How to: Use qemu-img command to convert between vmdk, raw, qcow2, vdi, vhd, vhdx formats/disk images (qemu-img create, snapshot, resize etc.) First we need to have qemu installed on the system, for most of Linux systems, we can install “qemu-utils” for Windows we can download QEMU disk image utility from here.

Nov 21, 2019 These disk images are used to emulate disk storage devices. Furthermore depending on virtualization used, different disk images are utilized by different applications like QEMU/KVM, VirtualBox etc. First we would discuss how to get command-line utility qemu-img (Qemu disk image utility). # qemu-img resize filename size. To give a size relative to the current size, prefix the number of bytes with + to grow, or -to reduce the size of the disk image by that number of bytes. Adding a unit suffix allows you to set the image size in kilobytes (K).


qemu-img - QEMU disk image utility


usage: qemu-img command [command options]


The following commands are supported:

check [-ffmt]filename
create [-ffmt] [-ooptions]filename[size]
commit [-ffmt] [-tcache]filename
convert [-c] [-p] [-ffmt] [-tcache] [-Ooutput_fmt] [-ooptions] [-Ssparse_size]filename[filename2[..]]output_filename
info [-ffmt]filename
snapshot [-l -asnapshot -csnapshot -dsnapshot]filename
rebase [-ffmt] [-tcache] [-p] [-u] -bbacking_file[-Fbacking_fmt]filename
resizefilename[+ -]size
Command parameters:

is the disk image format. It is guessed automatically in most cases. See below for a description of the supported disk formats.

is the disk image size in bytes. Optional suffixes 'k' or 'K' (kilobyte, 1024) 'M' (megabyte, 1024k) and 'G' (gigabyte,1024M) and T (terabyte, 1024G) are supported. 'b' is ignored.
is the destination disk image filename
is a comma separated list of format specific options in a name=value format. Use '-o ?' for an overview of the options supported by the used formator see the format descriptions below for details.

indicates that target image must be compressed (qcow format only)


with or without a command shows help and lists the supported formats


display progress bar (convert and rebase commands only)

-S size
indicates the consecutive number of bytes that must contain only zeros for qemu-img to create a sparse image during conversion. This value is rounded downto the nearest 512 bytes. You may use the common size suffixes like 'k' for kilobytes.
-t cache
specifies the cache mode that should be used with the (destination) file. See the documentation of the emulator's '-drive cache=..' option forallowed values.
Parameters to snapshot subcommand:
is the name of the snapshot to create, apply or delete

applies a snapshot (revert disk to saved state)


creates a snapshot


deletes a snapshot


lists all snapshots in the given image

Command description:
check [-ffmt]filename
Perform a consistency check on the disk image filename.

Only the formats 'qcow2', 'qed' and 'vdi' support consistency checks.

create [-ffmt] [-ooptions]filename[size]
Create the new disk image filename of size size and format fmt. Depending on the file format, you can add one or more optionsthat enable additional features of this format.

If the option backing_file is specified, then the image will record only the differences from backing_file. No size needs to be specified inthis case. backing_file will never be modified unless you use the 'commit' monitor command (or qemu-img commit).

The size can also be specified using the size option with '-o', it doesn't need to be specified separately in this case.

commit [-ffmt] [-tcache]filename
Commit the changes recorded in filename in its base image.
convert [-c] [-p] [-ffmt] [-tcache] [-Ooutput_fmt] [-ooptions] [-Ssparse_size]filename[filename2[..]]output_filename
Convert the disk image filename to disk image output_filename using format output_fmt. It can be optionally compressed ('-c'option) or use any format specific options like encryption ('-o' option).

Only the formats 'qcow' and 'qcow2' support compression. The compression is read-only. It means that if a compressed sector is rewritten,then it is rewritten as uncompressed data.

Image conversion is also useful to get smaller image when using a growable format such as 'qcow' or 'cow': the empty sectors are detectedand suppressed from the destination image.

You can use the backing_file option to force the output image to be created as a copy on write image of the specified base image; thebacking_file should have the same content as the input's base image, however the path, image format, etc may differ.

info [-ffmt]filename
Give information about the disk image filename. Use it in particular to know the size reserved on disk which can be different from the displayedsize. If VM snapshots are stored in the disk image, they are displayed too.
snapshot [-l -asnapshot -csnapshot -dsnapshot]filename
List, apply, create or delete snapshots in image filename.
rebase [-ffmt] [-tcache] [-p] [-u] -bbacking_file[-Fbacking_fmt]filename
Changes the backing file of an image. Only the formats 'qcow2' and 'qed' support changing the backing file.

The backing file is changed to backing_file and (if the image format of filename supports this) the backing file format is changed tobacking_fmt.

There are two different modes in which 'rebase' can operate:

Safe mode
This is the default mode and performs a real rebase operation. The new backing file may differ from the old one and qemu-img rebase will take care ofkeeping the guest-visible content of filename unchanged.

In order to achieve this, any clusters that differ between backing_file and the old backing file of filename are merged into filenamebefore actually changing the backing file.

Note that the safe mode is an expensive operation, comparable to converting an image. It only works if the old backing file still exists.

Unsafe mode
qemu-img uses the unsafe mode if '-u' is specified. In this mode, only the backing file name and format of filename is changed without anychecks on the file contents. The user must take care of specifying the correct new backing file, or the guest-visible content of the image will be corrupted.

This mode is useful for renaming or moving the backing file to somewhere else. It can be used without an accessible old backing file, i.e. you can use it tofix an image whose backing file has already been moved/renamed.

resizefilename[+ -]size
Change the disk image as if it had been created with size.

Before using this command to shrink a disk image, you MUST use file system and partitioning tools inside the VM to reduceallocated file systems and partition sizes accordingly. Failure to do so will result in data loss!

After using this command to grow a disk image, you must use file system and partitioning tools inside the VM to actually begin using the newspace on the device.

Supported image file formats:

Raw disk image format (default). This format has the advantage of being simple and easily exportable to all other emulators. If your file system supportsholes (for example in ext2 or ext3 on Linux or NTFS on Windows), then only the written sectors will reserve space. Use 'qemu-imginfo' to know the real size used by the image or 'ls -ls' on Unix/Linux.

Host device format. This format should be used instead of raw when converting to block devices or other devices where 'holes' are not supported.
QEMU image format, the most versatile format. Use it to have smaller images (useful if your filesystem does not supports holes, for exampleon Windows), optional AES encryption, zlib based compression and support of multiple VM snapshots.

Supported options:

File name of a base image (see create subcommand)
Image format of the base image
If this option is set to 'on', the image is encrypted.

Encryption uses the AES format which is very secure (128 bit keys). Use a long password (16 characters) to get maximum protection.

Changes the qcow2 cluster size (must be between 512 and 2M). Smaller cluster sizes can improve the image file size whereas larger cluster sizes generallyprovide better performance.
Preallocation mode (allowed values: off, metadata, full). An image with preallocated metadata is initially larger but can improve performance when the imageneeds to grow. Full preallocation additionally writes zeros to the whole image in order to preallocate lower layers (e.g. the file system containing the imagefile) as well. Note that full preallocation writes to every byte of the virtual disk, so it can take a long time for large images.
Old QEMU image format. Left for compatibility.

Supported options:

File name of a base image (see create subcommand)
If this option is set to 'on', the image is encrypted.

Bike racing games. User Mode Linux Copy On Write image format. Used to be the only growable image format in QEMU . It is supported only for compatibility withprevious versions. It does not work on win32.


VirtualBox 1.1 compatible image format.

VMware 3 and 4 compatible image format.

Supported options:

Yahoo futbol manager virtual
Image format of the base image
Create a VMDK version 6 image (instead of version 4)

VirtualPC compatible image format ( VHD ).

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Linux Compressed Loop image, useful only to reuse directly compressed CD-ROM images present for example in the Knoppix CD-ROMs.

See Also

The HTML documentation of QEMU for more precise information and Linux user mode emulator invocation.


Fabrice Bellard

Referenced By


Futbol Manager Virtual


Qemu Raw Disk

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