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Hyper-V virtual machine files

In this article I would like to talk about the Hyper-V virtual machine files, something that might be useful for people that are coming from the VMware platform. First I’ll go through the virtual machine files that are used in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, because this is the most used, and then through the changes implemented in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.

So, in Windows Server 2012 we have the following virtual machine files:

  • .XML files  which contains the virtual machine configuration details. The files can be find where the virtual machine is stored, in the Virtual Machines folder and you’ll have one for virtual machine and one for each snapshot of the virtual machine.
  • .BIN files contains the memory of the virtual machine or snapshot that is in a saved state. The files can be find where the virtual machine is stored, in the Virtual Machines folder and it will also be created for each snapshot you take and it will be placed in virtual machine location\Snapshots and there you will have a folder named with a GUID
  • .VSV files contains the saved state from the devices associated with the virtual machine. The files can be find where the virtual machine is stored, in the Virtual Machines folder and it will also be created for each snapshot you take and it will be placed in virtual machine Location\Snapshots and there you will have a folder named with a GUID
  • .VHD files are the virtual machine virtual hard disk files
  • .AVHD files  are differencing disk files used for the snapshots.

You can find some more details on this blog post by Ben Armstrong.

Now, in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V the files were changed and we have the followings:

  • Configuration File (.VMCX) – this replaces the .XML configuration file and contains the virtual machine configuration information in a binary file format.
  • Runtime State (.VMRS) – virtual machine runtime state information stored in a binary file format.
  • Virtual Hard Disk (.VHD or .VHDX) – nothing changed
  • Automatic virtual hard disk (.AVDX) – these are differencing disk files used for virtual machine checkpoint.
  • Checkpoint (.VMRS and .VMCX) – for each checkpoint created an .VMCX and .VMRS file is created.
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