VMWare Writelock Disk Error

VMWare is virtual machine software that lets you run a guest operating system inside your operating system without having to reboot your computer. This article covers an error that can happen which prevents VMWare from starting up in the event of a crash. Note that I have only had experience with this error on Linux systems, and it no longer appears to be an issue with VMWare Workstation 4.5 and greater.

When starting VMWare, you may receive the following errors if it crashed (or your system crashed) while you were using it:

“Unable to open either the disk ‘win98se-0.vmdk’ or the redo log”

“Failed to configure disk ide0:0. The virtual machine cannot be powered on with an unconfigured disk.”

This means VMWare was shut down without powering down the virtual machine and left behind some files which lock the virtual disk files. To fix it, you need to delete any of the write lock files which are named .WRITELOCK in the Virtual Machine directory.

This is a sample listing of a VMWare virtual disk directory:

-rw------- 1 chris users 18664 2004-03-22 10:45 nvram
-rw-r--r-- 1 chris users 11549 2004-03-23 09:33 vmware.log
-rw------- 1 chris users 575340544 2004-03-22 17:27 win98se-0-s001.vmdk
-rw------- 1 chris users 65536 2004-03-22 10:45 win98se-0-s002.vmdk
-rw------- 1 chris users 389 2004-03-22 10:47 win98se-0.vmdk
-r--r--r-- 1 chris users 11 2004-03-18 09:07 win98se-0.vmdk.WRITELOCK
-rw------- 1 chris users 397 2003-12-15 19:08 win98se.vmdk
-rwxr-xr-x 1 chris users 1558 2004-02-09 10:29 win98se.vmx
-r--r--r-- 1 chris users 11 2004-03-18 09:07 win98se.vmx.WRITELOCK

In this example you would delete the write lock files named

win98se-0.vmdk.WRITELOCK

and

win98se.vmx.WRITELOCK

then power up the virtual machine again.

Since upgrading to the 4.5 branch of VMWare I have no longer experienced this problem.

Please also refer to this post on the VMWare message boards for another reason for getting this message and a possible solution.