How to Extract .vmdk Files to VMWare

Written by jason artman
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How to Extract .vmdk Files to VMWare
A .vmdk file contains the entire contents of a VMWare virtual hard drive. (Hard Drive image by Tabitha Little from

If you are a new user of VMWare, you may have found files with the extension .vmdk online and wondered what to do with them. A .vmdk file is a full copy of a virtual hard drive, condensed into a single file. In most cases, a .vmdk file should come with a .vmx file, which contains the configuration information for the virtual machine that the hard drive image came from. If you have a .vmdk file without a .vmx file, add the hard drive image to an existing virtual machine to view and extract its contents.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Launch VMWare Player. Right click the name of the virtual machine that you would like to extract the .vmdk file with and click "Edit VM."

  2. 2

    Click the "Add" button at the bottom of the window. This will bring up a list of hardware for you to select from.

  3. 3

    Select "Hard Disk," then click "Next."

  4. 4

    Select "Use an existing virtual disk" and click "Next."

  5. 5

    Click the "Browse" button. Navigate to the location of the .vmdk file that you would like to read and double-click it. Click "Finish" to return to the main VMWare Player window.

  6. 6

    Launch the virtual machine and read the contents of the hard drive as you normally would for that operating system.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are unable to read the contents of a .vmdk file using the virtual machine that you have selected, make sure that the virtual machine is running the appropriate operating system. For example, a .vmdk file formatted using the FAT32 file system can only be read by Windows NT-based operating systems such as Windows XP, Vista or 7. To read an NTFS drive on other operating systems, modifications may have to be made.

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