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Summary: VMDK files store data for virtual machines but can become corrupted, leading to data loss. Manual recovery methods are complex, making third-party software like Kernel VMDK Recovery a reliable solution for efficient data retrieval.

Virtual Disk Image Files (VMDK) are utilized to store data for use in virtual machines such as VMware Workstation, QEMU, VirtualBox, and more. These files are commonly employed in cloud computing and virtualization environments. In essence, VMDK serves as a direct rival to the MS VHD file format.

Similar to VHD files, VMDK files are susceptible to corruption, and the process of recovering a corrupted VMDK file can be quite complex. Since VMDK files contain the entire data of a disk, any errors during the recovery process can result in data loss. Therefore, the recovery of corrupt VMDK files is essential to safeguarding the integrity of the entire disk data.

When it comes to selecting a recovery method for corrupt VMDK files, there are limited options available. However, it is possible to attempt a basic VMDK file repair using manual methods.

Reasons for VMDK Corruption

  • Due to virus/malware that is present in your system or enters via any external source
  • Due to immediate termination of VMDK files without saving it properly
  • Immediate system shutdown, which often damages opened files

Methods to Repair Corrupt VMDK Files

If you find yourself unable to access the data within your VMDK file for the first time, there are some basic repair techniques that can potentially resolve this issue. Before delving into the detailed process of performing basic VMDK file recovery, it’s important to have an understanding of how these files are structured and composed.

A VMDK file is basically a combination of two types of files, which include VMDK and *-flat.vmdk. The VMDK file works as a plain text pointer for the *-flat.vmdk. The (*) denotes the VM server’s name.

Basic VMDK File Repairing Methods

1st Method: Restore VMDK File by Booting the Machine

If you’re unable to access VMDK files from Windows for the first time, then there are some basic repairing tips that can help you resolve this problem. Here is the detailed process to perform basic VMDK file recovery.

A VMDK file is essentially composed of two types of files: the main VMDK file and the *-flat.vmdk file. The VMDK file serves as a plain text pointer for the -flat.vmdk file, with the asterisk () representing the VM server’s name. When a VMDK file or VM server becomes corrupted, it can lead to the Virtual Machine failing to start. In such instances, the following steps can assist you in repairing a corrupt VMDK file.

  • Create a backup copy of the original VMDK file.
  • Now, make a copy of the pointer file with a different VM to your system.
  • Make the required modifications to the fields and save the changes.
  • Boot the virtual machine to repair the VMDK file.

Indeed, while the process may appear straightforward, one of the most challenging aspects is accurately determining the values for Cylinders, Heads, and Sectors that match the size of the *-flat.vmdk file. Many users, especially beginners, often struggle to recover their VMDK files using this method and may wonder how to proceed with the recovery process.

Well, there is another method to recover the VMDK file using command prompt in the Windows operating system.

2nd Method: Use Command Prompt in Windows

Utilizing the Command Prompt is indeed a valuable technique for recovering VMDK files, but it is generally more suitable for users who are comfortable with command-line operations. However, even if you are a beginner, you can attempt to recover VMDK files using this method by following the steps outlined below.

  • Open the command prompt by pressing Window + R and enter cmd.
  • Now, go to the location of local installation of your VMware Dev kit.
  • Use this command in the cmd “vmware-vsdiskmanager.exe” – R “the fully qualified path to your corrupt VMDK.”
  • After typing the command hit Enter.

While the manual methods and Command Prompt approach can be used to attempt VMDK file recovery, they do have their limitations and may not always guarantee a successful recovery. For a secure and reliable solution to this problem, using third-party VMDK recovery software is often recommended. These specialized tools are designed to handle VMDK file recovery more efficiently and effectively, making the process simpler and increasing the chances of a successful recovery.

Kernel VMDK Recovery

Kernel VMDK Recovery appears to be a promising utility for recovering corrupt VMDK files. It’s advantageous in its ability to recover various types of VMDK files, whether they were created by VMware Workstation or VirtualBox. Additionally, its built-in “Find” feature allows users to search for specific file types within the file system. The software offers customization options, such as specifying the number of sectors to be read in a single scan. Furthermore, it provides options to overwrite, rename, skip, and include or exclude duplicate files during the recovery process.

For a clear understanding of how this software works, you can refer to the software’s documentation or user manual, which should provide step-by-step instructions and guidance on using the tool to recover your corrupt VMDK files effectively.

  1. Download and install the software on your system.
  2. After launching the tool, click the Browse button, select the desired VMDK file, and click Recover.Launch Kernel VMDK Recovery
  3. The details of the VMDK file will be displayed on the tool screen. Select the drive that you want to open and preview and click Next.Display VMDK file
  4. Select an option from the following partition types and click OK.Select VMDK file
  5. Select the specific partition, file system, and provide the Start Sector and End Sector and click Scan.Select the specific partition
  6. You can view the scanning process of the tool while recovering the corrupt VMDK file. You can click Hide Progress to improve the scanning speed.scanning process of the tool
  7. Once the scanning is complete, select the desired file system to recover and click the desired file system to recover VMDK file
  8. The entire data of the selected file system will be displayed on the screen. You can preview any folder by selecting it.Preview of the file
  9. Note: If you want to save a snapshot of the scanning process, you can accomplish it by clicking Save Snapshot.

  10. Now, to recover VMDK files, select the required folder(s) and files in the tree structure and click Recover.
  11. Note: To search any specific file, use the Find option to find files by their name pattern.

  12. Select a specific location to save the file and click OK.Select a specific location to save the file
  13. Once the files are saved, a notification will be displayed on the screen. Click OK to end the process.Saving filesNote: There are some other recovery options with the tool that you can use to recover the VMDK file, such as:
    Check recovery settings
    Using Kernel VMDK Recovery, you can quickly retrieve the entire data of VMDK files of any VMware Workstations and VirtualBox.


Indeed, for organizations that rely on VMware Workstations and VirtualBox for their daily operations, the data within VMDK files is crucial, and corruption can pose significant challenges. Manual recovery methods may not always be practical or effective. However, software solutions like Kernel VMDK Recovery offer a convenient and reliable way to recover the entire data from VMDK files, ensuring that organizations can regain access to their valuable data without extensive technical expertise or manual interventions. It can be a valuable tool for data recovery and ensuring business continuity.

Video – Free Methods To Repair Corrupt And Damaged VMDK File


Kernel for VMDK Recovery