VHD file icon

VHD File Extension

Virtual PC Virtual Hard Disk

What is VHD file?

VHD is a file which contains a virtual image of a hard drive , used by Microsoft Windows Virtual PC. Single VHD file may contain all data stored on a physical hard drive, saved exactly in the same structure – partitions, system files, regular files and folders.

Possibilities resulting from VHD files

VHD files are usually used as discs of virtual machines, which enables to install and start multiple operating systems without necessity to possess several physical drives or separate computers. This enables many possibilities, e.g.: maintaining programs and applications in different environments. VHD files also enable to restore only chosen directories or a whole hard drive.

Brief history of VHD format

VHD format was created by Connectix company, bought in the year 2003 by Microsoft Corporation, which than created the Mircosoft Virtual PC product. Since 2005 Microsoft has deployed a free license for the VHD format. In the year 2012 certain upgrades were introduced, which were deployed as new format – VHDX.

Types of VHD files

VHD files can be identified in several types, which facilitates managing them. These are:

  • fixed hard disk image – has fixed size equal to the size the hard drive;
  • dynamic hard disk image – size of a file is equal to the size of files on the virtual drive and additionally size of file header;
  • differencing disc image - a separate file which operates under the condition that the current disc is the mother disc;
  • linked – contains only a link to a physical drive.

Programs which support VHD file extension

The following list contains programs grouped by 3 operating systems that support VHD files. VHD files can be encountered on all system platforms, including mobile, yet there is no guarantee each will properly support such files.

Updated: 04/12/2022

How to open file with VHD extension?

Problems with accessing VHD may be due to various reasons. Fortunately, most common problems with VHD files can be solved without in-depth IT knowledge, and most importantly, in a matter of minutes. We have prepared a listing of which will help you resolve your problems with VHD files.

Step 1. Download and install Microsoft Virtual Server

Install software to open VHD file The main and most frequent cause precluding users form opening VHD files is that no program that can handle VHD files is installed on user’s system. This one is an easy one. Select Microsoft Virtual Server or one of the recommended programs (for example, 7-Zip, VMware Workstation, Microsoft Virtual PC) and download it from appropriate source and install on your system. The full list of programs grouped by operating systems can be found above. If you want to download Microsoft Virtual Server installer in the most secured manner, we suggest you visit Microsoft Corporation website and download from their official repositories.

Step 2. Verify the you have the latest version of Microsoft Virtual Server

Update software that support file extension VHDYou still cannot access VHD files although Microsoft Virtual Server is installed on your system? Make sure that the software is up to date. It may also happen that software creators by updating their applications add compatibility with other, newer file formats. If you have an older version of Microsoft Virtual Server installed, it may not support VHD format. The latest version of Microsoft Virtual Server should support all file formats that where compatible with older versions of the software.

Step 3. Assign Microsoft Virtual Server to VHD files

If you have the latest version of Microsoft Virtual Server installed and the problem persists, select it as the default program to be used to manage VHD on your device. The method is quite simple and varies little across operating systems.

Associate software with VHD file on Windows

The procedure to change the default program in Windows

  • Clicking the VHD with right mouse button will bring a menu from which you should select the Open with option
  • Select Choose another app → More apps
  • To finalize the process, select Look for another app on this PC entry and using the file explorer select the Microsoft Virtual Server installation folder. Confirm by checking Always use this app to open VHD files box and clicking OK button.
Associate software with VHD file on Mac

The procedure to change the default program in Mac OS

  • From the drop-down menu, accessed by clicking the file with VHD extension, select Information
  • Find the Open with option – click the title if its hidden
  • Select Microsoft Virtual Server and click Change for all...
  • If you followed the previous steps a message should appear: This change will be applied to all files with VHD extension. Next, click the Continue button to finalize the process.

Step 4. Ensure that the VHD file is complete and free of errors

You closely followed the steps listed in points 1-3, but the problem is still present? You should check whether the file is a proper VHD file. Being unable to access the file can be related to various issues.

Check VHD file for viruses
1. The VHD may be infected with malware – make sure to scan it with an antivirus tool.

If the file is infected, the malware that resides in the VHD file hinders attempts to open it. It is advised to scan the system for viruses and malware as soon as possible or use an online antivirus scanner. If the VHD file is indeed infected follow the instructions below.

2. Verify that the VHD file’s structure is intact

Did you receive the VHD file in question from a different person? Ask him/her to send it one more time. It is possible that the file has not been properly copied to a data storage and is incomplete and therefore cannot be opened. When downloading the file with VHD extension from the internet an error may occurred resulting in incomplete file. Try downloading the file again.

3. Check if the user that you are logged as has administrative privileges.

Some files require elevated access rights to open them. Switch to an account that has required privileges and try opening the Virtual PC Virtual Hard Disk file again.

4. Make sure that the system has sufficient resources to run Microsoft Virtual Server

The operating systems may note enough free resources to run the application that support VHD files. Close all running programs and try opening the VHD file.

5. Ensure that you have the latest drivers and system updates and patches installed

Latest versions of programs and drivers may help you solve problems with Virtual PC Virtual Hard Disk files and ensure security of your device and operating system. Outdated drivers or software may have caused the inability to use a peripheral device needed to handle VHD files.

Do you want to help?

If you have additional information about the VHD file, we will be grateful if you share it with our users. To do this, use the form here and send us your information on VHD file.

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