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I have an Ubuntu VM with 3 partitions. One is the main partition, one is a small swap-space partition, and the last is a 3rd partition with 20 GB of storage space.

I imagined these 3 would be separated into 3 .vmdk files, so it would be a nice modular file format. However, I go look and I have 22 .vmdk files! What are all of these? And is there any files that separate the 3 partitions? For example, if I keep backups of my VM and want to revert to a months old version, but keep my current 3rd storage partition, is there a single file with this that I can keep?

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Have you enabled snapshots and are these snapshots of your system? – tkrabec Aug 19 '11 at 13:38
To have separate vmdk files for each drive you would need to either recreate the machine or clone it to new virtual drives. Setting up a drive for each partition naming them something sane (root, home etc) and cloning the partition from the existing drive – deveneyi Aug 19 '11 at 15:04

I dont have vmware installed here but from memory when you are creating the image in the first place there is an option to split the vmdk files into 2GB chunks set as default.

If you check the size of the files and they are all the same size this is probably why.

I have always disabled this option so I'm not sure about backing up files. I assume there should be 3 different variations of file name (one for each drive) in the directory.

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This could be it. They aren't all 2 GB (in fact, most are closer to 2 MB than 2GB, but some are bigger), but that seems reasonable. Does this mean all hope is generally lost for it being modular as described? – coffee Aug 19 '11 at 13:15
If you want to keep a 'data' drive seperate, you could try detaching the 3rd drive from the vm and recreating it to use a single file. Then you will be able to identify the data drive and backup the others. – Zordey Aug 19 '11 at 13:18
Also you get the option to allocate all of the space when creating the drive, if you don't select that you will end up with small files that will grow up to 2GB in size as they are used. – deveneyi Aug 19 '11 at 14:59

The following post identifies the VMware utility on consolidating/converting to the single file .vmdk format:

How to change a VM from split across multiple .vmdk files to a single one or two?

The .vmdk definitions are based on virtualized drives, not partitions where a single drive can host/contain multiple partitions. Some folks may split partitions across multiple drives for flexibility in utilizing different physical drives with varying performance capabilities (e.g. fast vs. less expensive drives=slower).

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