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Solved: How do I recover lost data files from virtual machine image file?

Virtual Machines are the most popular computing resource among businesses and users today due to their multiple benefits like easy maintenance, facility for multiple operating systems, independence from the physical systems, running programs, deploying apps, and more.

Each virtual Machine runs on its specific operating system and functions separately from the other VMs, and stores the Virtual Machine data safely using Virtual Hard Disk files. However, this data is vulnerable to risks of corruption and data loss due to users’ faults or unauthorized activities that lead to the loss of data from the Virtual Machine.

When corruption happens, it is difficult for users to load the Virtual Machine database file. In all these situations, the data needs to be recovered if it is crucial for the business. Before discussing the useful solution to recover lost data files from a Virtual Machine, let us know the significant potential reasons and causes of the data loss from the Virtual Machine.

Content Summary

Reasons Behind the Need to Recover data from Vmware Disk
Recover Lost Data from Virtual Machines Manually

Reasons Behind the Need to Recover data from Vmware Disk

Here we cover all the possible reasons for data loss from Virtual Machine:

  • Need to recover data from VMware disk because of intentionally or accidentally deleting the data.
  • Automatically shut down the computer machine or system.
  • Abrupt shutdown of machine or system
  • Corruption or vulnerability to risks.
  • Data gets deleted from VMware virtual machines due to corrupted index files.
  • A corrupted or damaged Hard Disk is also a reason for deleting files from the virtual hard drive.
  • Sometimes, users format their drive data, and during this process, the Virtual Machine’s main files also get removed.
  • Faulty Hypervisor
  • Formatting of drive
  • Corrupted RAID
  • Malfunction in hardware
  • Corrupted hard disk

Recover Lost Data from Virtual Machines Manually

Virtual Machines use the most popular file formats to store their data, such as VHD and VMDK files, but once these files are prone to corruption, damage, or other issues, which leads to data loss eventually.

  • VHD file stands for Virtual Hard Disk file that clones the data of a physical hard drive like files and folders inside disk volume partitions.
  • VMDK file stands for Virtual Machine Disk file. It is the container of Virtual Hard Disk drives used by virtual machines like VMware Workstation and VirtualBox.

This manual method is helpful for you to restore the lost data from the Virtual Machine easily using the web console if you have valid updated backup files.

Whenever a file is deleted from the Virtual Machine, it is no longer available for use but available for recovery unless its sectors are not overwritten with the new information. Apply the below method to recover deleted or lost data files from virtual hard drives manually.

Step 1: Create a new Virtual Server.

Step 2: Add a new hard drive to this server.

Step 3: Go to Settings and select the created hard disk.

Step 4: Browse the location of the corrupted VHD file.

Step 5: Click on the Virtual Disk wizard.

Step 6: Click on the Compact option.

Step 7: Select the option Convert it to a fixed-size Virtual Hard Disk.

Step 8: Rename the VHD file.

Step 9: Wait until the file compression process gets completed within some time.

Step 10: Copy this VHD file to the original server location.

Step 11: Mount the VHD file to its original server and check for the lost data.


The above methods allow you to recover data files from Virtual Machine, but there is no confirmation of data recovery successfully. Always keep your Virtual Machine data secure with regular backups and avoid any tension in the future.

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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