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How to convert an ISO file to VDI for VirtualBox on Windows 10

An operating system is normally distributed as an ISO file. The file can be used to install the OS that it’s for though you will need a license depending on the OS that you want to run. Although an ISO file has everything needed to install an operating system, VirtualBox can’t install an OS from it. It needs a different file format i.e., a VDI file. Here’s how you can convert an ISO file to VDI.

Convert ISO file to VDI

In order to convert an ISO file to a VDI file, you need to have VirtualBox installed on your system, and you need the ISO file that you’re going to convert. Once you’ve installed the app and downloaded the ISO, open File Explorer and navigate to the following location.

C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox

You need to open Command Prompt at this location. The easiest way to do that is to type CMD in the location bar, and tap Enter. In the Command Prompt window, you need to enter the following command. The command needs to be edited. Replace the “Complete-path-to-ISO-file” with the complete path to the ISO file you want to convert. Likewise, you need to replace “Complete-path-to-VDI-file” with where you want the output file to be saved.


VBoxManage convertfromraw --format VDI "Complete-path-to-ISO-file" "Complete-path-to-VDI-file"


VBoxManage convertfromraw --format VDI "D:\Test 100\ubuntu-14.10-desktop-amd64.iso" "D:\Test 100\ubuntu-14.10-desktop-amd64.vdi"

The command takes only a little time to run and when it completes, the VDI file will be created. The ISO file will still be intact. The command won’t replace it.

VirtualBox will now be able to read this file however, there is no guarantee that you will be able to install the OS to a virtual machine from the VDI file. This is because the ISO file itself needs to be bootable. The file must not be corrupt and you have to make sure the machine has the correct resources needed to install the operating system as a virtual machine.

Creating a virtual machine isn’t always straight forward and often getting your hands on an ISO file is the easy part. You might not have VirtualBox set up so that it can run the OS correctly, or the host OS might have its own limitations. This is often why users who are just learning to use VMs will go for pre-made VDI files. You don’t necessarily need to do but make sure you understand the settings that are required to run the OS as a virtual machine and tweak VirtualBox accordingly.

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