“could not open/create change tracking files” error when powering on VM
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“could not open/create change tracking files” error when powering on VM


Article ID: 313074


Updated On:


VMware vCenter Server VMware vSphere ESXi


To provide procedure to allow the virtual machine (VM) affected by this error to power on.

Powering on virtual machine after a storage outage fails with the error:

could not open/create change tracking file vmdk_file_name
Note: For additional symptoms and stack entries, see the Additional Information section.


VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5
VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0.x
VMware vCenter Server 7.0.x
VMware vCenter Server 6.5.x
VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.7.x
VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0.0
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7
VMware vCenter Server 6.0.x
VMware vSphere ESXi 5.5
VMware vCenter Server 6.7.x
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.0
VMware vSphere ESXi 5.1
VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.5.x


This issue occurs when the filename-ctk.vmdk file is not cleared.


To resolve this issue, move the filename-ctk.vmdk file into a subdirectory or rename it:
  1. In the vCenter or ESXi host user interface, right-click the VM and select Edit Settings...
  2. Make note of the SCSI controller type used by the hard disk.
  3. Remove the vmdk_file_name hard disk specified in the error message from the virtual machine.
Warning: Select only Remove from virtual machine, Selecting Remove from virtual machine and delete files from disk will permanently delete the virtual disk.
  1. Follow Using the ESXi command line to find the virtual machine file path and virtual disk information to connect to the ESXi host command line interface and navigate to the directory for the affected VM.
  2. Move the filename-ctk.vmdk file into a subdirectory or rename it. Where the text in italics is replaced by the actual file name of the ctk file in the error:
mkdir deleteme
mv filename-ctk.vmdk deleteme
  1. In the vSphere Client, re-add the hard disk back to the virtual machine using the SCSI controller type from step one.
  2. On the ESXi host command line interface, edit the descriptor file (.vmdk) and remove or comment out any references that specify use of a ctk file.
  3. Power on the virtual machine.

Additional Information

You may experience these additional symptoms:
  • No CTK variables on the virtual machine configuration (.vmx).
  • When the virtual machine is powered on, you see error similar to:

    invalid signature change in tracking file
For more information about Changed Block Tracking see Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on virtual machines

Failed to power on virtual machine
Powering on a virtual machine fails with the error: Cannot open the disk