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.
- Access and use data stored on a physical hard disk from a virtual machine.
- To perform backup and recovery operations, migrate data or use old hard disks inside the VM.
- 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.
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.
4) Select the recommended disk type (IDE) and the ‘Use a physical disk’ option.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.