For some reason, you may need to open a VMDK file to read or transfer the content without using it on a virtual machine. In this guide let me show the simple and easy method to open a VMware VMDK file in Windows 10/11, the same method is applicable for earlier Windows Operating Systems such as 8.1 and 7 as long as you have any VMware products on your computer.
Also, we can access the Physical hard disk (like C or D partition of the host computer) inside Virtual Machine by this method in VMware. But, in this guide, we will discuss how to access the VMDK virtual disk file in Windows OS without powering on the particular VM. This method could be an ideal solution when you have a Virtual machine that is not booting, but you need to access some important data from the specific virtual hard disk file.
Steps to Open VMware VMDK File in Windows 10/11
1) Locate the virtual disk file you want to open or edit in Windows host OS. Right-click on it as shown below.
2) You must have a VMware workstation (or VMware Player) on the host computer to make it work.
Most of the time the VMDK file type would have been already associated with the VMware program. Once your Windows host computer knows that VMDK files should be opened by the VMware Workstation program, you will see an option called “Map Virtual Disk..” as shown above.
If you notice, there is another option below called “Map First Volume as Z:”, it will automatically mount and open the first volume of the VMDK file in read-only format. But we are not aware of what is the first volume and mostly it could be the system reserved portion on the bootable partition, hence it will not be helpful. So, select the first option “Map Virtual Disk..” and explore all partitions. Later we can select the desired partition to mount as shown in the next step.
3) It is always recommended to open the VMDK files in Read-only format to prevent any modifications to the virtual disk file that may cause booting or operating system issues for the virtual machine. If you are certain of what you are doing, then you can remove the tick and open the drive with writing access.
This method will help to modify some boot options, overwrite corrupted files and do any other tasks to troubleshoot issues on the virtual machine. Once the ‘Map Virtual Disk’ option is opened, select the partition you want to open on the host computer, change the Read-only access (required) and the mount point drive letter.
In the above example, I selected the 2nd partition (which is the C drive of the Virtual machine) with read-only access. Z is the drive letter of the mount point on my Windows 10 host.
4) Here is the VMDK file mounted on Windows explorer with the specific drive letter.
5) Now I can easily copy the data from the virtual hard disk (VMDK) to host Windows 10 or 8.1/1 through Windows Explorer. Since I opened it in Read-only access, I can’t delete or modify any files inside the VMDK file.
Remember This Step:
Do remember to unmount (Disconnect) the file once your task is completed. Otherwise, you can’t use the VMDK file in VMware programs or move the file to a different location because it will be in locked/open state.
I hope this guide is useful in opening the VMware VMDK file in Windows 10, 8.1 and 11 easily. Though there are several 3rd party tools available to mount or extract the VMDK files, they are complicated and paid versions too. This method can be done without any tools if you have a VMware workstation on your computer.