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What Is a Virtual Device Driver (VDD)?

A journey into the heart of your computer system unveils an array of interconnected components, all working in harmony to deliver the desired computing experience. One of the unsung heroes in this symphony is the virtual device driver (VDD). This guide aims to shed light on this crucial component, its types, and how it interacts with your system.

Virtual device driver definition

A virtual device driver is a type of device driver that operates within the kernel, the core component of an operating system. As a crucial software interface, it enables the operating system to communicate effectively with the hardware devices. It achieves this by emulating hardware functionalities, enabling multiple applications to run efficiently in their own separate spaces within an operating system. It bridges the gap between a computer system’s hardware and software components, ensuring seamless communication and operations. 

In simpler terms, a virtual device driver plays the role of a translator. It takes the general input/output instructions from the operating system or software applications and translates them into a language that the hardware device can comprehend and act upon. This process ensures smooth communication between the software and hardware, leading to optimal operation of the computer system.

A virtual device driver allows for the simulation of physical hardware in a virtual environment. This feature proves to be extremely useful in scenarios where the hardware may not physically exist, but certain software applications require its functionalities. With the help of a virtual device driver, such applications can function as if the physical hardware is present, thereby enhancing the flexibility and efficiency of the computer system.

Understanding the VxD file extension

Virtual device drivers are also known as VxD on Window 95 devices because the files are named with the .vxd extension. VxD is no longer in use, as newer Windows devices have replaced it with the Windows Driver Model (WDM). A file with the VxD extension is a software component that facilitates interaction between an operating system and hardware devices.

This file functions as a translator, converting the high-level commands from the operating system into language that the hardware can understand. It is worth noting that this type of file is primarily associated with Microsoft’s 16-bit operating systems. Using a VxD file enables efficient communication and operation between a computer system’s software and hardware components. These files are usually loaded during the boot to handle low-level hardware functions.

Opening a VxD file

Opening a VxD file directly is not generally recommended as these files are intended to be accessed by the operating system. However, if necessary, one can use a text editor or a hex editor to view the contents of the file. It’s crucial to remember that any modification to these files should be done with utmost care, considering their critical role in system operations.

Virtual device drivers and virtualization

In the context of device virtualization, the role of Virtual Device Drivers extends to managing various types of virtual devices that can be attached to virtual machines (VMs). This is especially crucial in systems like Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 where distinct types of virtual devices can be presented. The necessity of hardware drivers in the management operating system of a Type-1 hypervisor remains a topic of discussion. In most cases, drivers for these virtual devices are required, making them essential for all major virtualization products.

Finding virtual device drivers in your system:

Locating virtual device drivers in your system is a straightforward process. In Microsoft Windows, for instance, you can use the Device Manager. Here’s how:

  1. Click on the ‘Start’ button and type ‘Device Manager’ into the search box.
  2. Open the Device Manager application.
  3. Expand the categories to see the devices and their drivers. The virtual device drivers are usually listed under the respective device categories they emulate.


Understanding virtual device drivers and their operation allows for a deeper appreciation of the hidden complexities behind everyday computing tasks. From facilitating hardware-software interaction to emulating hardware in virtual environments, these drivers play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth computing experience.

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