I backed up my .vdi files of some Ubuntu VMs and wanted to restore to a new computer. I thought that by using existing vdi files, I would be able to create a new VM or import it somehow to recreate the VM I had on my old computer. Doesn't turn out to be the case.

I'm on Virtualbox 6.0.8 and when I click Machine>New and go through all those steps and choose 'Use an existing virtual hard disk file' that points to my old VM's vdi, it would create a machine with a brand new install of Ubuntu. I can't access my old data anymore. If I'm using an existing vdi, shouldn't that mean I'm using all my old data to recreate this machine? What am I missing?

  • You didn't even read the post. I had Ubuntu VMs on my .vdi prior to moving them. I started it up on my new computer and it was a fresh install of Ubuntu.
    – Jumpman
    Jun 14, 2019 at 2:08

1 Answer 1


If you saved all of the files related to your virtual machines then you can recover your data. In VirtualBox, go to the ‘Machine’ menu and click on ‘add’ (the big green plus sign) or press Ctrl+A. Navigate to where your virtual machine files are and it will find the one with the ‘.vbox’ extension. Select it and everything will be put back just the way it was.

If you do not still have the ‘.vbox’ file and only have the ‘.vdi’ virtual hard drive, you can follow these instructions:

  • Create a folder where the virtual machine will go. On my system it’s ‘/home/VirtualBox VMs/’ and copy you ‘.vdi’ file into that.
  • Start VirtualBox and click ‘New’. Give it a name and select ‘Type’ and ‘Version’ then click next. Select memory size and click next again.
  • When you get to the Hard Disk window, click the radio button next to ‘Use an existing virtual hard disk file’ and then navigate to and select your ‘.vdi’ file. Click ‘Create’ enter image description here

At that point you should be good to go. Just click ‘Start’.

  • That's the thing I don't have the vbox file. Only the vdi. Aren't the vdi the hard disk of the VMs? I thought with just the vdi I should be able to have the machine running off it with all the old data.
    – Jumpman
    Jun 14, 2019 at 2:09

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