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Differences between network/disk devices

There are two types of network/disk devices:

  • Fully emulated devices emulate the existing hardware often installed in many physical PCs.
  • Paravirtualized devices are special software components implemented by hypervisors in order to improve VM performance.


The biggest advantage of using fully emulated devices is that they are fully supported out-of-the-box by most operating systems. Just boot up the guest OS and you get network connectivity without needing to install special drivers.

The disadvantage of going with emulated hardware is performance related – lower throughput rate and higher CPU utilization.


On the other hand,  although you'll get excellent performance using paravirtualized devices they do require installation of a special driver (for example, the VMware guest tools driver).


Fully emulated devices:

  • Network: E1000 – This driver will emulate a 1 Gbit Intel 82545EM card, and is available for most operating systems since the generation of Windows Server 2003. This card is the default when creating almost all virtual machines and is widely used.
  • Disk: ide

Paravirtualized devices:

  • Network: vmxnet3(vmware), virtio (kvm)
  • Disk: pvscsi (vmware), virtio (kvm)

 VMxnet3 is installed in Windows together with VMWare tools.

It should look like this:


Virtio is built in in modern Linux distributions, and to install virtio drivers in Windows follow this article:


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