How to Extract .vmdk Files to VMWare

Updated July 19, 2017

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.

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."

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

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

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

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.

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


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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About the Author

Jason Artman has been a technical writer since entering the field in 1999 while attending Michigan State University. Artman has published numerous articles for various websites, covering a diverse array of computer-related topics including hardware, software, games and gadgets.