Paragon Go Virtual (32-bit version)
A lot of fuss is being made these days about disk image backups being rendered for virtual machines. Microsoft has actually integrated this ability into the latest versions of Windows, so simply creating one is no big deal. However, a program such as Paragon's Go Virtual that will not only create them in Microsoft format, but in VMware and Oracle's VirtualBox format as well, is rare and useful. VMware and VirtualBox have historically offered more features and have users/fans who simply do not wish to switch.
To use Go Virtual, you'll need to get a product key and serial number from the company's Web site. You're sent there from one of the installation dialogs and the info is then e-mailed to you. Refreshingly, the checkboxes for receiving advertising email from the company are actually unchecked by default. There is a button on the main screen to upgrade to the company's Virtualization Manager 2010 Professional, which adds the ability to create a virtual machine from plain Paragon drive image files, but Go Virtual should actually be enough for the average user.
Paragon Go Virtual uses a wizard to walk you through the image creation process: selecting the partitions to image, which format the image will be in, and where it will be saved. It also asks you some other questions such as what type of virtual hard drive you want it to mimic, IDE or SCSI, etc. Just accept the defaults and you're good to go.
Go Virtual will also convert virtual machines it has already created between any of the three popular formats, you don't have to waste time creating multiple images of the same partition. Note that the conversion process operates upon the existing VM; it doesn't create a new one. Also, your virtual hard drive won't be bootable unless it's an image of an operating partition.
All in all, Go Virtual worked perfectly and is perfectly useful in its free incarnation. If you're into VMs at all, it's a download must.
Note: This software comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. This is the 32-bit version. If your 64-bit PC is running a 64-bit OS, please download the 64-bit version instead.
--Jon L. Jacobi