Available article translations:

How to run a virtual machine from network or external mass storage

  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Home Edition
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition


  • I have an external mass storage (USB flash drive, hard drive or solid state drive) and I want to store and run my virtual machine (VM) from it. How do I do that?
  • I store my virtual machine at Network Attached Storage (NAS) and I want to run my virtual machine (VM) from it.


Having a virtual machine stored on external mass storage or NAS places limitations to some of the operations you may perform with the VM:

  • Creating, removing or reverting to snapshots
  • Suspend or resume of the VM.

NOTE: we highly recommend you having a backup of your VM, as in some conditions like low network speed unstable connection or external storage I/O speed, due to a high read/write operations frequency (installing Windows updates or upgrading/repairing Operating System) guest File System may be damaged to unrecoverable data loss.

Performance of non-locally stored virtual machines is also depends on a network capacity.

We recommend you use the following types of external mass storage devices:

  • Flash Drive on Thunderbolt
  • Flash Drive on USB 3.0
  • Flash Drive on USB 2.0
  • Rotational Drive on Thunderbolt
  • Rotational Drive on USB 3.0

How to transfer a virtual machine to required destination

  1. Make sure the VM is shut down.

  2. Locate the virtual machine on your Mac.

    Note: in order to transfer a Boot Camp partition, see KB 113658

    By default virtual machine files are saved either to the Documents/Parallels folder inside your user folder, or at /Users/Shared/Parallels.

    Parallels Desktop virtual machines have a .pvm extension

  3. Copy or move the .pvm file to the desired destination.

    • Double-click on the .pvm file to start your virtual machine.

    NOTE: If you want to run a VM from NTFS-formatted partition, you need to install NTFS driver for your Mac. For more information visit: How to use a virtual machine stored on NTFS-formatted partition

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