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VMware Expand Virtual Disk and Virtual Machine System Partition

As with physical machines, virtual machines created with VMware may eventually run out of available disk space. On a physical machine, the solution to solve low disk space warning is to add more disks and use ghosting software to transfer the data, or use Partition Magic Software to resize and move existing partition. On a given VMware virtual machine, you can also add additional virtual disks, but if you do not want to do that, you can instead expand VMware virtual disk. This is something you cannot do with physical disks.

How to expand VMware virtual disk?

Generally, there are two ways to expand a virtual disk in VMware. The procedure for expanding a virtual disk differs between VMware products. Follow the section below that matches your product.

  • For VMware Workstation, Player 3.x, ACE Manager, Server and GSX, you can increase VMware virtual disk size with built-in command line called vmware-vdiskmanager which has the ability to expand a virtual disk from the command line or within scripts so its maximum capacity is larger than it was when you created it. Learn more: how to increase the size of virtual disk with vmware-vdiskmanager.
  • If you are using VMware Workstation 7 and later and Player 3.x and later, you can expand VMware virtual disk from GUI.

Caution: we recommend that you back up your virtual machine before expanding VMware disk.

Confirm the following before expand virtual disk in VMware:

  • All snapshots have been removed.
  • The virtual machine is powered off.

1: Click on "Edit virtual machine settings" and select the hard disk you want to expand.

2: In this example, the initial size of the virtual disk is 15GB, and we will expand it to 20GB from VMware Workstation 7 GUI.

3: Click on the drop down arrow mark in "Utilities" button and select "Expand…". Fill in 20GB and click "Expand".

4: Once expansion progress is completed, then changes will appear in virtual machine settings.

That’s it, successfully expand virtual disk in VMware Workstation without adding extra virtual disks. As it prompts: "The disk was successfully expanded. You must repartition the disk and expand the file systems from within the guest operating system". Your existing partitions will remain in the old size and needed to be repartitioned. The additionally added 5GB space can be seen as an unallocated space in Disk Management.

How to add unallocated space into existing partition?

As Partition Magic Software, Partition Assistant has the ability to resize and move partition in VMware. The procedure for adding unallocated space into partition differs between your configurations. Follow the section below that matches your configuration.

  1. The virtual disk is initially configured as only a single system partition (C: drive), e.g. [C: drive][5GB unallocated space].
    • If the guest operating system is Windows 2000 or XP or 2003, in order to expand system partition C: drive, please follow this tutorial: Extend C drive into contiguous unallocated space.
    • If the guest operating system is Windows 8 or 7 or Vista or 2008, you can add unallocated space into C: drive with Disk Management snap-in. Right click C drive and select "Extend Volume".
  2. The virtual disk is initially configured as more than one partition, e.g. [C: drive][D: drive][5GB unallocated space], in order to expand system partition C: drive, please follow this tutorial: how to merge unallocated space to C drive.

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