How to Access/Attach VMware Disk (VMDK) in Oracle VirtualBox VM

As VirtualBox is more flexible than VMware workstation, you can easily add the VMware virtual disk (VMDK) file to VirtualBox console and to any of the VMs. By doing this, you can easily access the contents of the VMDK file inside the virtual machine in VirtualBox. Even if the VMDK file contains a bootable Operating System, it can be attached and booted in VirtualBox. Let me shows the steps involved in attaching and accessing the VMDK file in VirtualBox.

We have earlier published a guide showing how to open and access the contents in VMDK file from Windows 10/8.1 Operating System itself. That method requires VMware workstation program on the computer. You can read the guide here. If you have copied or moved the VMDK file from the different host, adding them to existing virtual machine on VirtualBox becomes handy for data access.

Follow the steps to complete this task

Note: Earlier there was a way to add virtual disk files in Virtual Media Manager, now that option had been removed. Hence, we need to attach the VMDK file to the desired virtual machine directly.

1) Open the storage settings of the Virtual machine where you want to attach the VMDK file.

Open Storage Settings Of VM

2) Once the storage settings opened, click on the Add hard disk option as below. It is like we are going to attach another hard disk to the virtual machine using the same storage controller. If you want you can add another storage controller, then attach the new disk to the new controller, but I’m attaching to the same controller to make it simple.

Attach VMDK File

3) The main idea is to attach the existing new VMDK file. So, select the existing disk option.

Existing Disk

4) Now browse the VMware disk (VMDK file) you need to attach. Select the main VMDK file if you have split VMware disks. Make sure you don’t get any errors while adding. If the VirtualBox couldn’t recognize entire VMware disk, then you may get some errors. Make sure that you are not getting any errors. In the virtual machine settings, the newly added hard disk should appear under ‘Hard Disks

5) That’s it, Start the virtual machine. The VMware disk (VMDK) can be accessed now inside the VM.

Though this method is straightforward and this is the way of attaching new or existing virtual disks such as VDI, VMDK, VHD, and HDD to a virtual machine in Oracle VirtualBox, hope this guide is useful in some ways. The above same way is applicable to all Operating Systems if you have the latest VirtualBox version.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

9 thoughts on “How to Access/Attach VMware Disk (VMDK) in Oracle VirtualBox VM”

  1. Later version of vbox do not have the Add button anymore in the Virtual Media Manager.
    However drag and drop still works: just drop the file with the mouse on the list of hard disks.

  2. Yes you dont have the option to add. Create a new VM and then when prompted to create a drive choose existing hard disk and choose the path of your .vmdk file(root file) then create. Then you will find the option in your list of VM’s. Then go to setting and create another hard drive in storage and choose your secondary .vmdk file.(ensure you choose primary master and primary slave correctly) and then lauch the VM. should work

  3. On a dual boot Win7 ubuntu11.10 machine with Win7 host,
    I run virtualbox ubuntu11.10 and wish to mount ubuntu physical partition as secondary drive.

    VBoxManage needed to be run as Administrator or else errors are generated.
    Commands I used:

    \Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage internalcommands listpartitions -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive0
    \Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename C:\Users\jlettvin\.VirtualBox\VDI\RawPhysicalDrive5.vmdk -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive0 -partitions 5

    Then I open VirtualBox 4.1.4, then Virtual Media Manager, then drag file from explorer
    over to drop it, It looks like it will work, but when I drop it I get the message:

    Failed to open the hard disk

    The medium
    can’t be used as the requested device type.

    Result Code: E_FAIL (0x80004005)
    Component: Medium
    Interface: IMedius {hex numbers}
    Callee: IVirtualBox {hexnumbers}

    Is there some step I am missing?

  4. Hi, I’m trying to do that.. but when I add the disk I get this message :

    Failed to open the hard disk E:\last_IBM_backup\Virtual Machines\Fedora\Fedora.vmdk.

    Callee RC: E_FAIL (0x80004005)

    Any idea about this? Thanks in advance!

    • I finally discovered why I was getting error code0×80004005
      I order to attach vmdk device you must first start VirtualBox in Administrator mode. To do this, right click on VirtualBox in menu and select Run as Administrator.

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