How to Import VMware Workstation Guest Machines to VirtualBox

presentation 1794128 640
presentation 1794128 640

The tutorial guides students and new users on how to import existing VMware Workstation guest machines to VirtualBox without converting the .vmdk disk. After installing the VirtualBox extension pack, the users can import the .vmdk file directly. It is important to note that deleting the virtual machine from either host software will delete the file for both devices.

This brief tutorial will show students and new users how to easily import existing VMware Workstation guest machines to VirtualBox. There is no need to convert the .vmdk disk first before importing.

If you have guest operation systems already created for your VMware Workstation, there is no need to create a new one for VirtualBox. All you have to do is import the existing VMware format to VirtualBox. It’s easy.

Previously, the only way to use VMware guest machines was to convert the .vmdk disk into .vdi, .ova of .ovf file format. You don’t need to do that anymore.

VirtualBox does this automatically now. It’s so simple.

To use an existing VMware Workstation disk (.vmdk), all you have to do is follow the guide below:

Before importing the .vmdk image into VirtualBox, you must install the extension pack first. When the extension pack is installed, you can then continue below.

First, open Oracle VirtualBox host software. Then, click New –> Create Virtual Machine.

Then create a new virtual machine, select the type of machine and version, and click Next.

ubuntu create virtual machines

Then select the option to use an existing virtual hard disk file. Next, use the browse folder to browse to where the current VMware disk (.vmdk) disk file is located and select it.

VirtualBox should automatically convert the existing .vmdk disk to a compatible format for VirtualBox.

Remember, the VMware Workstation and VirtualBox host software will share the virtual disk. Therefore, you can only run one virtualization software using the same guest machine at a time.

Deleting the virtual machine from either host software will delete the file for both devices. To run the guest machine smoothly under both VMware Workstation and VirtualBox, install the open-source guest tool below on a Linux guest machine.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools-desktop

This should get you working efficiently.


This post shows students and new users an easy way to use existing VMware Workstation disks on VirtualBox. VirtualBox extension pack must first be installed before importing the .vmdk disk file.

When you import the .vmdk file, both host software will share the same file. Deleting it from either software, including the disk file, will delete it everywhere.


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  1. Could not get the storage format of the medium ‘C:\virtuals\hostname-flat.vmdk’ (VERR_NOT_SUPPORTED).

  2. Ahmazing guys…! I was able to recover a vmwareworkstation virtual machine, in a broken win10, booting from a live tails usb, mounting the win drive, copying it to an external usb. Then from my mac, it was easy peasy with virtualbox!

    Yes, there were a lot of git unstaged changes on that machine…

  3. This doesn’t sound right. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what the author is trying to demonstrate, but I’m having a hard time determining if the author is conveying that you would be able to boot the virtual machine in VMWare Workstation after having the virtual disk file (.vmdk) converted into the VirtualBox format. This doesn’t sound right.

  4. This is quite misleading.
    1. It does not “import the guest machine”, it just allows you to use its disk. You still have to define the VM properties (OS/CPU/RAM/etc.) from scratch and hope they are compatible with what’s on the disk.
    2. It does not “automatically convert the disk to a compatible format”, VirtualBox is just able to use the vmdk format directly, which is why you can still use VMWare with it, which seems to be a really bad idea, by the way. As an aside, you can use the command line utility vboxmanage to convert a vmdk to a new vdi, which would be a much better plan.
    3. “Deleting the machine from either host software” may or may not delete the disk file, depending on what option you pick at the time.
    4. To genuinely import a VMWare machine into VirtualBox you would first have to export it with OVFTool.

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