How to Compact Virtual Drives in VMware Workstation Player

Whenever I have to try a new and unknown software, I first run it inside a virtual machine. This way I can avoid the changes made by that software on my actual Windows PC. It is much quicker than testing that software on a completely different computer.

I use both VirtualBox and VMware Workstation Player (both are freeware) for running software inside a multitude of operating systems. When using VMware Workstation Player, sometimes the virtual hard drives grows very large even though the used space inside the virtual machine is much less. These virtual hard drives can be easily compacted to reclaim the unused space.

This is how you can quickly compact the virtual hard drives associated with virtual machines in VMware Workstation Player:

  1. Launch VMware Workstation Player and select a virtual machine from the list for which you want to compact the virtual hard drive.
  2. Click on the Edit virtual machine settings. Compact Disks in VMware Workstation Player
  3. Select the hard drive attached to the virtual machine from the list under the Hardware tab. Usually there is only one virtual hard drive, but there could be more than one virtual hard drive attached to the same virtual machine. if there are many virtual hard drives, then you have pick them one at a time.
  4. Click on the Compact button and confirm to proceed with the compacting the selected virtual hard drive.Compact Disks in VMware Workstation Player
  5. It may take many minutes depending on the size of the virtual hard drive and the type of file system. When it has finished compacting the drive, you will be shown a message to the effect.Compact Disks in VMware Workstation Player

In my experience, the compacting tool works best with the NTFS filesystems meant to be used with the Windows guest systems. I have tried it with Linux and macOS guest systems too, but the virtual hard drives are compacted much more for the Windows guest only.