For some reason, you may need to open a VMDK file to read or transfer the content without using on a virtual machine. In this guide let me show the simple and easy method to open a VMware VMDK file in Windows 10, the same method is applicable for any 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 VMware Virtual Machine by this method. But, here we are going to discuss how we can access the Virtual disk (VMDK file) in Windows OS without opening VMware software. This method could be an ideal solution when you have a Virtual machine which is not booting, but you need to access some important data from the specified virtual hard disk file – VMDK.
Steps to Open VMware VMDK File in Windows 10/8.1 and 7
1) Locate the Virtual Disk file you want to open or edit in Windows host OS. Right-click on it as below.
2) You must have VMware workstation 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 10 or 8.1 host computer knows that VMDK files should be opened by VMware Workstation program, you will see an option “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.
But we are not sure what is the first volume and mostly it would be the system reserved disk on the bootable partition, hence it will not be helpful always. So, better select the first option “Map Virtual Disk..” and explore all partitions, then 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 in the virtual disk that may cause booting or OS issues in the virtual machine. If you are certain 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 any other tasks you can do in the virtual disk to boot the virtual machine. Once the ‘Map Virtual Disk’ option 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 the 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 opned opened in Read-only access, I can’t delete or modify any files inside the opned VMDK file.
Remember to unmount (Disconnect) the file once your task complted. Otherwise you can’t use the VMDK file in VMware programs or move the file to diffrent location.
I hope this guide is useful in opening the VMware VMDK file in Windows 10, 8.1 and 7 easily. Though there are several 3rd party tools available to mound or extratct the VMDK files, some are complicated paid versions. This method can be done without any tools if you have VMware workstaion in your computer.