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Using VMware Virtual Disk Manager

Using VMware Virtual Disk Manager

VMware Virtual Disk Manager is a utility in VMware Workstation that allows you to create, manage and modify virtual disk files from the command line or within scripts.

One key feature is the ability to enlarge a virtual disk so its maximum capacity is larger than it was when you created it. This way, if you find you need more disk space in a given virtual machine, but you do not want to add another virtual disk or use ghosting software to transfer the data on a virtual disk to a larger virtual disk, you can instead change the maximum size of the virtual disk. This is something you cannot do with physical hard drives.

Another feature allows you to change disk types. When you create a virtual machine, you specify how disk space is allocated. You select one of the following:

  • All space for the virtual disk is allocated in advance. This corresponds to what the virtual disk manager calls the preallocated disk type.
  • Space allocated for the virtual disk begins small and grows as needed. This corresponds to what the virtual disk manager calls the growable disk type.

With virtual disk manager you can change whether the virtual disk type is preallocated or growable and whether the virtual disk is stored in a single file or split into 2GB files. For example, you may have allocated all the disk space for a virtual disk, then find that you need to reclaim some hard disk space on the host. You can convert the preallocated virtual disk into a growable disk, then remove the original virtual disk file. The new virtual disk is large enough to contain all the data in the original virtual disk. The virtual disk grows in size as you add data to it.

These features and the ability to use scripting to automate management of virtual disks were added to VMware Workstation in version 4.5.2.

You can use the virtual disk manager for the following tasks:

  • Automate the management of virtual disks with scripts.
  • Create virtual disks that are not associated with a particular virtual machine, to be used as templates, for example.
  • Switch the virtual disk type from preallocated to growable, or vice versa. When you change the disk type to growable, you reclaim some space on the virtual disk. You can shrink the virtual disk to reclaim even more disk space.
  • Expand the size of a virtual disk so it is larger than the size specified when you created it.
  • Defragment virtual disks.
  • Prepare and shrink virtual disks without powering on the virtual machine. (Windows hosts only.)

You can use the virtual disk manager with virtual disks created under VMware GSX Server, VMware Workstation and VMware VirtualCenter (provided the virtual disk was created on a GSX Server host managed by VirtualCenter).

You cannot use the virtual disk manager to create physical (raw) disks. Physical disks cannot be shrunk by the virtual disk manager or by Workstation.

For more information about using the virtual disk manager, read the following sections:

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