- Specify description
- To specify the URL of your VHD click the folder button to launch the below dialog box
- Select the storage account your VHD is in and click Open. This returns you to the Create an image from a VHD window. - After you return to the Create an image from a VHD window, select the Operating System Family. - Check I have run Sysprep on the virtual machine associated with this VHD to acknowledge that you generalized the operating system in Step 1, and then click OK.
OPTIONAL : You can also use Azure PowerShell's Add-AzureVMImage cmdlet to add your VHD as an image.
From the Microsoft Azure PowerShell window, type:
Add-AzureVMImage -ImageName <Your Image's Name> -MediaLocation <location of the VHD> -OS <Type of the OS on the VHD>
After you complete the previous steps, the new image is listed when you choose the Images tab.
When you create a new virtual machine, you can now use this new image. Choose My Images to show the new image. For instructions, see Create a Virtual Machine Running Windows Server.
After creating a virtual machine, trying creating a SQL Server Virtual Machine. For instructions, see Provisioning a SQL Server Virtual Machine on Microsoft Azure.