When you install Workstation on a Windows or Linux host system, a host-only network (VMnet1) is set up for you. Host-only networking is useful if you need to set up an isolated virtual network. In a host-only network, the virtual machine and the host virtual network adapter are connected to a private Ethernet network. The network is completely contained within the host system.

The network connection between the virtual machine and the host system is provided by a virtual network adapter that is visible on the host operating system. The virtual DHCP server provides IP addresses on the host-only network.

Host-Only Networking Configuration
Network connection between a virtual machine and a host computer using a network adapter.

In the default configuration, a virtual machine in a host-only network cannot connect to the Internet. If you install the proper routing or proxy software on the host system, you can establish a connection between the host virtual network adapter and a physical network adapter on the host system to connect the virtual machine to a Token Ring or other non-Ethernet network.

On a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 host computer, you can use host-only networking in combination with the Internet connection sharing feature in Windows to allow a virtual machine to use the dial-up networking adapter or other connection to the Internet on the host system. See Microsoft documentation for information on configuring Internet connection sharing.

When you install Workstation on a Windows or Linux host system, a host-only network (VMnet1) is set up for you. You might want to configure multiple host-only networks to manage network traffic between virtual machines in specific ways.

You can configure host-only networking for an existing virtual machine. You can connect a virtual network adapter to the default host-only network (VMnet1) or to a custom host-only network. If a virtual machine has two virtual network adapters, you can connect it to two host-only networks.

If you are setting up a complex test network that uses virtual machines, you might want to have two independent host-only networks with a router between them.

Each host-only network should be confined to the host system on which it is set up. Packets that virtual machines send on this network should not leak out to a physical network attached to the host system. Packet leakage can occur only if a machine actively forwards packets.

A host-only network has a network interface associated with it (vmnet1) that is marked up when the host operating system is booted. Routing server processes that operate on the host operating system automatically discover the host-only network and propagate information on how to reach the network, unless you explicitly configure them not to do so.

The virtual DHCP server in Workstation cannot update a DNS server by using a Dynamic Domain Name Service (DDNS). For this reason, you should use DHCP to supply IP addresses as well as other information, such as the identity of a host running a name server and the nearest router or gateway.