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How can you disable snapshots in vSphere 6?

Reducing the number of snapshots that you have could boost performance. Here's how to disable snapshots completely.

Snapshots are a major means of protecting workloads, helping to ensure quick restoration, rollback or recovery...

when trouble strikes. But an extensive snapshot regimen is certainly no obligation. Despite the ability to preserve data at any point in time, some choose to disable snapshots. Organizations may limit snapshots to save storage capacity and guard workload performance, while eliminating snapshots outright when the circumstances dictate it.

How do I disable snapshots in vSphere 6?

VM administrators using vSphere 6 can alter the number of snapshots that can be performed on a virtual machine using the snapshot.MaxSnapshots parameter. By default, the maximum number of snapshots is 32. Reducing the number of snapshots can save storage capacity and perhaps boost performance for performance-sensitive VMs or host systems. But setting the parameter to a value of zero should effectively disable snapshots for the selected VM.

First, power down the VM with vSphere Web Client, then choose the VM to be adjusted and select Edit Settings. Click Options, General and Configuration Parameters. Click Add Row and then add a line such as:

snapshot.MaxSnapshots – 0

Now click OK to save any changes and power on the VM again.

This tactic to disable snapshots is reported to work in vSphere 6, but there is a wrinkle -- you can't have any snapshots present for the VM. If you do, the change may not take hold -- you can't logically say zero snapshots for a VM if that VM has one or more snapshots present. This often results in a CannotDisableSnapshot error message. This means you should first delete any snapshots for the VM, or consolidate any snapshots so that the changes are written to the base .vmdk file. Now try disabling the snapshots.

Once you have successfully disabled snapshots, you cannot take subsequent snapshots without drawing an error message indicating that you've exceeded the maximum number of permitted snapshots -- if the max is zero, any snapshot attempt will cause an error message.

If you decide to restore snapshots later or adjust the number of snapshots retained, just change the number from zero to the desired number of snapshots -- up to a maximum of 32.

Next Steps

How to take advantage of VM snapshots in a virtual desktop environment

Snapshots just aren't enough for data protection sometimes

How do Hyper-V snapshots work?

This was last published in April 2016

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What situation would cause you to disable snapshots?
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