How to resolve "This virtual machine appears to be in use" error in VMware Workstation

Posted by Paul Braren on Apr 7 2014 (updated on Jun 23 2022) in
  • HowTo
  • Workstation
  • Virtualization
  • Way back in 2008, Jason asked the VMware Community this question:

    Greetings...  Recently I experienced a power failure at my office when I was running two different virtual machines.  Upon restarting, I am unable to connect to the machines as VMWare tells me "This virutal machine appears to be in use."  If I press the "Take Ownership" button, it immediantely returns with a dialog box indicating "Taking ownership of this virtual machine failed."  How do I unlock these machines?

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    Strangely enough, even though it's 6 years later, with VMware Workstation 10, the answer is still the same. As community moderator wila states:

    1. close VMware Workstation
    2. delete any .lck or .lock files and/or folders you see, in the directory of the problematic VM
    3. run VMware Workstation
    4. start the VM

    If you need further convincing the fix is that simple, see also my short video that demonstrates the fix. It'd seem that VMware would address this issue with a better recovery technique, given it's an error I've seen occasionally for many years myself. But hey, at least the fix is well documented!

    Aug 26 2015 Update

    This issue already bit me once on Windows 10 and VMware Workstation 12, and the same fix worked just fine.

    Sep 29 2016 Update

    This issue still persists, but good news, fix above still works, even right through the latest VMware Workstation 12.5! See Ruud van Zundert's comment below.

    Mar 09 2018 Update

    This fix apparently still works with VMware Workstation 14, see also release notes. The latest point release is 14.1.1.

    Mar 20 2018 Update

    This comment was left below that helps confirm this fix still works with Workstation 14. Thank you, Oh.Y.Not!

    Feb 01 2020 Update

    This comment indicates it still work in 15.x, so perhaps that means the latest 15.5 too. There are earlier comments about success with 15.0 and 15.1 too.

    Jun 23 2022 Update

    In early 2022, Ammon Bingham commented below:
    Still works, using VMware 16.2.2