XenApp and XenDesktop

Personal vDisk

The personal vDisk feature retains the single image management of pooled and streamed desktops while allowing users to install applications and change their desktop settings. Unlike traditional Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments involving pooled desktops, where users lose their customization and personal applications when the administrator changes the master image, deployments using personal vDisks retain those changes. This means administrators can easily and centrally manage their master images 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), which is attached to the user’s VM. The content of the personal vDisk is blended at runtime with the content from the master image to provide a unified experience. In this way, users can still access applications provisioned by their administrator in the master image.

Personal vDisks have two parts, which use different drive letters and are by default equally sized:

  • User profile - 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 create a catalog with machines using personal vDisks. The drive used also depends on the EnableUserProfileRedirection setting.
  • Virtual Hard Disk (.vhd) file - This contains all other items, for example applications installed in C:\Program Files. This part is not displayed in Windows Explorer and, since Version 5.6.7, does not require a drive letter.

Personal vDisks support the provisioning of department-level applications, as well as applications downloaded and installed by users, including those that require drivers (except phase 1 drivers), databases, and machine management software. If a user’s change conflicts with an administrator’s change, the 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, you store personal vDisks on the hypervisor but they do not have to be in the same location as other disks attached to the virtual desktop. This can lower the cost of personal vDisk storage.

During Site creation, when you create a connection, you define storage locations for disks that are used by VMs. You can separate the Personal vDisks from the disks used by the operating system. Each VM must have access to a storage location for both disks. If you use local storage for both, they must be accessible from the same hypervisor. To ensure this requirement is met, Studio offers only compatible storage locations. Later, you can also add personal vDisks and storage for them to existing hosts (but not machine catalogs) from Configuration > Hosting in Studio.

Back up personal vDisks regularly using any preferred method. The vDisks are standard volumes in a hypervisor’s storage tier, so you can back them up, just like any other volume.


Refer to the Troubleshooting article for information about PvD reports, messages and known issues.

Personal vDisk

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