Creating and Uploading a Virtual Hard Disk that Contains the Windows Server Operating System
A virtual machine in Azure runs the operating system that you choose when you create the virtual machine. 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 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:
A management certificate - You have created a management certificate for the subscription for which you want to upload a VHD, and exported the certificate to a .cer file. For more information about creating certificates, see Create a Management Certificate for Azure.
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 newer VHDX format is not supported in Azure. You can convert the disk to VHD format using Hyper-V Manager or the convert-vhd cmdlet.
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 ||All editions ||N/A ||x64 |
|Windows Server 2008 R2 ||All editions ||SP1 ||x64 |
The Add-AzureVHD cmdlet, which is part of the Azure PowerShell module. To download the module, see Azure Downloads.
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 System Cleanup Action, 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.
Click Create Storage Account.
The account now appears under Storage Accounts.
Step 3: Prepare the connection to Azure
Before you can upload a .vhd file, you need to establish a secure connection between your computer and your subscription in Azure.
Open an Azure PowerShell window.
This command opens a browser window and automatically downloads a .publishsettings file that contains information and a certificate for your Azure subscription.
Save the .publishsettings file.
<PathToFile> is the full path to the .publishsettings file.
For more information, see Get Started with Azure Cmdlets
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 Azure PowerShell window you used in the previous step, type:
Add-AzureVhd -Destination <BlobStorageURL>/<YourImagesFolder>/<VHDName> -LocalFilePath <PathToVHDFile>
For more information, 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.
In Create an image from a VHD, specify a name and the URL to the .vhd that you uploaded.
Check I have run Sysprep on the virtual machine associated with this VHD to acknowledge that you generalized the operating system in Step 2, and then click OK.
After the image is available in your list, you can use it to create virtual machines. For instructions, see Create a Virtual Machine Running Windows Server.