How to Install Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 without the Hidden Partition
Both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, when installed, create a 100-400 MB hidden partition (named “System Reserved”) for use with System Recovery and the BitLocker feature. This hidden partition is also where the boot manager is placed.
Now, the hidden partition is fine when installing these operating systems on physical machines, but when using these OSs in virtual machines, the hidden partition can cause problems. If you use any methods or tools that copy or deploy VMs that access the VM’s disks by volume (partition) rather than by drive (for example, ImageX), you will miss the hidden partition and get boot errors when you attempt to boot a copy of the original VM, because the boot manager is missing.
So, unless you need BitLocker in your VM, I recommend installing Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 without the hidden partition.
Previously, the only way I knew to install without the hidden partition was to “fool” the installation routine into installing the entire OS on the System Reserved partition. However, there is a much more straightforward way. All you need to do is pre-partition the drive at the beginning of the installation.
- Create the VM and specify that you will be using an ISO image or using the installation disk(s).
- At the Install Windows screen, (the one where you are asked to for your Language to Install: andTime and Currency format:), don’t click Next. Instead, press Shift-F10 and a command prompt will open.
- The command prompt will show a prompt similar to this: X:Sources>. Type diskpart and pressEnter to start the disk partitioning utility. It will have its own prompt, looking like this: DISKPART>
- Type list disk followed by Enter to show the disks in your VM.
- Type select disk 0 and Enter to select the first disk (or use disk 1 for the second disk, etc. as your needs require.)
- Type create partition primary and Enter to create a single, primary partition on the selected disk.
- Type active and Enter to mark the partition as active.
- Type format fs=ntfs quick followed by Enter to format the partition.
- Type exit to quit running diskpart.
- Type exit again to close the command prompt and return to the installation process.
- Follow the installation wizard until you get to the Which type of installation do you want? screen. Choose Custom (advanced).
- In the Where do you want to install Windows? screen, make sure your desired drive and partition is selected, and click Next.
From this point forward, just install the OS as usual. You will have it all installed entirely on the selected partition and no hidden partition will be there.