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Currently I use Windows 7, which is located on the C partition. Can I just use Acronis to backup the entire C partition, then install Ubuntu 12.04, set up VirtualBox under Ubuntu and then restore C partition (Windows 7 and all programs) using Acronis inside VirtualBox?

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Have you considered a dual-boot? – Lekensteyn Aug 9 '12 at 15:15

No ; Windows is not nearly as forgiving as a modern Linux when moved between hardware - and VirtualBox is a machine composed of "Virtual" hardware that is almost certainly not compatible with your current real hardware.

You should look at this page :

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Is it easier and more logical to do a new installation of Windows 7 inside VirtualBox and Ubuntu? – Marko Aug 9 '12 at 15:49
Yes, Marko it would be a lot easier to just install it in virtual box. An add the software or media you had on your windows partition . On a side note vmware has tools that can do what you are looking. If you are willing to pay for it that is. – Matt Mootz Aug 9 '12 at 16:23

Actually Windows 7 is VERY forgiving about hardware changes. I backed-up an image from a Pentium Core 2 Duo (2007 hardware) and restored it to a Pentium i5 machine (2012 hardware). Mind you, the drivers were all similar (nVidia graphics, Asus Mobo, Intel CPU)... but many new drivers were installed/downloaded on first-boot. Nevertheless, it worked quite well, especially after I went into the device manager and deleted all of the old unused drivers. You'd think it would be quite successful on a VM due to the simplified virtual (and universally generic) devices the VM uses. But I wouldn't expect anything spectacular out of it (ie gaming).

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You could try the latest version (Acronis True Image 2013) with the "Plus Pack". It has the "Universal Restore (tm)" feature which supports restoring with different hardware.

from Acronis True Image 2013 Plus Pack Data Sheet:
Restore to Dissimilar Hardware Restore a computer to dissimilar hardware regardless of make, model, or installed components, or to a virtual machine.

I didn't try it with a virtual machine, but it worked for a normal PC.

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