Files that make up a virtual machine ESXi

For the longest time I always wondered what exactly all those files inside your directory do and their purpose so here is a handy guide.

Configuration File -> VM_name.vmx
Swap File -> VM_name.vswp or vmx-VM_NAME.vswp
BIOS File -> VM_name.nvram
Log files -> vmware.log
Disk descriptor file -> VM_name.vmdk
Disk data file -> VM_name-flat.vmdk
Suspended state file -> VM_name.vmss
Snapshot data file -> VM_name.vmsd
Snapshot state file -> VM_name.vmsn
Template file -> VM_name.vmtx
Snapshot disk file -> VM_name-delta.vmdk
Raw Device map file -> VM_name-rdm.vmdk

  • .vmx – Contains all the configuration information and hardware settings for the virtual machine, it is stored in text format.
  • .vswp – is a file that is always created for virtual machines during power on. It’s equal to the size of allocated ram minus any memory reservation at boot time. This swap file is used when the physical host exhausts all of its allocated memory and guest swap is used.
  • .nvram – is a binary formated file that contains BIOS information much like a BIOS chip. If deleted it is automatically recreated when the virtual machine is powered back on.
  • .log – Log files are created when the machine is power cycled the current log is always called vmware.log

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