How to Mount a Physical Hard Disk on VMware Workstation

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 can be handy in some cases to share data between guest and host machines.

For example, if you need to use the host PC’s entire physical disk or a partition from a virtual VMware machine, mostly everyone makes a network share or uses the built-in shared folder feature. This may not be ideal if you want to install a guest OS on a physical disk directly.

Why to Access The Physical Disk from Virtual Machine:

There could be several why you need to mount the physical disk inside the VM.

  1. Access and use data stored on a physical hard disk from a virtual machine.
  2. To perform backup and recovery operations, migrate data or use old hard disks inside the VM.
  3. Access data from an older hard disk that is incompatible with the host computer’s current operating system.

Add Physical Disk On VMware Machine.

It’s very easy to add a physical disk from Host PC to the guest PC in VMware. Follow the below steps.

A physical hard disk can be added to a virtual machine when it is completely powered off or while working only, not in suspended mode.

It is recommended to open the VMware Workstation or VMware player as administrator.

Open VMware As Administrator

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.

Add Hard Disk Option

4) Select the recommended disk type (IDE) and the ‘Use a physical disk’ option.

Use A Physical Disk

5) In the next screen, under Device, you can select the physical hard disks connected to your computer. You will see only one disk if you have a single hard drive.

Since I have 3 physical hard disks connected to my host computer, I can see 3 disks below:

Showing All Physcial Disks

Under the Usage option, select whether you want to use the entire disk or a specific partition on the selected hard disk in the device option.

Usage Option

Be cautious while selecting the disk or partition because the virtual machine will have full access. Any modification on these disks/partitions should not affect the host Operating System.

The Populated Partitions

It is better to attach the partition which doesn’t have the host’s working Operating System.

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

7) If all settings are correct, without any error message, you will return to VM’s settings screen with the added hard disk. Now your virtual machine is ready to access the physical hard disk in VMware Workstation or Player.

Desktop virtualization

8) If the hard disk is added when the virtual machine is on, you may need to restart the virtual machine or navigate to Disk Management in Computer Management and rescan for new disks.

Remember, whatever changes you make on this partition from the virtual machine will be accessible from the host OS.

Access Physical in VMware

The Error: The physical disk already in use, cannot open the disk

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

I demonstrated the above steps on Windows 11 host with the latest VMware Workstation. The above steps are almost identical for other versions as well.

If any of the above solutions did not fix the Windows PC issues, we recommend downloading the below PC repair tool to identify and solve any PC Issues.

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 “How to Mount a Physical Hard Disk on VMware Workstation”

  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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