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Force Remove VMware Tools and Manual Clean Up

I created a Windows 7 virtual machine in VMware Player, ran it for a while on my Windows notebook, and then decided to move it to one of my Ubuntu machines and host it in VirtualBox. I had no problem copying the folder and files between the different host based hypervisors. VirtualBox can use a virtual disk in the VMware .vmdk format so it was just a matter of file transfers between computers. VirtualBox has it’s own Guest Editions (or host tools) to add functionality and improve performance, so I needed to make that switch inside the VM too. My problem was that I did not remove the VMware Tools before I moved the VM.

When I went to uninstall VMware Tools after powering the VM on Ubuntu and in VirtualBox I received a message that “no VMware Products were detected”. Luckily, I quickly figured out I wasn’t the first to attempt this move and experience this hurdle. The post Uninstalling VMware tools when not running on a VMware host tells the same tale and provides the answer.

“I added the VMware Tools ISO to that VM and opened a command prompt. Then I found the “setup.exe” or “setup64.exe” files on the cd. Run those in the cmd window with a /c switch. (example:  ”setup64.exe /c” )  This will remove the Tools.  I installed the VirtualBox additions and then reboot.  On my Windows 2008 server it crashed on first reboot, then then I tried again and it loaded up just fine.  Network works and everything! Yay!”

On my Windows host with VMware Player installed (VMware Workstation has a similar location) the windows.iso file was found at C:\program files(x86)\VMware\VMware Player\windows.iso. Your path needs to be adjusted based on whether you have a 32 bit or 64 bit OS obviously. Mine was a 64 bit host even though the directory was at c:\program files(x86), by the way.

I’ll let you figure out your preferred method on how to copy the windows.iso file to the Ubuntu host, but once you do you can:

  1. mount the .iso in the virtual CDrom of the VM in VirtualBox.
  2. Use the command prompt to start the appropriate setup.exe file with the /c or /clean switch

The /c or /clean  switch forces the uninstall of VMware Tools on Vmware Player.

I ran it like so:

>setup64.exe /c

and got the following message before clicking OK.

If you are a stickler for a completely clean removal of the tools check out the following VMware KB article for how to manually remove the tools and even clean the registry afterwards. The KB Article also has a script attached to it to help automate the process

Cleaning up after an incomplete uninstallation on a Windows host

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  • VMWare_Migrator

    This solution does not work if you are running Virtual Box on Windows. When you run “setup /c” you will get “VMWare tools should only be installed inside a virtual machine” and then the installer will prematurely terminate.

    This is a very painful issue. It took me a long time to migrate this VM and I don't want to start over just to uninstall VMWare tools.

    • Ms Trist


      this solution works for me fine. Host is Windows 7 and Guest is Windows 2008 R2.

      Thanks for the information

    • Ms Trist


      this solution works for me fine. Host is Windows 7 and Guest is Windows 2008 R2.

      Thanks for the information

      • rbrambley

        Thanks Ms Twist!

      • rbrambley

        Thanks Ms Twist!

  • rbrambley

    Thanks for the information. I guess the best scenario is to remember
    to uninstall the tools before moving the VM. Tough to do I know.

  • vibram

    “Well ,your details is really reasonable and you guy give us valuable informative post. I actually love playing various sports and I believe only sports can make you energetic. I like this forum because I learned so much knowledge in here,and there are all kinds of newest news to us
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  • Remove Spyware

    I'm using VM. That's very difficult for me to remove it, for it has too many components. But now, thanks for your sharing! I'm released!

  • Guest

    The KB Article also has a script attached to it to help automate the process

    • rbrambley

      Thanks for pointing out the script

      Rich Brambley
      VCP4, vExpert, VTSP, VSP, MCSE
      Senior Systems Engineer, Veeam Software

      Twitter: @rbrambley

      Sent from my iPad

  • Midway

    Thank you, works great, well done.

    • rbrambley

      Great to hear! Thanks for reading

      Sent from my iPad

  • Ali Fakoor

    What if setup.exe is not available in your version [or it does not accept the /c parameter for forcefully cleaning]? Here is a solution:

    Run these commands at an (elevated) command prompt:
    sc delete vmmouse
    sc delete VMMEMCTL
    sc delete VMX_svga
    sc delete VMTOOLS
    sc delete “VMWare Physical Disk Helper Servive”

    Now reboot the system and then remove the instllation entries using the windows installer cleanup utility ( [NOTE: This tools was originally available from microsoft website, but was removed due to some issues, see:

    Afterwards you can manually remove the installed program files of the VMWare Tools.

    Hope that helps someone [in future]

    • rbrambley


      Thanks for the tip!



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