Together with the VMware server and Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM), the term VDI refers to the use of virtualization for enterprise desktop deployment. Each desktop computer (VDI client) runs as a virtual machine (VM) in a server.

You can encounter the following terminology when reading the VMware VDI documentation and working with VDI assets.

Term Definition
Clone Copy of a virtual machine that does not require browsing a host file system.
Full clone Full clones are complete and independent copies of a virtual machine and operate separately from the original parent VM. Because they do not share virtual disks with the original parent VM, full clones generally perform better than linked ones. ‍
Golden image A golden image is a template for a VDI. The golden image is also known as a base image.
Instant clone Instant clones share a virtual disk of a parent VM and consume less storage than a full VM. Instant clones share the memory of the parent VM when they are first created, which contributes to fast provisioning. As users log into these cloned desktops, additional memory is consumed. When a user logs out of an instant clone, that desktop VM is deleted.
Instant clone desktop pool An instant-clone desktop pool is an automated desktop pool created from a golden image. For more information, see Instant-Clone Desktop Pools.
Linked clone A linked clone is a snapshot of a VM that shares virtual disks with the parent VM. This conserves disk space and allows multiple VMs to use the same software installation. Linked clones make it easier to create unique virtual machines for individual tasks.
Floating VDI The desktop state is automatically destroyed at regular intervals. This can be at logoff, every night, or once a week. Nothing is saved. Each time a user logs on, they get a clean image.
Fixed VDI Each user’s virtual desktop has all their personal settings. Users can save files and customize their desktop. The experience is similar to a physical desktop.
Virtual machine (VM) A virtual machine (VM) is a virtual environment that works like a computer within a computer. It runs on an isolated partition of its host computer and has its own resources.