In this article, we will examine how to add a new NVMe drive to the Windows 7 x64 Ultimate SP1 virtual machine running on the VMware Workstation 16 Pro virtualization program and how to build it on NVMe by cloning the SATA disk to NVMe disk.
How to Use Windows 7 on NVMe Disk on VMware Workstation, VirtualBox, ESXi, or Hyper-V Virtualization Software
When you add an NVMe SSD HDD to a Win7 virtual machine that you have installed with VMware Workstation or other virtualization software, the NVMe drivers will not be installed by the system automatically. Therefore, you can find and install the relevant hardware ID by Google or you can install it with Windows updates.
NVMe is a newer technology compared to SATA structure and it also works better than SATA. With the new version of VMware Pro, NVMe disk type can now be used, but when you want to use an old system such as Windows 7, you need to install some Hotfixes by Microsoft Windows.
Since Microsoft officially ended support for Win7 on January 14, 2020, new disk structures such as NVMe will no longer be supported in both virtual machines and physical computers in the future. Because, for an operating system whose support is terminated, new updates will not be released for such new technologies, so installation and incompatibility problems may occur.
For example, when you create a new virtual machine for Windows 10 in VMware 16 and select NVMe in the Select Disk Type window, this disk type will be automatically recognized by the operating system during the installation phase. This is because Windows 10 is constantly supported by Microsoft to adapt to new technologies.
In short, using an up-to-date and genuine Windows 10 will be seamless, compatible, and useful for many more new technologies such as the NVMe disk type.
The easiest way to run and use Windows 7 on NVMe is to do a clean install with the SATA disk type and then clone or copy the SATA to the NVMe by adding a second disk.
A second method is to add the necessary Windows Hotfixes to the Windows 7 ISO file and install from scratch, as Dell firm stated in this document.
To add an extra HDD to the Windows 7 VM installed on the SATA disk, when the virtual machine is turned off, click on any device in the Devices area, and then click the Add button in the window that displays the hardware.
In the Select a Disk Type window, select NVMe instead of SATA and click on the Next button.
As with physical environments, you need to create a new virtual disk in VMware Pro to add a disk to the virtual computer. In the Select a Disk window, check Create a new virtual disk and click Next.
In the Specify Disk Capacity window, you can configure the size of the virtual disk to the size you want. Although the size of the SATA disk is 30GB, you can configure the NVMe disk for more size. In this case, you will not encounter any problems during the disk cloning process.
After configuring the size of the virtual disk, select the Store virtual disk as a single file option and click Next.
In the Specify Disk File window, type NVMeWin7 or another name for the name of the virtual disk.
After adding a new storage unit to the virtual machine, click the OK button to close the hardware window.
Run the Windows 7 x64 virtual machine.
Right-click on My Computer, then click Manage and when Computer Management opens, click Device Manager.
The PCI Device with the yellow exclamation that you see in the Other Devices section indicates that the driver for the NVMe hardware you are adding is not installed.
Now, click on PCI Device and select Hardware IDS from Property under Details and get the hardware address of the drive from the Value section and proceed to the next step.
Download the driver of the NVMe HDD you added to the Win7 virtual computer by clicking here and copy the file to the VM.
Double click on the PCI Device and open the hardware properties, then click the Update Driver button.
Click Browse my computer for driver software to manually install the NVMe driver.
After extracting the NVMe Driver archived file that you downloaded to your computer, select the driver folder and then click the OK button.
After specifying the location containing the NVMe SSD’s drivers, click Next to start the installation.
This time, when you encounter an unsigned driver warning from Windows, like the image below, click Install this driver software anyway.
After installing the Standard NVMe Express Controller driver, you will see that Windows cannot start the driver you installed from the PCI hardware properties. This error means that the hardware you added can run successfully on your computer or virtual machine, but Windows does not recognize the driver you installed.
Windows cannot initialize the device driver for this hardware. (Code 37)
To enable NVMe disk support on Windows 7 64 Bit SP1 operating system and to resolve the Code 37 error above, click this link to download Windows KB2990941 and KB3087873 Hotfixes to your computer and copy them to the VM.
After downloading the NVMe Hotfix files, you need to install both hotfixes on your system. Double click on Windows6.1-KB3087873 and start the installation.
Click the Yes button to install KB3087873 hotfix in the Windows Update Standalone Installer window.
Wait while hotfix installs for Windows 7.
Likewise, double click on Windows6.1-KB2990941 to install and then click the Restart Now button for the updates to take effect.
Wait while Windows is configuring updates and do not turn off your virtual computer.
After your virtual system restarts, you can now see the Standard NVMe Express Controller driver is active and running smoothly through Device Manager.
Until this step, you have communicated seamlessly between Win7 and your NVMe drive. Now, all you have to do is initialize your new disk via Disk Management and create a new partition and assign a drive letter.
As soon as you click Disk Management when the Initialize Disk window opens, click OK with the MBR selected.
To edit your new HDD, right-click on it and click New Simple Volume.
When the new simple volume wizard opens, click Next in the window telling you that simple volumes can only be created on a single disk.
In the Specify Volume Size window, do not configure the default value to use the entire size of the disk and just click Next.
In the Assign Drive Letter or Path window, click Next to enable the new volume and assign a letter.
In the Format Partition window, type the name of your disk that will appear on My Computer in the Volume Label section and select Perform a quick format and click Next to quickly format the disk.
Click Finish after completing the process of creating a new simple volume on your new disk.
When you view My Computer, you can see that the NVMe SSD Drive hardware is now ready.
How to Copy / Clone SATA Disk to NVMe Disk Using MiniTool Partition
You can clone the Win7 operating system you are using on the SATA disk to the newly added NVMe disk by the Clone method.
We will use MiniTool Partition Wizard Server 9.0 software for the disk copy/cloning method. The version of this program may be old, but it is still stable today.
Install MiniTools Partition software on your virtual computer and then run it. On the main screen of the program, you will see 2 disks defined in your system, SATA and NVMe.
Right-click on the SATA disk and then click Copy.
In the Select Target Disk window, select the target disk to copy all data on the source disk. Here, select the NVMe disk you just added and click Next.
Click Yes in the window telling you that all data on the target disk will be deleted.
In the Review the Changes window, in the Copy Options section, select Fit Partitions to Entire Disk to copy all data from the source disk to the target disk in the same way and click Next.
If you want to boot your virtual computer from the target disk after cloning, click Finish in the window that informs you to define the new disk in the default boot sequence.
Review all the settings you have made and click the Apply button to make the changes.
At this stage, close all applications running in the background on your virtual machine and click Yes.
Wait while all data on the source disk is being copied to the target disk.
Since drive C is in use, MiniTool Partition will do the rest of the cloning process after booting. If you were copying the data disk on your host or another computer, you wouldn’t need to reboot your system.
Here, it is reported that since there are installation files of the Windows operating system on the C drive, important files can only be made after the program is activated after booting.
Restart your Windows 7 virtual computer and complete the rest of the disk copying steps.
At this step, do not press any key to start the MiniTool Partition program!
In the Partition Wizard – Boot Mode window, you can see the disk copy process is underway. Since this process will take a while, wait and do not turn off your computer.
After the SATA virtual drive has been successfully cloned into the NVMe virtual drive, the final settings are made to boot your system.
At this stage, your virtual computer will restart. If it cannot boot up to 60 seconds, restart your system manually.
After your Windows 7 machine is booted, click on My Computer and check the drivers. In this step, the other disk is idle as your VM is powered on from the SATA disk, so you need to delete the SATA disk from the VM.
Expand the disk drivers from the Device Manager and check if both disk types are active. To remove the SATA disk, first shut down the VM.
Select Hard Disk (SATA) in the Virtual Machine Settings window and click the Remove button.
Check that the virtual disk is removed and only the NVMe disk is active.
Start your virtual computer to check if it will boot from NVMe.
You can see that your VM now boots from the NVMe SSD drive.
You can check the drivers from Device Manager to verify that you only have NVMe storage devices in your system.
Finally, repair VMware Tools on the virtual machine and restart your system to ensure full system compatibility.