VDI vs. VM – What Are The Differences Between Both?

The advancement in cloud and virtualization technology has brought us to many technical terms always hovering around our minds. As a business owner or a non-techie, it becomes difficult to learn or understand these technical terminologies.

VDI vs VM Whats The Difference

Here, let’s understand the two most commonly used virtualization terms VDI and VM. Though the two terms are different, they are used as a substitute for each other.

Difference between VDI and VM

What is VDI?

VDI or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is a technology used to create a virtualized environment in which the hardware is segmented into different virtual desktops. These virtual desktops are hosted on a central server.

Hence, we can say that VM is a part of the technology that creates complete VDI.

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What are VMs?

A VM or virtual machine is a software machine created when computing resources are segmented into multiple virtual desktops through a hypervisor. The hypervisor segments the physical hardware into different VMs.

One of the applications of virtual machines is to run a virtual desktop.

What are the types of VDI?

VDI is of two types:

Persistent VDI

In this type of VDI, data and settings remain saved even when the users log out of the virtual desktops. Hence, it will benefit you if you don’t require to change the settings every day.

However, as it saves all the data, it may require a good amount of storage space, which may cost you more.

Non Persistent VDI

In this type of VDI, data and settings are restored to default when you log out of the system. When you log into the system, you will see the default settings every time. It will be beneficial when there is a huge workforce and employees keep on changing the systems regularly.

It does not retain your data, and hence it requires less storage space. Non-persistent VDI may become less expensive for you.

Read More about Persistent vs Non Persistent VDI.

What are the types of VMs?

Process Virtual Machines

Such VMs are also known as Application Virtual Machines because they allow a single process or application to run independently of the host computer. For example, developers always look for simulators (like a Java Virtual Machine) to test and compile their codes without disturbing the host computer.

System Virtual Machines

These are the exact replica of the entire computer system. In other words, by dividing the hardware resources of the host computer, you can create multiple guest computers. You can split the hardware by installing the hypervisor and create various VMs. These VMs can have an entirely different OS called guest OS. These guest OS are entirely isolated, and your work on the guest OS does not affect the host OS.

VDI is a desktop virtualization solution that creates a virtual desktop on any endpoint, giving remote access to users over a secure network. A Virtual machine is software that creates a virtual desktop environment for the user. 
There are two types of VDI environments: Persistent and Non-persistent There are two types of VM: Process and system 
VDI is hosted on a virtual machine and allows users to access it anywhere, even on a low-spec device. VM functions as a physical computer, runs operating systems, stores data, and does other computing functions. 
VDI can be hosted either on-premise or on cloud servers.  VM is created with the help of virtual resources from the physical computer and runs on a dedicated amount of CPU, memory, and storage 

How is VDI created?

VDI is a much broader technical term, and it is used regularly in the virtualization space. You can create a VDI in an on-premise environment or a cloud hosted environment.

On-premise VDI

In this, virtual desktops are created from on-premise data centers. Hence, you may need bulky hardware and physical computers to set this up in the office. You and your IT team have to manage all the IT infra in the office.

Cloud VDI

In cloud VDI, virtual desktops are created by a third-party VDI provider on their cloud servers. The provider manages the creation and deployment of the virtual desktops.

How are VMs created?

VMs are created by installing the hypervisor in the host computers. Hypervisors are of two types:

Type 1 Hypervisor

It is created straight on the host computer’s hardware (also called bare-metal) by installing hypervisor software like VMware ESXi. You can install this hypervisor on computers having any CPU, RAM, or storage configurations.

Type 2 Hypervisor

You can install Type-2 hypervisor on an OS like Windows or macOS, also called Host OS. With this Host OS, you can create multiple guest OS. Host OS allows all the guest OS to use the system resources in a shared manner.

What are the applications of VDI?

VDI is a virtualization technology, and it has served companies very well during the COVID-19 pandemic. VDI is projected to grow continuously at 17% CAGR between 2020 and 2026.

  • VDI technology is in high demand for remote working employees. Many companies have adopted VDI to provide secure virtual desktops to their workforce.
  • When you opt for VDI on the cloud, it offers your employees to work with utmost flexibility, like any time, anywhere access.
  • VDI is used in multiple industries like finance, manufacturing, medical, education, and many more because it is highly secure and reduces business costs.

Recommend Reading: All about VDI, its components, and working.

What are the applications of VM?

VM is a component of VDI, and you can use it in more specific domains of testing, development, and virtualization. Some of the use cases are:

  • VM is beneficial if you want to learn new operating systems on your existing device. You can run multiple OS on a single OS-like operating Linux on Windows OS.
  • It offers multiple independent platforms for testing and running programs in the same manner as standard operating systems.
  • It is helpful if you want to learn hacking skills, as it keeps your host OS isolated. Hence, it will not affect your primary system.
  • VM is used to create a VDI for an organization. Companies use virtual machines for hosting virtual desktops for their employees.


Modern computing is becoming more complex, and a wide variety of terminologies are used in day-to-day life. Most of these terms are used interchangeably because of a lack of knowledge. VDI and VM are two of those amongst so many others.

In brief, VDI is a technology that comprises virtual machines (VMs) that the end-users can access remotely.

If you are looking for more information or want VDI for your business, directly contact our solutions consultant at +1-855-223-4887 or click the chat button below.

About Julie Watson

Julie is a dynamic professional with over 16 years of rich experience as a VDI and Application Hosting expert. At Ace Cloud Hosting, she humanizes disruptive and emerging remote working trends to help leaders discover new and better possibilities for digital transformation and innovation by using cloud solutions with an enterprise-class security approach. Beyond work, Julie is a passionate surfer.
On the weekend, you will find her hanging out with her family or surfing around the North Shore of Oahu.

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