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  • 1.  How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Aug 21, 2023 09:06 PM


    VMware not working--how do I extract a file from inside to continue working on it elsewhere?

    VMware stopped working on old Mac, so tried to migrate to new Mac but won’t work there either.


    Old: MacBook Air, OS X El Capitan, 10.11.6, 1.7 GHz, 8G, Intel Core i7,

    Windows XP Professional

    VMWare Fusion 8.1.1, license key: 154**-*****-*****-*****-****4

    Back up, via Time Machine, is on an external Seagate hard drive.

    VMware won’t open. Error message:

    “a disk read error occurred, Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart”.

    Restart didn't help. Tried going back to a backup of my hard drive with Time Machine. Still the same error message.


    New: MacBook Air, OS Ventura 13.4.1, 24G, Apple M2 chip (silicon)

    Did migration from old Mac. Downloaded and opened new VMware Fusion 13.

    Error message:

    “This virtual machine cannot be powered on because it requires the X86 machine architecture, which is incompatible with this Arm machine architecture host. See KB-B84273


    Goal 1: get my file out.

    Goal 2: get VMware running on either old or new Mac.


    Moderator note: License key has been modified.

  • 2.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Broadcom Employee
    Posted Aug 21, 2023 10:00 PM
    You shouldn’t post license keys here, you should edit your post and remove it,

  • 3.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Aug 21, 2023 11:40 PM

    As you've unfortunately discovered, time machine is not a reliable backup for virtual machines (in fact, the best practice is to exclude VM's from it's scope).  You'll need to use a separate backup solution for virtual machines (and not a cloud backup!).  I just copy mine over to an external drive manually when they're shut down (not running or suspended).

    You will not be able to run the old VM on a new ARM machine.  You'll have to build a new one from scratch.  If you do, I'd recommend using the Tech Preview and following the instructions in the unofficial guide to create a new Windows 11 ARM VM.

    In fact, that's a good option here.  Do that, and then once that's done, do the following:

    1) Make a backup of the old virtual machine

    2) Copy the old VM to the new machine (an external drive is fine as long as it's APFS format - NOT exFAT).

    3) In the new VM settings, pick 'add device'  then 'add existing hard drive' and point it to the old VM copy.  Choose 'Take away' when prompted. 

    4) Try to boot the new VM.  If the virtual disk isn't too corrupt, that will let you use Windows explorer to copy files from the old drive to the new one.  Once that's done, power it off and remove the old virtual disk in settings.

    If that doesn't work, then you'll need one of the big brains here that can help you try to rebuild the virtual disk file.

  • 4.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Aug 22, 2023 12:29 AM

    Just an FYI - the Windows 11 ARM virtual machine will be encrypted. Fusion will not let you add a hard drive to an encrypted VM.. In order to add the second hard drive once your Windows 11 ARM VM is installed, you'll have to:

    • Shut down the Windows 11 ARM VM.
    • In the VM's settings, remove the Trusted Platform Module device.
    • Again, in Settings, remove the VM encryption.
    • Add  a second hard disk to the configuration. When prompted, add a existing hard drive and point to the old VM copy. Choose to copy it to the new VM - that way you'll keep a pristine copy of the old VM.
    • Enable encryption on the VM after you have added the second hard drive. Choose "only the files required to support TPM" (partial encryption).
    • Add the TPM device back to the configuration.

    Now, power up your VM and see if you can repair and/or access the files on your old VM's disk.

    If you get all your files back, consider re-thinking your backup strategy. The Fusion documentation explicitly tells you to exclude VMs from Time Machine backups and to use an alternative method.  


  • 5.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Aug 22, 2023 03:55 PM

    From what I've found, you can add them, but not remove them (at least through the U).  What's really strange is that you can edit the VMX directly and just add and remove the lines without any problems at all.  So there's some odd code in the GUI that blanket checks 'if encrypted at all, don't let you do that' versus 'if fully encrypted'.

  • 6.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Feb 28, 2024 06:38 PM

    I have a Win11ARM (from Windows Insider download) on my MacBook Air M2 that now is inoperable. My last snapshot was yesterday morning, but I have some files on there I'd like to retrieve (created AFTER the snapshot). 

    1. will these instructions (the replies on this topic above) be a good solution?

    2. will the snapshot be helpful at all?

    3. I last "copied" the entire VM file (the big file) last week, so I suppose that may be another option?

    Lesson learned: more regular backups of my files needed!

  • 7.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Feb 28, 2024 08:24 PM

    Running Windows Insider carries a risk that Microsoft will do something on the Insider channel that you're running to mess things up. I recently had a beta channel VM that for some time (months!) would happily apply beta channel updates. Then for some reason it decided to upgrade itself to the 23H2 GA channel and I didn't catch that soon enough. I'm thankful that this VM was for experimental purposes so I don't back it up. I didn't have any data on it that I couldn't do without, so I rebuilt the VM.

    First, can you describe what's happening when you say that the VM is inoperable? Does it fail to boot? What is being displayed (if anything) when you try to boot?

    If it's not a Fusion error that's ocurring, you may be able to rescue the VM by more "traditional" means such as booting to recovery.

    You may be able to attach the "failing" VM's virtual disk at its current state to a new VM and extract files. I'd make a backup of that VM first to protect yourself before attempting that. 

  • 8.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Feb 28, 2024 08:55 PM

    It's the blue screen (Your PC/Device needs to be repaired/required device isn't connected) as shown in this image:



    I was able to build a new fresh VM and rescue the old VM by attaching the virtual disk and extract my files. YAY!

    I figure that ultimately, I need to permanently NOT use the Insider version, so I'll start work on re-installing and customizing the fresh install of W11-Arm "the correct way"  ...so I'm not going to spend much more time on troubleshooting the old machine...other than to report here: I was able to use the snapshot and roll it back, so I can see and work in the state as it was yesterday morning. So that's helpful to know how the snapshot works in this scenario.  Grateful for the help here and happy to provide more detail if it's helpful!



  • 9.  RE: How do I extract my files from inoperable VMware?

    Posted Feb 28, 2024 10:39 PM

    Not to say that Windows Insider versions can't be used. In my opinion, though, there's a more predictable and stable environment from running the GA/Retail builds. 

    If you're looking to troubleshoot that VM, consider using the Windows 11 ARM installation ISO you downloaded to create the new VM and boot the old VM using that media to access the recovery environment. Perhaps that can fix what's wrong.