How to Mount VMware Virtual Disks Without VMware

by David Davis - January 8, 2009

VMware Workstation and Server uses virtual disk files as the disk drives for virtual machines. These files (ending in .vmdk) are just files on the host’s hard drive. There are a number of scenarios where you would want to mount these virtual disks on the host operating system. Perhaps you want to transfer a file to or from the virtual disk or maybe the operating system is corrupt on the virtual disk and you want to make a registry change. No matter what the case, the VMware disk mount utility is available to serve this need.

What Does The VMware Disk Mount Utility Do?

The VMware disk mount utility allows you to mount a VMware virtual disk (.vmdk file) on a host Windows system. That disk is mounted as a drive letter (letter D: or greater) and you can then read, write, or modify that disk. You can only mount FAT or NTFS virtual disks. If you mount a virtual disk that has snapshots, any changes you make to the virtual disk will be lost if you revert to the snapshot. Also, you should know that you cannot mount a virtual disk from a virtual machine that is currently running or is suspended. Although VMware offers this utility for download, there is NO support offered for the VMware disk mount utility.

Where Do I Obtain The Disk Mount Utility?

To obtain the VMware disk mount utility, go to the VMware disk mount download website and accept the end user license agreement. After saying “Accept” to the EULA, you will be asked if you want to save the file. Save the .exe file to your hard drive. The name of the program is VMware-mount-5.0.0-13124.exe Now, execute this program.

Installing VMware Disk Mount

Once you run it, the installation is very simple. The process goes like this:

  • Click Next on the Installation Wizard.
  • Accept the license agreement and click Next.
  • Take the default installation directory and click Next.
  • Click Install to begin installation.
  • After the installation is completed, click Finish.

How Do I Use The VMware Disk Mount Utility?

Once installed, to use the program, you must do everything from the command line. This is strictly a command line utility. To begin using it, go to Start -> Run. Type in cmd and click OK. Type:  

cd “\Program Files\VMware\VMware DiskMount Utility”

Type: vmware-mount /?

This will show you the command options for the disk mount utility.

You can type vmware-mount without any options to show currently mounted volumes. Now, let’s mount a disk. You must first know the exact location of the VM disk that you wish to mount. Based on the location of the virtual disk you wish to mount, you will type something like this:

vmware-mount j: “C:\Documents and Settings\David Davis\My Documents\My Virtual Machines\Windows XP Professional\Windows XP Professional.vmdk”

and press Enter

In my case, the disk that I chose to mount had snapshots. I was told that this was the case and had to answer whether or not I wanted to proceed, even though any changes I made would be lost if I revert to the snapshot. I said yes and was returned to my prompt. The virtual disk is now mounted as drive J. To access the disk, just access it like any other mounted drive. Since we mounted this drive as drive J:, just type J: and press Enter. Now type dir to see what is on the disk.

You should also be able to see this disk in Windows Explorer as a local disk, like this:

As you can see, we have successfully accessed this VMware virtual disk. For more information on this utility, see the VMware disk mount utility online manual. For information on how to do this on Linux, take a look at Accessing Virtual Hard Disks Outside of VMware Workstation for Linux.

Summary

In summary, the ability to mount virtual disks on a host operating system can be very useful to transfer files back and forth between host and virtual machine. This also allows to you access virtual machines, whether or not you have VMware installed or even working. VMware disk mount is a very handy tool to understand and have in your tool belt.

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