Unlink a linked clone?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by IanL1, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. IanL1

    IanL1 Junior Member

    Hi all,

    (Using PD10.2.0 28956) I created a linked clone some time ago, but it is now unnecessary and I'm trying to clean up VMs. Is there a way to unlink or merge? I can't seem to find one.
    In my searching I discovered that a Fusion user trying to do the same thing simply cloned the linked clone. I did this, so now I have the following scenario:
    Linked Clone <=== Base Image
    Independant Clone

    I did a quick test before removing anything, and the Independent clone boots up correctly.
    When I delete the base image from the HDD, Control Centre shows red question marks against Base Image and Linked Clone, and Independent Clone still shows OS icon (Win7 in this case). Okay so far.
    When I try to boot the Independent Clone, it gives an error stating "Unable to connect Hard Disk 0". What gives?
    Same thing happens if I remove the Base Image through Control Centre (except in this case it also removes Linked Clone).

    So we've come full circle. Somehow the clone of a linked clone still refers to the base image. How do I unlink it?!
  2. Manoj@Parallels

    Manoj@Parallels Parallels Support Parallels Support

    Hi Ian,
    Please submit a Problem Report ID http://kb.parallels.com/9058 and provide us the ID number here, to investigate further on this issue.
  3. IanL1

    IanL1 Junior Member

    I just recreated the problem and generated the problem report, ID is 65929472.
    Also it might be worth noting that this problem does not occur if I delete the Linked Clone. The Independent Clone will continue to boot ok. Only if the Base Image is deleted will the problem arise.
  4. IanL1

    IanL1 Junior Member

    Also of interest:
    Base image: 38.06Gb
    Linked Clone: 33.56Gb
    Independant Clone: 25.65Gb
  5. flakshack

    flakshack Member

    I had the same issue. It would be great if Parallels would fix this problem. In my case, I wanted to grow the C: drive on a linked clone (which can't be done). Creating a clone of a linked clone results in a copy of the linked clone that still points back to the original disk.

    If you take a look at the DiskDescriptor.xml file (right-click on the VM, show-package contents, then right-click on the disk, show-package contents), you can see that it still points to the old disk. For example in a snippet of my XML below, you can see how the file points to the linked clone disk (in blue) and the original's base disk (in red).

    <File>/Users/myuser/Documents/Parallels/Windows 7 Base.pvm/Windows 7-0.hdd/Windows 7-0.hdd.0.{30adbcb9-6e79-42b1-8aea-ec2704cf5e7e}.hds</File>​
    <File>Windows 7-0.hdd.0.{5fbaabe3-6958-40ff-92a7-860e329aab41}.hds</File>​

    I haven't tested, but I would assume that you can make a copy of the red file and put it in the current directory. Then just erase the path from in front of the red filename above. This doesn't fix the problem, since there are still 2 disks, but obviously it depends on what you're trying to achieve.

    To actually merge the disks into a single disk, you have to do this manually:
    1. Make a backup copy just in case things go wrong.
    2. In the configuration for the VM, add a new hard disk.
    3. Download the Clonezilla ISO: http://clonezilla.org/downloads/download.php?branch=stable (the stable version gave me problems, so I went back to an old version 1.2.3 and it worked great)
    4. Set the VM to boot from the Clonezilla ISO. (Change the boot order so it only tries to boot from the ISO.) Don't boot into Windows.
    5. Boot the VM and use Clonezilla to copy the old disk to the new disk. There are plenty of videos demonstrating this on YouTube.
    6. Shutdown the VM and remove the old hard disk.
    7. Set the location of the new hard drive to the correct SATA port (usually SATA 0:1).
    8. Set the new hard drive as the first in the boot order and make sure it is checked.
    9. Boot the new VM and enjoy your unlinked clone.
  6. IanL1

    IanL1 Junior Member

    Thanks flakshack, I hadn't realised the .hdd file was actually a directory (even though I was doing most of this through Terminal, I missed the 'd').
    Also good tip on Clonezilla. I've used it before, and probably will use it to solve this problem, but it's disappointing. It's a very clunky solution to something that should be possible natively in Parallels.

    I'm trying to clean up how many VMs I have (which moving the .hds file and editing the DiskDescriptor.xml file will accomplish), but also free up some disk space. Using the linked clone really doesn't save much space over a normal clone, certainly not as much as I would expect. My linked clone is 33GB! Only 5GB less than the original, and I certainly haven't added 33GB of data to it.

    I guess the answer to my original question is no, it's not possible to merge or unlink a linked clone.
  7. PierreV1

    PierreV1 Bit poster


    Two questions:

    1. Since you asked IanL to create a problem report, does that mean that Parallels recognizes that a clone of a Linked Clone should work independently from the base image? (and that the current behavior is a bug)?

    2. Is it possible for the rest of us to follow the progress of the Problem Report ID 65929472 that was submitted by IanL?

  8. Scolli19

    Scolli19 Bit poster

    A method to unlink a linked clone needs to be added as a supported feature of parallels desktop. VMWare fusion will let you create a standalone VM from a linked clone...I am ready to switch to VM Fusion!!!
  9. MichaelA11

    MichaelA11 Bit poster

    [This is using Parallels 12]
    I figured out a workaround to unlink a linked clone since there is no built-in feature in Parallels (as of this post). There is one caveat, in that you will have to reactivate Windows on the unlinked VM. Since I discovered this, I have gone through and unlinked all my linked VMs. Hard drive space is cheap and linked clones are too much of a headache and risk.

    Quick explanation:
    You will install the Parallels Transport Agent on the VM and "migrate" Windows from the linked VM to a new standalone VM. Basically what the transport agent app does is create an image of Windows to an external location. This image turns out to be a standalone parallels VM identical to the unlinked clone. Then you add this new VM using the "add new VM" wizard and choose: "Transfer Windows from a PC". Voila! Clean unlinked VM.

    Long explanation:
    1. Make sure all VMs are suspended or shut down.
    2. Launch the linked clone VM you want to unlink.
    3. Open up a browser in the VM and download the Parallels Transporter Agent from the official Parallels download page. Make sure you download the right version of the agent for the version of parallels you are running.
    4. Install the agent on the VM. It might ask you to reboot the VM.
    5. Run the agent if it doesn't launch automatically. When prompted, select to migrate to an external USB drive (or large USB stick) and navigate to the drive. Personally I created a subfolder on the drive.
    6. When asked, select to transfer ALL files, applications and documents (System and Files).
    7. When asked where to transfer your files choose: "Transfer to Windows".
    8. You will be asked to confirm that Windows needs reactivation. You've been warned.
    9. The process will be long depending on the size of the VM. For me I had a 40GB VM that took 2hrs to "migrate".
    10. Once it's done, shutdown the VM and make sure the USB drive is mounted to the MAC.
    11. Open Parallels Control Center on the MAC and select File...New
    12. In the Wizard select "Transfer Windows from a PC" then select External Storage.
    13. Click the "Select Manually" button and navigate to the migration file (parallels VM) that was created in step 9.
    14. When asked, select to import\transfer ALL files, applications and documents.
    15. Once the import\transfer is done Parallels will start the VM after asking some basic questions.
    16. At this point you are basically done. However the default VM memory and processor cores are probably not desirable. You should configure these to match the old VM BEFORE you activate Windows.
    I hope this helps someone.
    VI Shots LLC
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  10. PaulChristopher@Parallels

    PaulChristopher@Parallels Product Expert Staff Member

    Hi @MichaelA11, thanks for the workaround! We really appreciated the effort!

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