What Is an OVA File?

How to open, edit, and convert OVA files

OVA Files
OVA Files.

A file with the .OVA file extension is most likely an Open Virtual Appliance file, sometimes called an Open Virtual Applications file or an Open Virtualization Format Archive file. They're used by virtualization programs to store various files associated with a virtual machine (VM).

An Open Virtual Appliance file is stored in the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) as a TAR archive. Some of the files you might find within it include disk images (like VMDKs), an OVF descriptor XML-based text file, ISOs or other resource files, certificate files and an MF manifest file.

Since the OVF format is a standard, it can be used by a virtual machine program to export the VM data files so that it can be imported into a different application. VirtualBox, for example, can export one of its VMs to an archive package with the .OVA file extension that includes an OVF and VMDK file.

Octava Musical Score files use the OVA file extension too, for musical scores created with the Octava program. Score formatting options like bars, staffs and notes are stored in the OVA file.

How to Open an OVA File

VMware Workstation and VirtualBox are two virtualization applications that can open OVA files.

Some other similar programs that support OVF include XenServer, IBM SmartCloud and POWER, Oracle VM, rPath, SUSE Studio, Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

Since OVA files are archives that hold other data, you can extract the contents out or browse through them with a file unzip program like 7-Zip or PeaZip.

Octava opens OVA files that are Octava Musical Score files. The website and program are both in German.

How to Convert OVA Files

There's little reason to convert an actual OVA file but several reasons why you might want to convert one or more files from inside the OVA archive. Keep that in mind when you're deciding what format you want the virtual machine to end up as.

For example, you don't need to convert an OVA file to OVF or VMDK in order to get those file out of the archive. You can instead just extract it from the OVA file using one of the file unzip programs mentioned above.

The same is true if you want to convert the VMDK file to Hyper-V VHD; you can't just convert the OVA archive to VHD. Instead, you need to pull the VMDK file out of the OVA file and then convert it to VHD using a program like Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter.

To convert an OVA file to be used with VMware Workstation is as easy as exporting the VM to an OVA file. Then, in VMware, use the File > Open... menu to browse for the OVA file, and then follow the instructions in VMware Workstation to set up the new VM.

If the VM program you're using doesn't export to an OVA file, VMware can still open other VM related content like OVF files.

QCOW2 files are QEMU Copy On Write Version 2 Disk Image files that are similar to other virtual machine hard drive files. See this tutorial at Edoceo to learn how to convert the OVA file to QCOW2 for use with QEMU.

You might also be looking for an OVA to ISO converter but it'd be more appropriate to convert the virtual hard drive files (that are inside the OVA archive) to an image format (much like the VHD example above), which is out of the scope of this article.

VMware OVF Tool is a command line tool that lets you import and export OVA files to and from other VMware products. VMware vCenter Converter works too.

Still Can't Open Your File?

If your file isn't opening with the suggestions above, double-check that you're actually dealing with a file that ends with ".OVA". This isn't always the case since it's easy to confuse file formats that use similarly spelled file extensions.

For example, OVR and OVP are both spelled almost exactly like OVA but are instead Overlay files used with a program called The Overlay Maker. Trying to open either file format with the virtualization tools mentioned above will not get you anywhere.

Similar to Octava Musical Score files are Overture Musical Score files that use the OVE file extension. It'd be easy to confuse these two file formats but the latter only works with the Overture application.