What Files Make Up a Virtual Machine? - My First Document

What Files Make Up a Virtual Machine? - My First Document

What Files Make Up a Virtual Machine?

You may never need to know the file names or locations for your virtual machine files. Virtual machine file management is

performed by VMware Workstation. If the behind the scenes file structure is not interesting to you, skip this section.

A virtual machine typically is stored on the host computer in a set of files, usually in a directory created by

Workstation for that specific virtual machine.

The key files are listed here

by extension. In these examples, <vmname> is the name of your virtual machine


File Name






This is the file that keeps a log of key VMware Workstation activity.  This file can be useful in troubleshooting if you encounter problems.  This file is stored in the directory that holds the configuration (.vmx) file of the virtual machine.





This is the file that stores the state of the virtual machine's BIOS.



This is a virtual disk file, which stores the contents of the virtual  machine's hard disk drive.

A virtual disk is made up of one or more .vmdk files. If you have specified that the virtual disk  should be split into 2GB chunks, the number of .vmdk files depends on the size of  the virtual disk. As data is added to a virtual disk, the .vmdk files grow in size, to a  maximum of 2GB each. (If you specify that all space should be allocated  when you create the disk, these files start at the maximum size and do  not grow.) Almost all of a .vmdk  file's content is the virtual machine's data, with a small portion  allotted to virtual machine overhead.

If the virtual machine is connected directly to a physical disk, rather  than to a virtual disk, the .vmdk  file stores information about the partitions the virtual machine is  allowed to access.

Earlier VMware products used the extension .dsk for virtual disk files.


This is a redo-log file, created automatically when a virtual machine  has one or more snapshots. This file stores changes made to a virtual  disk while the virtual machine is running. There may be more than one  such file. The ### indicates a  unique suffix added automatically by VMware Workstation to avoid  duplicate file names.



The virtual machine's paging file, which backs up the guest main memory  on the host file system. This file exists only when the virtual machine  is running, or if the virtual machine has crashed.


Each snapshot of a virtual machine that is powered on has an associated .vmem file, which contains the guest's main memory, saved as part of the  snapshot.



This is a centralized file for storing information and metadata about  snapshots.



This is the snapshot state file, which stores the running state of a  virtual machine at the time you take that snapshot


This is the file which stores the state of a snapshot



This is the suspended state file, which stores the state of a suspended  virtual machine

.Some earlier VMware products used the extension .std for  suspended state files



This is the configuration file containing team data.



This is the primary configuration file, which stores settings chosen in  the New Virtual Machine Wizard or virtual machine settings editor. If  you created the virtual machine under an earlier version of VMware  Workstation on a Linux host, this file may have a .cfg extension



This is a supplemental configuration file for virtual machines that are  in a team. Note that the .vmxf file remains if a virtual  machine is removed from the team.


Good job! Hope it's current somewhat in 2020 alike.



> Hope it's current somewhat in 2020 alike.

This doc did not age well.

It was oversimplified and incomplete in 2011.

Nowadays it is  just incomplete, oversimplified and parts are actually wrong.

Best place for this doc is the trashbin.

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