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Changing a monolithic disk to a split disk in VMware Workstation (2006898)

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This article provides the steps to change a monolithic disk (a virtual machine disk contained in a single file) into to a split disk (a virtual machine disk split into 2GB files) in VMware Workstation.


To change from a monolithic disk to a split disk, you must copy the virtual disk data from the monolithic disk to a new split disk. After copying the data, you must then associate the virtual machine with the new split disk. You may then delete the old monolithic disk.


  • Ensure that you know where your virtual disk is stored. To determine this location, go to VM > Settings, click the Hardware tab, and select your hard disk. The disk file is listed at the top, on the right side. If no path is provided, then the virtual disk is in the same directory as the configuration file. This location is shown when you mouse over the virtual machine in the Library, and on the virtual machine's tab when it is selected.

  • Ensure that the virtual disk being changed does not have any snapshots associated with it. Delete or commit any snapshots before proceeding. For more information, see Working with snapshots (1009402).

  • Ensure that you have enough free disk space to save the new, split disk. The new, split disk takes approximately the same amount of space as the old, monolithic disk.

    Example: If the original disk is 20GB in size, then the new disk requires an additional 20 GB of free space.

    The new disk does not have to be stored on the same drive as the old disk.

To copy a monolithic disk into a split disk:

  1. Power off the virtual machine.
  2. Open a command prompt with Administrative privileges. For more information, see Opening a command or shell prompt (1003892).


    • In Windows Vista and later, you may have to hold Ctrl+Shift and select Run as administrator.
    • In Linux, enter su after opening the prompt, then enter your password when prompted.

  3. Change to the VMware Workstation program directory. By default, this directory is:

    • Windows XP: \Program Files\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Vista/7/8/10, 32-bit: Program Files\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Vista/7/8/10/Server 2012, 64-bit: Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Linux: /usr/bin/

  4. Run this command to convert the monolithic virtual disk to a split virtual disk:

    vmware-vdiskmanager.exe -r <filepath of original disk> -t 1 <filepath of new disk>


    -r introduces the original/source disk, which you must supply in full, including the name
    -t introduces the new/target disk, which you must supply in full, including a new name
    1 refers to the virtual disk type

    Note: There are several available disk types:

    • 0: A growable virtual disk contained in a single file (called "monolithic sparse").
    • 1: A growable virtual disk split into 2GB files (called "split sparse").
    • 2: A preallocated virtual disk contained in a single file (called "monolithic flat").
    • 3: A preallocated virtual disk split into 2GB files (called "split flat").

    For more information, see the Virtual Disk Manager User's Guide.

    Example: This command creates a virtual disk called ubuntu2, in the same directory as the original virtual disk.

    vmware-vdiskmanager –r "C:\Virtual Machines\ubuntu.vmdk" –t 1 "C:\Virtual Machines\ubuntu2.vmdk"

    Note: If the original disk (in our example, ubuntu.vmdk) is more than 2GB in size, this command actually creates multiple.vmdk files, all of whose names begin with the new virtual disk's name (in our example, ubuntu2). The command creates multiple files because it creates a virtual disk that is split into files that are each no more than 2GB in size. For more information, see the Virtual Machine Files section of Using VMware Workstation.

After creating the new virtual disk, you must configure the virtual machine to use it. For more information, see the Add an Existing Virtual Hard Disk to a Virtual Machine section of Using VMware Workstation.

Additional Information

This article covers a subset of the information from the Virtual Disk Manager User's Guide.

See Also

Update History

02/12/2014 - Updated for Workstation 11.x

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