How to Convert VMware Image to VirtualBox in Windows

If you are looking to move away from VMware to VirtualBox, you don’t have to reinstall everything in VirtualBox. Rather, you can convert VMware image to VirtualBox and import the guest OS. Here’s how you can do it.

VMware is quite popular when it comes to Windows Virtualization. In fact, I’ve seen many use the free VMware Player to dip their toes in Virtualization. However, when compared to VirtualBox, the biggest drawback of VMware Player is that it is very limited in terms of features. Even if you are willing to pay, you need an arm and a leg to purchase a VMware license.

That is where the VirtualBox comes into play. Not only VirtualBox is completely free but it is feature-rich. The downside is that VMware and VirtualBox use different image formats while creating the VirtualMachine. This means that if you want to migrate from VMware to VirtualBox, you first need to convert the virtual machine into OVA/OVF format and then import it in VirtualBox.

Though sounds complicated, it is very easy to do. Just follow the steps and you will be good.

Note: Before proceeding any further, make sure that the virtual machine you are trying to convert is completely powered off. The virtual machine SHOULD NOT be in the saved or paused state for the conversion to work.

Steps to Convert VMware to VirtualBox

As I said before, you need to convert the virtual machine to the OVA/OVF format in order to migrate from VMware to VirtualBox. The good thing is, VMware comes bundled with the OVF tool that lets you export VMX to OVF.

1. First, open File Explorer by press Win + E shortcut key. In the File Explorer, go to the following location.

VMware Player

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Player\OVFTool

VMware Workstation

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation\OVFTool
Convert vmware to virtualbox - ovftool

2. Once you are here, hold Shift key and right-click in the OVFTool folder. Now, select “Open PowerShell window here” or “Open Command Prompt window here” option.

Convert vmware to virtualbox - open powershell

3. In the PowerShell/Command Prompt window, execute the below command while replacing the dummy VMX path and OVF path.

You will find the VMX file in the virtual machine folder and you can save the exported OVF anywhere you want.

ovftool "D:\path\to\source.vmx" "D:\path\to\export.ovf"

4. Depending on the virtual machine size, it can take some time to convert VMX to OVF. Just wait patiently and it will be done in no time.

Note: If you receive the “failed to open disk” error, it is highly likely that your virtual machine did not shut down or power off properly.

5. Once the conversion is done, you will have the OVF in the destination location. All that’s left is importing it.

6. To do that, open VirtualBox and select the “File → Import Appliance” option.

7. An import wizard will open. Follow the wizard and VirtualBox will do all the heavy lifting to properly import the virtual machine.

Wrapping Up

As you can tell, converting from VMware to VirtualBox is fairly straightforward, even if you have to use the Command Prompt. As easy as it is, depending on the guest operating system and how you configured it, there might be times when the conversion will be successful but the import will fail. This is due to how both VMware and VirtualBox implement the OVF functionality.

If the import failed in VirtualBox, there is nothing much you can do unless you like to dig deep and don’t mind messing with a lot of settings and configurations. In those situations, it is better to fresh install the guest OS in VirtualBox.

Hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.

Related: How to check if your system supports Intel VT-X or AMD-V

3 thoughts on “How to Convert VMware Image to VirtualBox in Windows”

  1. Avatar for Mike B

    I converted a Win10 VMWare system used your instructions and imported it into VirtualBox 6.1. No errors were displayed but the resulting system doesn’t boot saying “FATAL: INT18: BOOT FAILURE”
    A bit more searching later suggested turning on UEFI. Unfortunately that results in a “No mapping found” error.
    Any other suggestions?

    1. Avatar for Alan H

      I was having the same issue with 6.1. It seems it was a bug that was partially corrected in 6.1.4:

      In order to make this work, I had to remove all controllers and add the converted disk image into Storage > “Controller: SATA”, and enable “System > Enable EFI (special OSes only)”

      After that, the “map: No mapping found.” error was gone, I typed “exit” and set up the default boot to the existing UEFI mapping.

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