VMware Virtual Machine File System

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What Does VMware Virtual Machine File System Mean?

VMware Virtual Machine File System (VMware VMFS) is a virtual machine file system used in VMware ESX Server software to store files in a virtualized environment. VMware VMFS was designed to store files, images and screen shots within a virtual machine. Multiple virtual machines can share a single virtual machine file system. Its storage capacity can be increased by spanning multiple VMFS. This file system is not mandatory and is therefore not installed with every virtual machine.


VMware VMFS manages the creation, allocation and management of virtualized storage for all the different sets of virtual machines and servers created using VMware’s set of tools and technologies. VMware VMFS is also known as VMFS vStorage.

Techopedia Explains VMware Virtual Machine File System

VMware introduced virtual infrastructure (VI) to serve a need for a change in the traditional IT infrastructure that would provide cheaper, more reliable solutions for network and system administrators. With VI, everything is virtualized and administrators can get maximum output with minimum resources. In traditional IT infrastructure, hard drives, optical discs and tapes were being used as a storage media but in VI, VMFS provides a reliable and secure file system.

VMFS is a cluster file system that enables the virtualization world to avoid the limitations of other file storage systems. VMFS is designed specifically for a virtual environment and therefore, different facilities and benefits are derived.

The following are the key features of VMFS:

  • It simplifies the storage issues of virtual machines as multiple virtual machines installed over different ESX servers can share a single shared storage area.
  • Multiple instances of an ESX server run simultaneously and share VMFS.
  • VMFS strongly supports the distributed infrastructure of virtualization by using various VMware services.

VMFS also has some limitations, including:

  • It can only be shared with 64 ESX servers at a time.
  • Logical unit numbers support is limited to a size of 2TB

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.