Mount and Access Physical Hard Disk inside VMware Virtual Machine

In this guide, you will learn how to attach, mount and access the physical hard disk (entire disk or particular partition) inside a virtual machine on VMware workstation. It becomes handy in some cases to share data between guest and host machines.

For example, if you need to use host PC’s entire physical disk or a partition from VMware virtual machine, mostly everyone makes a network between host and guest then share the drive. It will be a good idea for temporary usage, but not secure if you have outside or public network. Under Desktop virtualization with VMware Workstation, you can access physical hard disk very easily and permanently as ‘Guest’s Local disk’ by adding the physical disk to VMware machine.

Add Physical Disk in VMware Machine.

It’s very easy to add physical disk from Host PC to guest PC in VMware. Follow the below steps. Though the screenshots are taken from the old version, but it is applicable for the latest versions of Windows and Mac OS X host computers.

Physical Hard disk can be added to a virtual machine when it is completely powered off or powered on, NOT in suspended mode.

1) Right-click on Virtual machine then go to settings (or click on ‘ Edit virtual machine settings’ in summary view)

2) Press Add button in Virtual Machine Settings,

3) Select Hard Disk

Desktop virtualization

4) Click Next and select ‘Use a physical disk’ option.

5) In the next screen under Device, you can select the physical hard disk which connected to your computer. If you have a single hard drive, you will see one disk only. Under usage option, select whether you want to use the entire disk or specific partition on the selected hard disk in device option.

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You can select the individual partition. It is better to attach the partition which doesn’t have host’s working Operating System. That can prevent any damage to the working host OS.

6) One VMDK configuration file for the above hard disk will be created and saved in Virtual machine’s location. Click Finish to complete the creation.

7) If all settings are correct, without any error message you will return to Virtual Machine Settings screen with the added hard disk. Now your virtual machine is ready to access the physical hard disk in VMware virtual machine.

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8) If the hard disk is added when the virtual machine is on, then you may need to restart the virtual machine or go to disk management in computer management and rescan for new disks.

I’m sure you will NOT TRY TO FORMAT the disk because that is your physical hard disk. Remember, whatever changes you make on this partition from the virtual machine will be accessible from host OS.

access Physical in vmware

If you get an error message saying “The physical disk already in use, cannot open the disk” while accessing this partition from gust VM, shutdown the VM, close VMware workstation and open VMware workstation as Administrator (Right-click the icon and select ‘Run as Administrator’)

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.

12 thoughts on “Mount and Access Physical Hard Disk inside VMware Virtual Machine”

  1. Dear Sir

    I have tried adding physical disk in vmware but it is showing error that cannot add IDE0, so please kindly suggest me what can I Do,

    My system configuration is P IV, 2.4 GHz, 2GB DDR2 Ram, and Iam using VMWare workstation 7.0

    Iam Using windows 7 in VMWare workstation

    • Hi Rajesh,
      I think you are trying to add hard disk when virtual machine is on. IDE disks cannot be added while virtual machine is on. Only SATA supports. So, just switch off the virtual machine, add the physical disk then start.

  2. Hello Sir

    “after adding physical hard disk to vmware”

    when ever I power on my PC, XP is Checking Volume for error(Scanning) Drives : D, E, F, G

    When ever I power on Virtual Machine (Windows 7) is checking Checking Volume for error(Scanning) Drives : D, E, F, G

    What would gone wrong, please advice

  3. I am having the same issue as Rajesh Bali. Host starts and runs check and replaces file security descriptors then guest does the same. Back and forth whenever either one is booted.

    Both OSes XP Pro SP3
    Host OS is on drive 0
    Guest OS is a virtual drive file on Host OS partition.
    Guest data is on phy. drive 1 (single partition).
    Host has drive 1 as unassigned.

    Any Ideas?

  4. its great stuff you written up on this blog. Have been looking for details on this all around. Great work

  5. Hi, i am new in vmware. i have setup vmware workstation8 in my pc
    which has windows 7 workstation . i have created windows vista virtual machine in vmware but when i configure my virtual machine to have access to physical disk after turning on virtual machine i encounter this message ” can not open .vmdk file or one of the snapshot disks it depends onson: rea the physical disk is already in use ”
    plz help me in this issue

  6. after adding physical disk and restarting Ubuntu, i keep geting \\physical dick. 0 failed……. pls any idea

    • i have the same issues after adding the physical disk onto vwmware and cannnot open it any more, any thoughts

  7. can not open .vmdk file or one of the snapshot disks it depends onson: rea the physical disk is already in use ” what to do now??? help me plz

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