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In the virtual machine settings editor (VM > Settings), you can choose the disk files for a virtual machine. See What Files Make Up a Virtual Machine? for a comprehensive list of the other files.
You may want to choose a file other than the one created by the New Virtual Machine Wizard if you are using a virtual disk that you created in a different location or if you are moving the automatically created disk files to a new location.
The disk files for a virtual disk store the information that you write to a virtual machine's hard disk the operating system, the program files and the data files. The virtual disk files have a .vmdk extension.
A virtual disk is made up of one or more .vmdk files.
On Windows hosts, each virtual disk is contained in one file by default. You may, as an option, configure the virtual disk to use a set of files limited to 2GB per file. Use this option if you plan to move the virtual disk to a file system that does not support files larger than 2GB.
You must set this option at the time the virtual disk is created.
If you are setting up a new virtual machine, in the New Virtual Machine Wizard, follow the Custom path. In the screen that allows you to specify the virtual disk's capacity, select Split disk into 2GB files.
If you are adding a virtual disk to an existing virtual machine, follow the steps in the Add Hardware Wizard. In the screen that allows you to specify the virtual disk's capacity, select Split disk into 2GB files.
When a disk is split into multiple files, larger virtual disks have more .vmdk files.
The first .vmdk file for each disk is small and contains pointers to the other files that make up the virtual disk. The other .vmdk files contain data stored by your virtual machine and use a small amount of space for virtual machine overhead.
If you chose to allocate space for the virtual disk in advance, the file sizes are fixed, and most of the files are 2GB. As mentioned above, the first file is small. The last file in the series may also be smaller than 2GB.
If you did not allocate the space in advance, the .vmdk files grow as data is added, to a maximum of 2GB each except for the first file in the set, which remains small.
The virtual machine settings editor shows the name of the first file in the set the one that contains pointers to the other files in the set. The other files used for that disk are automatically given names based on the first file's name.
For example, a Windows XP Professional virtual machine using the default configuration, with files that grow as needed, stores the disk in files named Windows XP Professional.vmdk, Windows XP Professional-s001.vmdk, Windows XP Professional-s002.vmdk and so on.
If the disk space is allocated in advance, the names are similar, except that they include an f instead of an s for example, Windows XP Professional-f001.vmdk.
If you are using a physical disk, the .vmdk file stores information about the physical disk or partition used by the virtual machine.