vSphere 6.0: Understanding Virtual Machine Files (Part-8)

As we know that virtual infrastructure is a file-based structure. Before creating a virtual machine, we should understand the basic structure of a VM. When a virtual machine is created, a set of files for that specific virtual machine are created. Virtual machine files are stored in either the virtual machines directory or the working directory. Both directories are typically on the host system. If you have missed previous posts of this series, you can find them here.

  1. Introduction to vSphere 6.0
  2. Introduction to Virtual Infrastructure
  3. vSphere Lab Setup
  4. vSphere Client 6.0
  5. Install and Configure ESXi 6.0 
  6. Configure IP Address and Hostname of ESXi 6.0
  7. Configure NTP Client using vSphere Web Client

VMware virtual machine files are organized in the Virtual Machine File System (VMFS). Most of the files start with the actual name of the VM followed by different file extensions that denote the file type. Following table represents file extensions and their brief descriptions.

virtual machine files

I’ve created a virtual machine with the name as ESXi1, and you can see in following figure, most of the files are present with the above mentioned extensions.

virtual machine file extensions

Any virtual machine which is created in virtual environment consists of two parts, i. Body part, ii. Brain part

i. Body Part: Virtual disk files of a VM, which store the contents of the virtual machine hard disk drive are called body part of a VM. These files use .vmdk extension. They are usually large files sometimes very large files, and vSphere 6.0 can support up-to 62TB virtual disk file per VM.

ii. Brain Part: The primary configuration file, which stores virtual machine settings, and the virtual machine paging file, which backs up the guest main memory on the host file system are called brain part of a VM. These files use .vmx and .vmem file extensions. These files are usually smaller in size and these types of files transferred from one host to another during vMotion, HA features (advanced features will be discussed in future posts). To know more about Virtualization, ESXi, and VMs you can follow VMware vSphere 6 Part 1 – Virtualization, ESXi and VMs course.

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Comments (3)

  1. robin


    1. Nisar Ahmad (Post author)

      Thanks Robin!

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