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How to convert VirtualBox VDI to VMware VMDK disks

December 10, 2013 | Posted in How to

Conversion method 1: VBoxManage

We have used VBoxManage to clone VirtualBox disks. The method here is identical, except that we will be converting to a different disk format. Let's see how this is done.

VBoxManage clonehd source.vdi target.vmdk --format VMDK

Where source is your VirtualBox disk, target is your VMware disk and --format VMDK is the desired output format. Similarly, you can go the other way around, using VMDK as your source and VDI as your target. Make sure to specify the right disk format. VBoxManage clonehd function supports other formats as well.

See example:

Again, using an external disk for storing virtual machines can reduce the performance penalty due to massive I/O. You can read more about optimizing virtual machine usage in my virtualization tips guide.

Let it run.


Once the procedure is successfully completed, create a new virtual machine in a VMware product and use the new disk as your storage.

You have quite a bit of leeway. I have converted a VirtualBox machine that was installed on a different machine, running a quad-core Intel processor, and deployed the VMware disk on a machine equipped with a dual-core Intel processor one generation behind. VirtualBox Guest Addons were installed in the guest operating system. Moreover, I let the VMware machine use PAE extension, whereas I disabled this feature in VirtualBox. Furthermore, I changed the disk controller from IDE to SCSI in the VMware machine settings and it still worked fairly well, with only a minor inconvenience of installing new hardware drivers on the machine startup. So you have a large margin for error and can be flexible about your conversions.

As to which machines and software I used ...

The so-called source host was my newest HP Pavilion dv6-2130ej laptop with the i5 processor, running Ubuntu 10.04. The target host was my somewhat older but still new and powerful LG RD510 laptop, with the Core 2 Duo P7450 processor, also running Ubuntu 10.04 and equipped with both VirtualBox and the spectacular VMware Workstation.

P.S., on a side note, the Workstation installed flawlessly on Lucid Lynx, even more smoothly than it did on openSUSE 11.2. Compared to the fairly complex and difficult VMware Server setup on Ubuntu, this is an extremely impressive result.

The Workstation (and possibly other products) may ask you to convert the virtual machine to the latest version of the VMware series. You can accept this, but you should not if you intend to use it with older products.

Let us see what gives.

Taged in: convert, disks, virtualbox, VMware