ERROR: A disk read error occurred when starting virtual machine

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Symptoms

When you launching a virtual machine on Parallels Desktop, you receive a disk read error message:

Cause

Windows installation on this virtual machine is corrupted. This could be caused by improperly shutting down the VM.

Resolution

  1. Open Time Machine and restore the 'Windows_name.pvm' file (see location below). If you don't have a backup, follow the steps below.

  2. Check if the virtual machine is mounting with Parallels Mounter.

    • Locate the 'Windows_name.pvm' file. It is usually located in one of the following directories:

      /username/Documents/Parallels/  
      /Users/Shared/Parallels/
      
    • Right-click the .pvm file and choose Open With > Parallels Mounter.

    • If the VM mounts, find the largest .hds file, copy it to .pvm folder and change extension to .hdd (you may rename file to make it easy to read) in order to restore the data which is not corrupted.
  3. If the virtual machine cannot be mounted, it means the whole virtual hard disk and its file system are corrupted. You can try to restore Windows by following the Windows recovery guidance:

    • Recover using Windows CD/DVD/ISO:

    • Create a new virtual machine from scratch and try to connect the virtual hard drive of the corrupted VM to the fresh one:
      • Go to Configuration of the new virtual machine > Hardware > click '+' in the bottom-left corner of the window and add the existing hdd file. Put the location path into the dialog window that appears.
  4. In addition, you may use one of the third-party file recovery applicationsfor instance TestDisk (free) or DMDE (free trial).

Note: The applications above are just examples of the possible recovery applications which can be used. In case if you have any difficulties using those applications, please contact the support team of each application separately.

If none of the above solutions help, the virtual machine cannot be restored and you need to create a completely new virtual machine in order to continue running Windows on your Mac. We suggest that you make backups of the .pvm file regularly in order to prevent data loss.

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