Depending on the storage you use, datastores can be of different types.

vCenter Server and ESXi support the following types of datastores.

Table 1. Types of Datastores

Datastore Type


VMFS (version 3, 5, and 6)

Datastores that you deploy on block storage devices use the vSphere Virtual Machine File System (VMFS) format. VMFS is a special high-performance file system format that is optimized for storing virtual machines. See Understanding VMFS Datastores.

NFS (version 3 and 4.1)

An NFS client built into ESXi uses the Network File System (NFS) protocol over TCP/IP to access a designated NFS volume. The volume is located on a NAS server. The ESXi host mounts the volume as an NFS datastore, and uses it for storage needs. ESXi supports versions 3 and 4.1 of the NFS protocol. See Understanding Network File System Datastores


vSAN aggregates all local capacity devices available on the hosts into a single datastore shared by all hosts in the vSAN cluster. See the Administering VMware vSAN documentation.

Virtual Volumes

Virtual Volumes datastore represents a storage container in vCenter Server and vSphere Web Client. See Working with Virtual Volumes.

You can use the vSphere Web Client to create certain types of datastores. You can also perform administrative operations on the datastores. Several operations, such as renaming a datastore, are available for all types of datastores. Others apply to specific types of datastores.

You can also organize the datastores in different ways. For example, you can group them into folders according to business practices. After you group the datastores, you can assign the same permissions and alarms on the datastores in the group at one time.

You can add the datastores to datastore clusters. A datastore cluster is a collection of datastores with shared resources and a shared management interface. When you create the datastore cluster, you can use Storage DRS to manage storage resources. For information about datastore clusters, see the vSphere Resource Management documentation.