What does Hyper-V Integration Services actually provide?

Just like every other hypervisor on the planet, Hyper-V includes a set of tools – software and drivers – that gets installed to a hosted virtual machine.  These tools, called Integration Services in Hyper-V, perform a variety of functions.  Here’s a look at the screen in the virtual machine settings that lets you decide which Integration Services features you can enable or disable; by default, all services are enabled.

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Operating system shutdown. Allows the Hyper-V Manager to shut down a virtual machine as if the shut down were being initiated by a user logged into the VM.  This is a clean way to shut down a virtual machine.

Time synchronization. Avoids the issue of potential time drift – time mismatch between the host and the guest – by regularly synchronizing the VM’s clock with that of the host.

Data Exchange. Responsible for exchanging management information between the host and guest.  This includes the host name, OS version, build number and more.  This service also facilitates host-based management scripting.

Heartbeat. Allows the Hyper-V host to determine when a gust may have locked up, crashed or faced a similar issue.  No proactive corrective action will be taken except that the issue will be logged and, if appropriate monitoring systems are in place that watch logs, an administrator will be notified from there.

Backup (volume snapshot).  Enables online backups of the Hyper-V virtual machine.  Without this services, a Hyper-V VM would need to be taken offline for a backup to be performed.

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