Running a virtual machine on an external hard drive sounds like news to many people. But did you know that it's doable? Virtual machines can run off an external hard drive. The best thing about portable applications is that they allow you to move between computers, taking your software applications and their settings with you on an external hard drive. The setup and installation are simple and can be done by storing your VM file on an external drive. Running your virtual machine on a USB drive is slow, and you'll end up noticing delays and lags during execution. This is why you must try external drives since they are more efficient. For people wondering how to do this, there are a few things that you need to know, which we're going to cover thoroughly in our guide. Let's start by understanding what a virtual machine is.

Let's Start Here: What is a Virtual Machine?

A virtual machine (VM) software runs applications or programs without being tied to a tangible or physical device. One or more guest machines can run on a physical computer in a virtual machine instance. The significant advantage of VMs is that you can run virtual machine from external hard drive, which can imitate dedicated hardware like a standard operating system. A hypervisor, a specialized software, can emulate the PC client or server CPU and other hardware resources, ultimately enabling virtual machines to share the resources. VMs can efficiently use hardware, which lowers the quantities of hardware and associated maintenance costs while also reducing power.

Hypervisor Type

In the technology world, the hypervisor is also known as a virtual machine manager (VMM). It is the platform that allows multiple operating systems to be run in the same instance. The hypervisor plays an important role, which is why you need to consider the type of hypervisor which manages your virtual machine running. There are two types of hypervisors: bare-metal and hosted. The bare metal type can handle all the devices by managing and operating directly on the host; in this case, we are using an external disk drive. The second type of hypervisor is held on a conventional operating system, meaning that all VMs are being run at the third level. After deciding on the best kind of hypervisor, you must figure out the best external drive that you're going to use.

Storage Capacity

You need to ensure that you choose an external drive that will meet your needs in storage capacity. Choosing the right drive can be overwhelming for some people, but you don't want to pick something that will take you back to the shop after a few months. There are numerous options available in the market, so ensure that you scale down your needs, which will come in handy when you're buying a drive. In many cases, VMs eat away on storage space, so you must reduce the number of environments that you plan to isolate within a particular drive. Sometimes, even external storage drives may result in extra maintenance complexities when elements such as drivers, patches, and firmware are a factor.

Reliability is Key (Hardware)

When you think about reliability, most people question whether a particular product is worth buying; it's always a money factor at the end of the day. Ensure that you go for something that is dedicated and will last you a while before you can purchase another external drive. The hardware that your drive is built on is essential if you want something reliable. Various conventional virtual servers utilize a dedicated server made with dual or single CPUs and plenty of RAM. The best type of external drive, coupled with your VM, should offer you decent performance and reliability at a lower entry cost.


When customers purchase a VM, they have either outgrown their Web Hosting account, or they are looking for a better solution that is more flexible. Ensure that the VM you choose can grow with your requirements and that you have an easy-to-use control panel that provides at least the essential functions such as upgrading and downgrading, start, stop, reboot, and course console for when things go out of hand.

These are some of the issues you need to consider when running a VM on an external hard drive. However, you will likely experience some performance issues. The VM should run okay as long as you don't have operations that require a lot of file writing. Also, the smaller the VM, the better. If you have a 50-60 GB Windows VM, it will be prolonged on an external drive. The best option is to go for an external SSD or at least a 7200 rpm HDD external disk drive.

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