If you are looking for a more technical explanation of persistent vs non persistent desktops and how this applies to VMware Horizon View, please read the following article: Persistent vs Non Persistent Virtual Desktops (Horizon View Technical Explanation)


What is a non-persistent virtual desktop?

Pros: Storage utilisation/costs, desktop update/management, increased security

Cons: User installed applications not possible

A non-persistent virtual desktop does not retain any data on the desktop itself after a logoff or reboot. This includes any data such as user settings, application settings, internet bookmarks and so on. Instead this data is retained using another method such as folder redirection to store user settings in a central location and applied to any desktop they logon to.

Additionally a non-persistent desktop does not allow a user to install an application and retain it across logons, however another solution utilising application virtualisation with ThinApp, can enable an application to be assigned to a number of users which is available on any desktop they logon to.

When using a non-persistent desktop a user is not assigned any specific desktop, this is because all desktops are identical and created from a single master image. At each logoff the desktop is recreated from the master image. By using non-persistent desktops this provisioning method provides several benefits. Such as a reduction in storage requirements of around 80% resulting in cost savings, easier maintenance of desktops for updates as only the master images need updating, the desktops are then re-created at logoff with the updated master image. Security is increased as a desktop may only exist for 1 day before being re-created from the clean master image. User settings data is also backed up centrally.


What is a persistent virtual desktop?

Pros: Users own applications, personal desktop

Cons: Storage utilisation/costs, desktop update/management, decreased security

A persistent desktop retains data on the desktop itself between logons and reboots. This includes all data such as user settings, applications, internet bookmarks and so on and does not require other other methods of copying data to additional desktops. Additionally a user can have an application installed directly on their desktop which will be retained for them to use and does not require all users having it on their desktop or virtualising the application.

When using a persistent desktop a user is assigned a single specific desktop that is only for their use. This ensures they can access their desktop with all their settings and installed applications. Desktops are created from a master image but not re-created after use.

By using persistent desktops the provisioning method used increase the storage usage compare to non-persistent desktops. As there is a desktop for each user, their settings and application, which may be 25-35 GB in size per desktop, which increases storage costs. Additionally because the desktops are not re-created from the master image at logoff the desktop updates and other changes must be managed by another solution such as Altiris, WSUS or SCCM which increases management overheads. Security is not as strong as non-persistent desktops because persistent desktops may not be re-created for several months or years without requiring a user to install their applications again and user settings are not backed up centrally.


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