Running VMware Workstation as a server with shared virtual machines
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Running VMware Workstation as a server with shared virtual machines


Article ID: 311129


Updated On:


VMware Desktop Hypervisor


You can share virtual machines with remote users in this version of Workstation. When you install VMware Workstation 8.x and later, virtual machine sharing and remote access are enabled by default. This feature is called VMware Workstation Server, and it starts when the host system starts.

A shared virtual machine can be accessed remotely by other instances of Workstation 8.x and later. Working remotely, you can create a new shared virtual machine, convert a standard virtual machine, or create a shared virtual machine clone of a standard virtual machine to the Server where the VMware Host Agent service manages them.

For more information, see the Understanding VMware Workstation Server section of the Using VMware Workstation guide.


VMware Workstation Pro 15.x (Windows)
VMware Workstation Pro 14.x (for Windows)
VMware Workstation Pro 14.x (for Linux)
VMware Workstation Pro 15.x (Linux)


This article addresses these topics:
  1. Sharing a virtual machine
  2. Configuring shared virtual machines
  3. Connecting to shared virtual machines
  4. AutoStart
  5. Roles and Permissions
  6. Default directories for shared virtual machines

Sharing a virtual machine

To share a virtual machine:

  1. Right-click an existing virtual machine in the Virtual Machine Library.
  2. Choose Manage > Share.
  3. Follow the wizard to complete the process.

    The wizard provides the option to move or clone an existing virtual machine to the server.

Configuring shared virtual machines

With the Shared VMs Workstation preferences, you can disable/enable the server, assign a different port for connecting, and change the Shared VMs directory.

To access the Shared VMs Workstation preferences:

  1. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  2. Click the Shared VMs tab.

Connecting to shared virtual machines

Connection to VMware Workstation Server (the shared virtual machines) is administered by the VMware Host Agent service. The service uses TCP ports 80 and 443. This service is also used by other VMware products, including VMware Server and vSphere, and provides additional capabilities.

You can change the VMware Workstation Server ports when you install Workstation and after Workstation is installed.

To connect from a second instance of Workstation to Workstation Server:

  1. Go to File > Connect to Server.
  2. Enter the host name or IP address of the host machine running Workstation Server.
  3. When prompted, login with the username and password of a local administrator on the remote host.

Note: If the VMware Workstation Server service running on the remote server is not using the default port, you must specify the port number. For example, remotehost:444.


You can use the new AutoStart feature to configure shared virtual machines to start with the host system. You can also configure AutoStart for shared virtual machines on remote hosts running Workstation and ESX 4.x and later. To access the AutoStart feature:

  1. Right-click Shared VMs/Server Name/IP Address.
  2. Select Manage AutoStart VMs.
To setup/configure delay between auto startup of multiple shared virtual machines:
  1. Right-click Shared VMs/Server Name/IP Address.
  2. Select Manage AutoStart VMs.
  3. Select the virtual machines that you want to auto start.
  4. Set the delay that you want for the virtual machine in the Delay between starting each virtual machine (in seconds) option available at the bottom of the window.
  5. Click OK to save the settings.

Roles and Permissions

You can control which users can access remote hosts and shared virtual machines by creating permissions. To create a permission, you pair a user or group with a role and associate that pairing with an object. The role defines the actions that a user or group can perform, the user or group indicates who can perform the actions, and the object is the target of the actions.

A role is a predefined set of privileges. Privileges define individual rights that a user requires to perform actions and read properties. A single user can have different roles for different objects. Users can inherit permissions through group membership and through the object hierarchy. When you assign permissions to a group, all of the users in the group inherit those permissions. If you define multiple group permissions on the same object and a user belongs to two or more of those groups, the user inherits all of the privileges assigned to the groups. If you define a permission for the user on the object, that permission takes precedence over all group permissions.

To configure roles and permissions:

  1. Right-click Shared VMs/Server Name/IP Address.
  2. Select Roles or Permissions.

Default directories for shared virtual machines

Workstation stores shared virtual machines in the shared virtual machines directory where VMware Workstation Server manages them. Shared virtual machines appear in the Virtual Machine Library under the Shared VMs item. If virtual machine sharing is disabled, or if the current user does not have the correct permissions to connect to VMware Workstation Server, the Shared VMs item is inactive.

The default shared virtual machines directory depends on your host operating system:

  • Windows XP, Windows Server 2003: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Shared Virtual Machines
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8: C:\Users\Public\Documents\Shared Virtual Machines
  • Linux: /var/lib/vmware/Shared VMs
Note: You can change the default location of shared virtual machines from VMware Workstation preferences:
  1. Click Edit > Preferences from VMware Workstation user Interface.
  2. Click Shared VMs.

Additional Information


Ejecutar VMware Workstation como servidor con máquinas virtuales compartidas
对共享虚拟机运行 VMware Workstation 作为服务器
共有仮想マシンを使用するサーバとして、VMware Workstation を実行する


When you share a virtual machine, you gain these features:

  • Remote virtual machine access - For more information, see the Configure Virtual Machine Sharing and Remote Access section of the Using VMware Workstation guide.
  • User Access Control - For more information, see the Using Permissions to Restrict Users section of the Using VMware Workstation guide.
  • Automatic virtual machine Start & Stop
When you share a virtual machine, you lose these features:
  • Unity
  • Shared Folders
  • AutoProtect
  • drag and drop
  • copy and paste
  • Thin Print
  • Ability to connect/redirect USB devices from the host to the virtual machine not available with Workstation 8.x
  • 3D Acceleration