Iv been using VMware server and player for a time now and usually the hosted OS is XP, it happens to be that iv had the "luck" to witness the crash/corruption of such images and have devised two nifty tricks/methods of data recovery that i think worth sharing.
The first is for data recovery for an unbootable image, it matches cases in which you don't seem to be able to boot XP up but the image itself is readable & loaded by VMware (you see the black screen loading), the basic idea is to change the first boot device of the image to a Linux live cd (Ubuntu works perfectly), after booting up all you need to do is to mount the NTFS folder and copy it out (by scp, thumb drive, etc..).
The second one is more complex and comes to handle a case in which the image dose not load at all (vmware complains about a corrupted vmx file), in order to recover from this state there are a couple of prequisits:
- VMware server installed.
- You have another working XP image with a vmx file.
- The corrupted image has a snapshot of a working state
The solution in this case is to copy the working vmx file into the folder of the corrupted image, load this image in VMware server and replace all the hard drive entries with the corrupted machine images, now all that is done is to revert to the last saved snapshot and see how the system is restored!
I hope that these two little methods help you as much as they helped me.