How to recover a crashed VM

Last week it happened again, one of my virtual machines crashed. And I needed a way to repair the virtual machine or at least retrieve the files located on the virtual hard disk.

Important note: This is (probably) not supported and I can’t guarantee your virtual machine is recovered. Please only use this how-to as your last resort! It might help you 🙂

What happened?: When the virtual machine (VM) crashed it needed a forced shutdown. When restarting the VM it came back with Recovery mode. I wasn’t able to start Windows normally!

Solution: Within VirtualBox (I’m currently using Oracle VM VirtualBox), or any other virtualization software, you are able to mount multiple hard disks. You need to mount the hard disk of the crashed VM to another healthy VM (which works normally). Pay attention to snapshots, mount the latest snapshot! Start the healthy VM.

What happens?: The healthy VM will pick up the crashed hard disk and starts scanning and repairing the hard disk. After repairing Windows will start normally and you are able to browse the hard disk and retrieve your files.

If you are having a lucky day? You could try to shutdown the healthy VM. Unmount the hard disk (which was repaired). And try starting your crashed VM. Now you know whether you are really lucky! It might start!? Good luck!