How to Convert Virtual Machines from VMware to VirtualBox

Virtual machines are useful in many ways. You can use them to try out new operating systems, test experimental software, run older applications, etc. Two of the most widely held virtual machine software are VMware and VirtualBox. Each has its own pros and cons, but the best thing is that you can easily switch your virtual machines between them: convert VMware to VirtualBox and vice versa. You’ll never have to restructure the same virtual machine in a different software ever again.

Good to know: Can’t decide between VMware and VirtualBox? Learn which is the best virtualization software 2024 for you.

Migrate from VMware to VirtualBox

Before beginning the migration process, make sure that the virtual machine you want to export is completely powered off and not in a “suspended” state. This applies to both VMware and VirtualBox. You will have to convert your VMware virtual machine file (.vmx) to an “.ovf” file. OVF is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual machines and is supported by both VirtualBox and VMware.

Export your desired VMware virtual machine file to an”.ovf file by opening your VMware directory and the OVFTool folder. Press Shift + right-click, then click Open PowerShell window here.

Migrate from VMware to VirtualBox

Use the below command, and press Enter in the PowerShell window. Change the path of the .vmx file you want to export and the destination for the new .ovf file, based on the respective paths in your system.

ovftool “F:\Setups\kali-linux-2023.2-vmware-amd64\kali-linux-2023.2-vmware-amd64.vmwarevm\kali-linux-2023.2-vmware-amd64.vmx” f:\Exported\KaliLinux.ovf

As soon as you execute the command, the system will start writing the OVF package to the marked destination. Depending on the size of the VM, it can take a few minutes to complete.

Also Read: Installing Proxmox VE 8.1 on VMware Workstation 17

Migrate from VMware to VirtualBox using powershell

Note: if you are using the paid version (i.e., VMware Workstation Pro), you can also export the VM as an OVF file by navigating to File and then selecting Export to OVF. Just enter the name and the path for the OVF file, and you’re done.

Now that you’ve successfully exported the OVF package to your desired location, launch VirtualBox, and click Import or File -> Import Appliance.

In the Import Virtual Appliance window, click the browse button, select the exported OVF file, and click Next.

export to ovf in virtualbox

The next screen shows the Appliance settings. VirtualBox will show you all the VM settings. Leave them as is; you can always change them later. Click on Finish to continue.

import virtual appliance in virtualbox

The import process will take some time to complete. Once the import is complete, your imported virtual machine will be in the VM VirtualBox Manager. Select the VM, and click Start to power on the VM.

vm virtualbox manager

You’ve successfully converted your VM from VMware to VirtualBox.

Troubleshooting Import Errors in VirtualBox

If you are receiving importing errors, follow the steps below.

  • Open the exported OVF file in Notepad, find all instances of “ElementName,” and replace it with “Caption.”
  • Find the “vmware.sata.ahci” instance, and substitute it with “AHCI.”
  • Find the SHA1 hash value of the exported OVF file using this online tool, and replace the old hash value with the new one found in the exported file. You can open it with any text editor.

Once you are done with the changes, try importing again. This should solve the import errors. If not, you should probably start the above VMware to VirtualBox converter process from scratch.

Also Read: Introduction to Proxmox VE 8.1 – Part 1


Both VMware and VirtualBox are excellent virtualization tools for Windows users. Depending on your preferences, you can use either of them to try different operating systems or run risky software. You can easily export your favorite VMs – convert VMware to VirtualBox.


How to Convert Virtual Machines from VMware to VirtualBox and Vice Versa

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