Can VMWare Player Run a Physical Hard Drive/Raw Partition?

Pr3tty F1y

Active member
My 80 year old uncle's girlfriend bought him a new PC.

It was a nice gesture (it's one of those touchscreen AiO thingies), but while it's better than his old PC in some respects, it's worse than his old PC in others. in particular, it has a 5400rpm hdd... ugh.

I've copied his files over from his old PC, but his computer skills are slightly below par and he now tells me by phone that some of his digital camera pictures and music are missing.

To remedy this situation, I bought him a SSD and HDD dock and plan to install these as a gift. The SSD will undoubtedly unbottleneck the system, but even if I do find his missing files (I'm guessing they're not missing... just misplaced - by him), I want to leave his old 7200rpm 3.5" HDD from the previous PC in a HDD dock and I would like to give him access to his old Windows 7 environment by using VMWare Player or the like to allow him to see his previous desktop experience as it was.

Does anyone know if VMWare player has this functionality or will I need the Pro version or another piece of software? And - side note -the new PC only had 6gb of ram. Any ramifications of running a Windows 7 VM with 4gb of ram access on such a system? Should I cut it down to 3gb of ram access for the VM? I'd appreciate recommendations.
While VMWare should have no trouble doing that (or any other virtualization software), be aware that if the windows is OEM, it will become deactivated by this procedure as Windows sees the virtual pc and not the actual BIOS which activates windows. Also, most hardware device will have to be reinstalled.

As @md_Guy suggests, make an image of the old harddrive and run windows from there. There you can mess up and simply create a new image from the disk to retry. :)
I was actually able to get VMware Player to work with a physical disk. It's actually very easy to setup. However, the performance is dog slow over a USB 3.0 hdd dock. Not sure what the issue is so I'll have to look into it.
I'm confused... I presume that drive came with a recovery partition? Why didn't you just clone the entire thing complete?
I'm confused... I presume that drive came with a recovery partition? Why didn't you just clone the entire thing complete?

The issue was that his new PC had a 1tb 5400rpm drive with 5 partitions including EFI/Primary/Recovery/etc. that I was cloning to a 525gb SSD (just shrinking the Primary and including the other partitions in full) using Macrium Reflect. However, being that his new PC used Secure Boot (and this was my first time dealing with that), my plan all went to piss and the cloned SSD wasn't recognized as a boot device in either secure or standard boot modes. I should have just ran the recovery from the new PC to the SSD and re-installed from scratch but I ran out of time and needed to get his PC back to him.

The reason I didn't just image the old PC 1tb drive was that I wasn't planning on imaging it to the SSD because the SSD was already less than half the capacity of the original drive and my Uncle still is an avid photographer so I wanted to give him as much usable space as possible. I was hoping that the USB 3.0 dock would provide a suitable connection for the old PC's 7200rpm drive, but something was/is bottlenecking it. I'm starting to think it was VMware's own USB support (i.e., running the disk off of the USB 3.0 dock and VMware picking up on USB devices causing stalling), but again, I ran out of time and couldn't get everything done I needed done and he now has his PC back.