What Is a VHDX File?

How to Open, Edit, and Convert VHDX Files

VHDX Files
VHDX Files.

A file with the VHDX file extension is a Windows 8 Virtual Hard Drive file. It acts as a real, physical hard drive but is stored in a single file that's located on a physical disk like a hard drive. One can be created from scratch or from backup software like Disk2vhd.

VHDX files can contain an entire operating system for purposes such as testing software or running older or newer software not compatible with the host operating system, or simply to hold files like any other storage container.

Note: VHDX files differ from VHD (Virtual PC Virtual Hard Disk) files in that they can be larger than 2 TB (up to 64 TB), can withstand power failure events, and provide performance enhancements.

How to Open a VHDX File

Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012 can open VHDX (and VHD) files really quickly without the need for you to download any programs or tools. Just right-click the VHDX file and choose the Mount option.

Another way to open a VHDX file is through Disk Management via the Action > Attach VHD menu. See How to Open Disk Management if you're not sure how to get there.

If you go the second route through Disk Management, you can optionally open the VHDX file in read-only mode by checking that option before you open the file. This will let you read data off the VHDX file but won't let you or any program write information to it, which is useful if you're concerned that the host computer is infected with malware.

Tip: You can eject, or close down a VHDX file through Windows Explorer by just right-clicking the mounted virtual hard drive and choosing Eject. It can also be done through Disk Management; right-click the disk number (e.g. Disk 1) and click or tap Detach VHD.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the VHDX file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open VHDX files, see my How to Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How to Convert a VHDX File

Hyper-V Manager is built-in to Windows and can convert VHDX to VHD. See this tutorial for instructions on enabling Hyper-V Manager and converting the VHDX file. The idea is to install the program through the Windows Feature section of Control Panel.

You might also be able to use PowerShell to convert VHDX to VHD. See this tutorial on Convert-VHD for more information.

StarWind V2V Converter can convert VHD files to VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) for use in the VMWare Workstation program. You can make it a growable image file or one that has a pre-set size. You can also use this program to convert the VHD file to IMG or another VHD file that's growable or has a pre-allocated size.

If your need your VHDX file to be a VDI file (VirtualBox Virtual Disk Image) to work with VirtualBox, install the VirtualBox program and then run this command:

VBoxManage.exe clonehd "I:\Windows XP.vhd" I:\WindowsXP.vdi --format vdi

As you can see, the syntax needs to be like this, where you change the bold text to fit your own files:

VBoxManage.exe clonehd "location-of-the-VHDX-file.vhdx" where-to-save-the-file.vdi --format vdi

To convert VHDX to ISO isn't very helpful since an ISO file is normally stored on a CD for booting purposes, and putting the VHDX content in that format would be unnecessary.

However, for storage purposes, you can convert the file to ISO by first convert the VHDX file to IMG using the method above, and then using IMG to ISO to complete the conversion.

Is Your File Still Not Opening?

Double-check the file extension if your file doesn't work with the programs mentioned above. Chances are that you're misreading the file extension and it really reads something similar to "VHDX" but not exactly like it.

For example, a VHDL file looks like it says VHDX but it's really unrelated and can not open with the VHDX openers and converters from above. VHDL files are actually VHDL Source files that can open in a text editor like Notepad++.

Like mentioned above, another similar file format to VHDX is VMDK, but instead of Windows using this format natively, you can open the file with VMWare Workstation.

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