The personal vDisk feature in XenDesktop retains the single image management of pooled and streamed desktops while allowing people to install applications and change their desktop settings.
Unlike traditional Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments involving pooled desktops, where users lose their customizations and personal applications when the administrator alters the base virtual machine (VM), deployments using personal vDisks retain those changes. This means administrators can easily and centrally manage their base VMs while providing users with a customized and personalized desktop experience.
Personal vDisks provide this separation by redirecting all changes made on the user’s VM to a separate disk (the personal vDisk) attached to the user’s VM. The content of the personal vDisk is blended at runtime with the content from the base VM to provide a unified experience. In this way, users can still access applications provisioned by their administrator in the base VM.
Personal vDisks have two parts, which use different drive letters and are by default equally sized:
- One part comprises C:\Users (in Windows 7) or C:\Documents and Settings (in Windows XP). This contains user data, documents, and the user profile. By default this uses drive P: but you can choose a different drive letter when you use Desktop Studio to create a catalog with personal vDisks.
- The other part comprises a Virtual Hard Disk file (a .vhd file). This contains all other items, for example applications installed in C:\Program Files. By default, this part uses drive V: but is hidden from users; this drive is not displayed in Windows Explorer. You can choose a different drive letter by configuring the Virtual Desktop Agent. For information on this, see CTX131432.
Personal vDisks support the provisioning of department-level applications, as well as applications downloaded and installed by users, including those that require drivers, databases, and PC management software. If a user’s change conflicts with an administrator’s change, a personal vDisk provides a simple and automatic way to reconcile the changes.
In addition, locally administered applications (such as those provisioned and managed by local IT departments) can also be provisioned into the user’s environment. The user experiences no difference in usability; personal vDisks ensure all changes made and all applications installed are stored on the vDisk. Where an application on a personal vDisk exactly matches one on a master image, the copy on the personal vDisk is discarded to save space without the user losing access to the application.
Physically, a personal vDisk does not need to be stored with the dedicated pool VM. This frees up high-speed disks for VM storage; the personal vDisk can be placed on a less expensive storage solution, like a file server.
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