There are many best practices when it comes to managing, administering, and configuring a Microsoft Hyper-V environment.

Hyper-V is an enterprise-grade virtualization platform that allows hosting business-critical workloads in a highly-available, and resilient platform. When looking at key components of Hyper-V to ensure the guest virtual machines perform as expected, Hyper-V administrators must give proper attention to the Hyper-V Integration Services.

In this post, we’ll take a look at:

  • What are Hyper-V Integration services?
  • How to install and update Hyper-V Integration Services?

What are Hyper-V Integration Services?

Hyper-V integration services are the component that runs on the Hyper-V guest virtual machines that enhance virtual machine performance and provide features to the guest virtual machine from the Hyper-V host that extend the capabilities and features available to the Hyper-V guest virtual machines. Some of these capabilities include the ability to perform guest file copies. More importantly, the Hyper-V Integration Services provide the synthetic device drivers to the guest virtual machines. The Hyper-V Integration Services install a set of services that are called integration components.

These set of services include the following:

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  • Volume Shadow Copy Requestor – Allows Volume Shadow Copy Service to back up the virtual machine without shutting it down. The Hyper-V Integration Service is required for Volume Shadow Copy Service.

    The VSS service captures and copies images for backup on running systems, with minimal impact on performance and stability. Processes are coordinated between the VM and the host backup process.

    • Windows – vmicvss, Linux – hv_vss_daemon
    • When this service is not running, the VM cannot be backed up while running the VSS process on the host
  • Data exchange – Provides a way to exchange basic metadata between the Hyper-V host and the virtual machine.

    Using key-value pairs, the Hyper-V host and the virtual machine share various machine information between them. The data exchange service allows preserving information about the virtual machine for interactive data sharing and transfer.

    • Windows – vmickvpexchange, Linux – hv_kvp_daemon
    • When the service isn’t running, Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 and earlier will not receive updates to Hyper-V Integration Services. This may also impact monitoring and host-side diagnostics
  • Heartbeat – Reports that the virtual machine booted correctly and is running correctly
    • Windows – vmicheartbeat, Linux – hv_utils
    • Without this service enabled, virtual machines can’t report the health of the operating system running in the guest virtual machine and that it is running properly. Monitoring and host-side diagnostics may be impacted without the service running
    • Check the status of the Heartbeat service – Get-VM -VMName $VMName | select Name, State, Status
  • Guest Service Interface – Provides an interface for the Hyper-V host to be able to copy files back and forth with the virtual machine
    • Windows – vmicguestinterface, Linux – hv_fcopy_daemon
    • When this service is not running, the host cannot copy files between the virtual machine, to and from, using the Copy-VMFile cmdlet
  • Guest Shutdown – Allows the host to trigger virtual machines shut down. This is different than a Power off as the power off request is like “flipping a power switch”. The guest shutdown is a graceful shutdown operation of the guest operating system.
    • Windows – vmictimesync, Linux – hv_utils
    • Without the service enabled the host won’t be able to perform a graceful shutdown of the guest operating system if requested. Any shutdown without this service will be a hard power-off which can lead to issues with data corruption
  • Time synchronization – Allows synchronizing the virtual machine’s clock with the Hyper-V host
    • Windows – vmictimesync, Linux – hv_utils
    • Without the service enabled, the guest virtual machine time clock will be extremely unstable, perhaps drifting wildly
  • PowerShell Direct Service – This service allows managing the VM with PowerShell via a VM session without a virtual network. Regardless of any network configuration or remote management settings either on the Hyper-V host or guest VM, administrators will be able to perform management, automation, and configuration tasks on the guest virtual machine.
    • Windows – vmicvmsession, Linux – N/A
    • Without this service, the host will not be able to connect to the guest VM with PowerShell Direct

Installing Hyper-V Integration Services

Microsoft has made great strides in providing a better way for Hyper-V Integration Services to be initially installed and maintained. In legacy versions of Windows clients/servers and Hyper-V environments, the Hyper-V Integration Services had to be installed manually and maintained manually which lead to a great deal of Hyper-V management overhead. Also, the Integration Services were linked to a specific Hyper-V version and as such, moving between versions required you to make sure the Integration Services were updated between migrations between the various hosts.

Microsoft introduced a paradigm shift in Hyper-V Integration Services when they started including all the Integration Services in the modern client and server operating systems released in recent years besides the Hyper-V Guest Service Interface. This means the Hyper-V Integration Services are now automatically installed.

Additionally, the updates to Hyper-V Integration Services are now included in the updates that are pulled down from Windows Updates. With Windows Server 2016, the Integration Service versions are rolled out with the normal virtual machine updates and aren’t tied to the specific Hyper-V version running on the host. This happens for most Windows guest by default if they are set up to get important updates from Windows Update.

Microsoft also supports built-in Integration Services with supported Linux distributions. These are referred to as LIS packages or (Linux Integration Services). Generally speaking, as is the case with Windows versions, the latest supported Linux distributions have the LIS packages already built into the distribution, so there is no installation needed.

Complete List of Linux Support – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/virtualization/hyper-v/Supported-Linux-and-FreeBSD-virtual-machines-for-Hyper-V-on-Windows
Download the latest Linux Integration Services package for Hyper-V – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=55106

Linux guests that are using the current kernels will receive the latest Linux Integration Services when the update is applied to the kernel.

Updating Hyper-V Integration Services

As mentioned earlier, Hyper-V Integration Services have been decoupled from the Windows client/server versions of Windows 10/Server 2016 and updates are pulled from Windows Updates. Any updating of Windows clients/servers older than Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 must be updated manually. This can be easily done using the Hyper-V Manager GUI interface, using the following process:

  1. Launch Hyper-V Manager
  2. Click the virtual machine you want to update
  3. Click Connect
  4. Select the Action menu option
  5. Select Insert Integration Services Setup Disk
  6. Inside the guest virtual machine, select the DVD drive with the installation files
  7. Right-click the DVD drive and select Install Hyper-V Integration Services
  8. The installation/upgrade of Hyper-V Integration Services will begin
  9. Reboot your client/server
  10. Verify the version of Hyper-V Integration Services in the Hyper-V Manager VM Summary information

Managing Hyper-V Integration Services Configuration

Microsoft has provided a lot of ways to manage the Hyper-V Integration Services by using Hyper-V Manager, PowerShell, and even the Windows Services console.

Managing Hyper-V Integration Services from Hyper-V Manager

Navigate to Management >> Integration Services and you will see the list of Services presented to the guest operating system. If you want to change which services interact with the guest OS, you can check or uncheck these.

The Hyper-V Integration Services can be controlled by the virtual machine properties

The Hyper-V Integration Services can be controlled by the virtual machine properties

Using PowerShell to Check the Status of Integration Services and Version

One of the quickest and easiest ways to check the status of the guest operating system integration services is by using PowerShell.

With PowerShell, you can query virtual machines for the status of the various Integration Services and their statuses.

  • Use the command – Get-VMIntegrationService -VMName “
  • Getting the status of Integration Services presented to a virtual machine with PowerShell

    Getting the status of Integration Services presented to a virtual machine with PowerShell

    To query the version of Integration Services that are installed on the guest operating system, from PowerShell you can query the registry within the guest operating system.

  • Reg query “HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Virtual Machine\Auto” /v IntegrationServicesVersion
  • Querying the Integration Services version using PowerShell and Reg Query

    Querying the Integration Services version using PowerShell and Reg Query

    To turn on or off guest Integration services by their specific names, you can use PowerShell to do that.

  • Enable-VMIntegrationService -VMName “” -Name “Guest Service Interface”
  • Disable-VMIntegrationService -VMName “” -Name “Guest Service Interface”

Managing Hyper-V Integration Services from Guest Operating System Services Console

While managing the Hyper-V Integration Services from the Hyper-V host side is arguably the most efficient, you can also start and stop Hyper-V Integration Services from the guest operating system as well. This can be done via several means including the Windows Services console as well as using PowerShell to control the services.

Since the Hyper-V integration Services are literal Windows Services, you can interact and manage them from a guest operating system perspective as you would any other Windows Service.

Let’s look at using the Windows Services console. To use the Windows Services Console to manage Hyper-V Integration Services:

  1. Launch the Windows Services console – services.msc
  2. Scroll down to the list of Hyper-V Integration Services with the Display name like “Hyper-V*”
  3. Right-click the services and control them using the context menu to select the desired action

As you can see in the screenshot below, the Hyper-V Integration Services are listed as Hyper-V * in the Display Name. You can right-click and control the services as expected.

Using Windows Services Console to manage Hyper-V Integration Services

Using Windows Services Console to manage Hyper-V Integration Services

Managing Hyper-V Integration Services from Guest Operating System PowerShell Console

You can have equal control over the Hyper-V Integration Services using PowerShell. Powershell is a much faster and more powerful way of interacting with Windows Services than using the Windows Services console. PowerShell can be used for easy automation of administrative tasks and mass configuration of guest virtual machine Windows Services.

You can get a list of all the Hyper-V Integration Services using the Get-Service cmdlet.

Get-Service -Displayname “Hyper*”

Using PowerShell to interact with Windows services

Using PowerShell to interact with Windows services

You can Start/Stop Hyper-V Integration Services with Powershell using the following cmdlet syntax:

Start-Service -DisplayName “Hyper-V*”
Stop-Service -DisplayName “Hyper-V*”

Why you should choose Vembu BDR Suite for Hyper-V Backups

Keeping your Hyper-V Integration Services running smoothly in your Hyper-V environment is key to ensuring your Hyper-V guest virtual machines run smoothly and efficiently as well as perform as expected. Managing and updating Hyper-V Integration Services is a critical part of the overall process. Even with running Hyper-V Integration Services in your guest virtual machines, you still need to give attention to your data. Backups are a cornerstone process in your overall data protection strategy for Hyper-V.

Vembu BDR Suite is an extremely powerful Hyper-V backup and replication solution with the ability to protect Hyper-V virtual machines running on standalone Hyper-V hosts and also Hyper-V clusters. Vembu provides a much more robust replication solution – Backup to Offsite & Cloud and allows you to effectively meet 3-2-1 backup objectives.

Vembu allows you to store copies of backups offsite in public cloud environments as well as the Vembu DRaaS cloud. It provides an industry-leading migration solution built into the product with the ability to instantly transition your Hyper-V or VMware backups between platforms which provides a quick and easy way to overcome data migration challenges and migrating data in times of disaster.

Be sure to download the full-featured trial version of Vembu BDR Suite that allows you to test out the Hyper-V backup and replication features in your own lab & production environment for free!

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Installing and Managing Hyper-V Integration Services – A Short Guide
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