How to Fix: VMWare 'Taking ownership of this virtual machine failed' Error

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Paul K. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

We use VMWare Workstation 14 at work as the hypervisor for a number of virtual machines that run on our server. A few days ago we lost power on the server while our database virtual machine (VM) was running. I have since tried to start that virtual machine, but VMWare Workstation keeps popping up with an error message that says 'This virtual machine might have been moved or copied (pic). In order to configure certain management and networking features, VMWare Workstation needs to know if this virtual machine was moved or copied. If you don't know, answer 'I copied it'. I then have the choice: 'I moved it', 'I copied it' and 'Cancel'. I have tried 'I moved it' and 'I copied it' and VMWare Workstation tells me that 'Taking ownership of this virtual machine failed' (pic). I cannot start the virtual machine. We really need to get to our databases - can you please help? "

My response:

I asked if Paul would like me to connect to his server using my remote desktop support service in order to have a closer look, and he agreed.

Below I will discuss my findings.

How to Fix: VMWare 'Taking ownership of this virtual machine failed' Error

The error message "Taking ownership of this virtual machine failed" (pic) may occur when you move or copy a virtual machine, in the event if power is lost on the host, or if the virtual machine is corrupt. To avoid losing power to a virtual machine, the host / server / machine running the hypervisor should have an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and a RAID with battery backup.

That said, there is a way to fix this problem, which requires manually moving around some files where the virtual machine is stored.

To do so:

  1. Pause or power off any running virtual machines inside the VMWare Workstation hypervisor.
  2. Next, launch Task Manager by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL on the keyboard. Go to the "Details" tab (for Windows 8 and 10) or the "Processes" tab in Windows 7 and earlier. Next, sort the processes by clicking on the "Details" or "Processes" tab and look for "vmware-tray.exe" in the list of running tasks. Highlight the "vmware-tray.exe" task by left-clicking the mouse, then press DEL on the keyboard to end it.
  3. Go to the folder containing the problematic virtual machine. Next, look for any ".lck" or ".lock" files AND folders. Select each one by holding down the CTRL key on the keyboard while you left click the desired files / folders. Once all items have been selected, right click over one of them and select "Cut" from the dialogue menu.
  4. Next, create a "Temp" folder inside the directory, then right click over top of Temp and select "Paste". The items you highlighted in Step #3 should be moved to the Temp folder.
  5. Start VMWare Workstation again. Click Start, then type in "VMWare Workstation"; wait for "VMWare Workstation Pro" or such to appear in the list, then click it. This will start the VMWare Workstation hypervisor. If it does not launch full screen, go to the task bar (by the clock) and locate the VMWare Workstation icon, then double click it to open it full screen. Locate your problematic virtual machine, then start it.

At this point, the virtual machine should now start. If it does not then you are welcome to contact me for additional support, described next.

Additional 1-on-1 Support, From Dennis

If you are still stuck with the VMWare Workstation error "Taking ownership of this virtual machine failed", or if the virtual machine still won't start despite applying the instructions described in this article, I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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nilyesmtg_13045's picture

Thank you, it worked perfectly for me.

surajtrsugathan's picture

Perfect and works clearly as stated.

e_parfait_13912's picture

Merci beaucoup, cela à marcher pour moi. Je me demandais comment j'allais faire pour tout reinstaller. j'avais tous mes 3 vm (windows serveur, centos 8, ..) hors d'usage.

many thanks

nickdecastro's picture

I registered an account just to say "Thanks Dennis! It worked!"

huubang1111_15539's picture

me too =))

jadac83733_15240's picture

Had this issue after an unexpected restart of the Windows host. Your solution fixed the problem!