How to Run Windows 7 on NVMe SSD Drive in a Virtual Machine

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 the NVMe disk.

How to Run Windows 7 on NVMe SSD Drive

How to Use Windows 7 on NVMe Disk on 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 from Google, or you can install it with Windows updates.

NVMe is a newer technology than SATA, and it works better than SATA. With the latest 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 Windows 7 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, 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 Microsoft constantly supports Windows 10 to adapt to new technologies.

In short, using an up-to-date and genuine Windows 10 will be seamless, compatible, and valuable 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 them from scratch, as the Dell firm stated in this document.

How to Add NVMe Hard Disk to Windows 7 on VMware

After installing an operating system with VMware, you can add a second hardware, such as an HDD or a network card, to the virtual computer. Or if you are going to install an old system like Windows 95, you need to add Floppy Drive.

Steps:

Step 1

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.

Add Hardware Wizard

Step 2

In the Select a Disk Type window, select NVMe instead of SATA and click on the Next button.

Choosing the NVMe Disk Type

Step 3

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.

Creating a New Virtual Disk

Step 4

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 to be more significant. 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.

Configuring the Size of the Virtual Disk

Step 5

In the Specify Disk File window, type NVMeWin7 or another name for the name of the virtual disk.

Changing the Name of the Virtual Disk

Step 6

After adding a new storage unit to the virtual machine, click the OK button to close the hardware window.

NVMe Drive

Step 7

Run the Windows 7 x64 virtual machine.

Running Windows 7 x64 Virtual Machine

Step 8

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 has not been installed.

Now, click on PCI Device, select Hardware IDS from Property under Details, get the hardware address of the drive from the Value section, and proceed to the next step.

PCI\VEN_15AD&DEV_07F0&SUBSYS_07F015AD&REV_00

PCI Device

Step 9

Download the driver of the NVMe HDD you added to the Win7 virtual computer by clicking and copying the file to the VM.

NVMe Driver Installation

Step 10

Double-click on the PCI Device, open the hardware properties and then click the Update Driver button.

Updating the Driver

Step 11

Click Browse my computer for driver software to install the NVMe driver manually.

Browse My Computer For Drive

Step 12

After extracting the NVMe Driver archived file that you downloaded to your computer, select the driver folder and then click the OK button.

NVMe Driver for Win7 x64 Guest

Step 13

After specifying the location containing the NVMe SSD’s drivers, click Next to start the installation.

Initiating Manual Driver Installation

Step 14

This time, when you encounter an unsigned driver warning from Windows, like the image below, click Install this driver software anyway.

Install This Driver Anyway

Step 15

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)

Standard NVMe Express Controller

Step 16

To enable NVMe disk support on Windows 7 64 Bit SP1 operating system and to resolve the Code 37 error above, click 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.

Installing Required Windows Hotfixes for NVMe Support

Step 17

Click the Yes button to install the KB3087873 hotfix in the Windows Update Standalone Installer window.

Hotfix for Windows

Step 18

Wait while hotfix installs for Windows 7.

Installing Hotfix

Step 19

Likewise, double-click on Windows6.1-KB2990941 to install it, and then click the Restart Now button for the updates to take effect.

Hotfix Installation Completed

Step 20

Wait while Windows is configuring updates, and do not turn off your virtual computer.

Configuring Windows Updates

Step 21

After your virtual system restarts, you can now see the Standard NVMe Express Controller driver is active and running smoothly through Device Manager.

NVMe Driver Installed Without Problem

Step 22

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, 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.

Initializing the Disk

Step 23

To edit your new HDD, right-click on it and click New Simple Volume.

Creating a New Simple Volume

Step 24

When the new simple volume wizard opens, click Next in the window, which tells you that simple volumes can only be created on a single disk.

New Simple Volume Wizard

Step 25

In the Specify Volume Size window, do not configure the default value to use the entire disk size; click Next.

Configuring the Partition Size

Step 26

In the Assign Drive Letter or Path window, click Next to enable the new volume and assign a letter.

Assigning Letters to the Drive

Step 27

In the Format Partition window, please type the name of your disk that will appear on My Computer in the Volume Label section, select Perform a quick format, and click Next to format the disk quickly.

Formatting the New Partition

Step 28

Click Finish after completing the process of creating a new simple volume on your new disk.

New Partition Wizard Completed

Step 29

When you view My Computer, you can see that the NVMe SSD Drive hardware is now ready.

Viewing the New Disk on My Computer

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.

Step 1

Install MiniTools Partition software on your virtual computer and then run it. On the main screen of the program, you will see two disks defined in your system: SATA and NVMe.

Right-click on the SATA disk and then click Copy.

Selecting the Source Disk to Cloned with MiniTool Partition

Step 2

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.

Choosing the Target Disk

Step 3

Click Yes in the window to tell yourself that all data on the target disk will be deleted.

All Information on Disk Will Be Deleted

Step 4

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.

Fit Partitions to the Whole Disk

Step 5

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.

Notice of Boot from Target Disk

Step 6

Review all the settings you have made and click the Apply button to make the changes.

Applying Clone Settings

Step 7

At this stage, close all applications running in the background on your virtual machine and click Yes.

Starting Disk Cloning

Step 8

Wait while all data on the source disk is copied to the target disk.

Cloning SATA Disk to NVMe Disk

Step 9

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, essential 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.

Restarting the Computer for Remaining Operations

Step 10

At this step, do not press any key to start the MiniTool Partition program!

Welcome the Partition Wizard

Step 11

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.

Partition Wizard - Boot Mode

Step 12

After the SATA virtual drive has been successfully cloned into the NVMe virtual drive, the final settings are made to boot your system.

Updating System, Please Wait

Step 13

At this stage, your virtual computer will restart. If it cannot boot up to 60 seconds, restart your system manually.

Computer Restart Warning

Step 14

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.

Viewing the Cloned Disk on My Computer

Step 15

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.

NVMe VMware Virtual N SCSI Disk Device

Step 16

Select Hard Disk (SATA) in the Virtual Machine Settings window and click the Remove button.

Deleting SATA Hard Disk on VMware

Step 17

Check that the virtual disk is removed and only the NVMe disk is active.

Hard Disk (NVMe)

Step 18

Start your virtual computer to check if it will boot from NVMe.

Running the Virtual Computer

Step 19

You can see that your VM now boots from the NVMe SSD drive.

Verifying Win7 Virtual Machine Operation on NVMe

Step 20

You can check the drivers from Device Manager to verify that you only have NVMe storage devices in your system.

Verifying NVMe SSD from Device Manager

Step 21

Finally, repair VMware Tools on the virtual machine and restart your system to ensure complete system compatibility.

VMware Tools - Repair

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