Can You Create A Virtual Machine inside A Virtual Machine

Have you ever had the sudden idea of running a virtual machine inside a virtual machine? Is it possible? How to enable it? This article will answer these questions.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

Can you create a virtual machine inside a virtual machine

As you are freely exploring the virtual world, after you installed an operating system on a virtual machine, for example, install Windows Server 2016 on virtual machine, a sudden thought may occur to you: can you create a virtual machine inside a virtual machine? Can you install VMware inside VMware?

The answer is YES. It is possible running a virtual machine inside a virtual machine. This configuration is known as nested virtualization.

Create a virtual machine inside a virtual machine

In this article, I will introduce more details about nested virtual machine, and demonstrate how to create a virtual machine inside a virtual machine on VMware Workstation.

What is nested virtualization

Nested virtualization refers to virtualization that runs inside an already virtualized environment. In other words, it's the ability to run a hypervisor inside of a virtual machine, which itself runs on a hypervisor. The virtual machines running on a virtual hypervisor are called nested virtual machines.

Hyper-V nested virtualization

Nested virtualization requirements

  • Hardware: 64-bit physical Intel CPU with VT-x/EPT, or AMD CPU with that AMD-v/RVI features.
  • Software: Hypervisor that support nested virtualization.

Hypervisors support nested virtualization

In fact, not all hypervisors support nested virtualization. Hypervisors that support nested virtualization including:

Type-1 hypervisors: VMware ESXi, KVM, Hyper-V.

Type-2 hypervisors: VMware Workstation, VMware Player, VMware Fusion, VirtualBox.

Tip: You can refer to Type-1 Hypervisor vs Type-2 to learn about the difference between them.

When to use nested virtualization

Although nested virtualization is possible, it is not commonly recommended since it can lead to significant performance degradation of nested virtual machines. Therefore, nested virtualization is typically used for virtualization training and testing purposes.

How to configure nested virtualization on Hyper-V

1. Select the target Hyper-V virtual machine which you want to create nested virtual machine inside it, and then power it off.

Note: Hyper-V nested VMs does not support dynamic memory. Please select a virtual machine of fixed memory.

Power off Hyper-V VM

2. Launch Windows PowerShell on the physical Hyper-V host as administrator, and then run the following command to enable nested virtualization.

Set-VMProcessor -VMName -ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $true

PowerShell enable nested virtualization

3. Then you can power on the target virtual machine and install Hypervisors, create virtual machines inside the virtual machine.

Hyper-V nested virtual machine

Protect your VMs with a free VM backup software

Nested virtual machines are not very improved in data security. However, there is a more significant degradation in performance, especially when your hardware is not advanced enough. Therefore, you may still need a backup solution to protect your VM data.

Here I introduce you to a free virtual machine backup software -- AOMEI Cyber Backup. It offers you the following benefits.

Image-level Multiple VM Backup: independent image-level VM backups can be used to create new VMs.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate virtual machine protection.
Restore Entire VM: restore immediately available VMs from any selected restore points.
Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Perpetual Free: you can use AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition with no time limit.

Using AOMEI Cyber Backup you can centrally manage VMs on VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions, as well as Hyper-V in Windows 8/8.1/10/11, Windows Server/Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and later versions.

Next, I will demonstrate how to create an automatic backup task that covers multiple Hyper-V VMs. You can click the following button to download the freeware.

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

3 simple steps to backup multiple Hyper-V VMs via AOMEI Cyber Backup

1. Bind Devices: Access AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware ESXi > + Add Hyper-V to add a host, and then click > Bind Device.

Note: Once bound the host you do not need to repeat this step later.

Add Hyper-V host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task and click + Create New Task. Set the Task Name, Device, Target, and Schedule as needed.

Create a Hyper-V backup task

  • Device: select VMs on the host covered in one backup task.
  • Target: selecting to back up to a local path, or to a network path. Used paths will be saved in Favorite Storage for handy selection.
  • Schedule: performing full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution daily, weekly or monthly according to the frequency you specified.

Set up a backup schedule

3. Start Backup: You can select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Backup Hyper-V VM with AOMEI Cyber Backup

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately, for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.

While the Free Edition covers most of VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
Batch VM backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or on standalone ESXi hosts.
Backup cleanup: Configure a retention policy to auto delete old backup files and save storage space.
Restore to new location: Create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saves the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Restore from new location


Can you create a virtual machine inside a virtual machine? The answer is YES. If you are considering about running a virtual machine inside a virtual machine, nested virtualization is what you are looking for.

In this article, I introduced what is nested virtualization and showed how to enable it on Hyper-V as an example. Hope it could answer your question.

As you are using virtual machines, perform regular virtual machine backup can effectively protect your VM data. You can try AOMEI Cyber Backup to do this for you.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.