Parallels Desktop Hard Disk
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What is an HDD file?
An HDD file is a virtual hard disk created by Parallels Desktop for Mac virtualization software. It stores a virtual machine's hard drive data, including the programs and files on the virtual machine (VM). Parallels Desktop for Mac loads the HDD file when starting up a virtual machine.
Parallels Desktop for Mac is an application that can run Windows, Linux, Android, and additional versions of macOS on Macs. When you create a virtual machine with the software, it creates a .PVM file (or a .MACVM file on Apple silicon Macs), which is a macOS package that stores all of the files required to run the VM.
One of the files created by Parallels Desktop for Mac and stored in the .PVM file is the HDD file. The HDD file functions similarly to Windows C:\ drive.
To view your HDD file, locate your PVM file, right-click it, and choose Show Package Contents. The HDD file is typically named after the operating system. For example, the HDD file for Windows 11 may be named Windows 11-0.hdd.
NOTE: HDD files from version 2 of Parallels Desktop can be opened in Oracle VM VirtualBox. Other versions' HDD files cannot be opened in VirtualBox.
How to open an HDD file
Typically, HDD files are "opened" as part of initializing a Parallels Desktop virtual machine. However, you can manually open and examine the files contained within a Windows HDD file by mounting the file to your macOS machine using Parallels Mounter, a program included with Parallels Desktop. After you mount your HDD file, you'll be able to explore its contents in Finder.
To mount an HDD file to your macOS machine:
- Locate your HDD file in Finder.
- Right-click the file and select Open With → Parallels Mounter.
The volumes your HDD file contains will then appear in the Finder sidebar.