VMware snapshots explained

VMware snapshots are a lifesaver. If things go wrong, VMware snapshots can restore a VM back to normal. But if they’re managed poorly, virtualization performance may suffer.

With VMware snapshots, IT pros don’t need to bite their nails while installing a patch or upgrading an application. If something goes wrong with a virtual machine, you can simply revert to previous working state.

A VMware snapshot is a copy of Virtual Machine Disk file at a particular moment in time. By taking multiple snapshots, you can have several restore points for a virtual machine (VM). While more VMware snapshots will improve the resiliency of your infrastructure, you must balance those needs against the storage space they consume.

Ultimately, virtual machine snapshots are an important aspect of any VMware infrastructure. Even if they aren’t used frequently, VMware snapshots provide peace of mind before drastic changes are made, and you won’t have to worry about a new junior admin causing too much trouble in the virtual infrastructure.

For a detailed look at VMware snapshots, check out the following resources.

How VMware snapshots work
If you’re curious about the minutia of VMware snapshots, look no further. You’ll learn about the different files that comprise a VMware snapshot, the rate in which snapshots grow, as well as how to create and delete snapshots. This information is useful for devising a maintenance schedule for the creation, retention and deletion of VMware snapshots.

Deleting virtual machine snapshots without wasting disk space
Deleting virtual machine snapshots may negatively affect a virtual infrastructure in several ways. For example, host and VM performance can suffer as snapshots are deleted, or committed. Also, depending on your hypervisor version, you may need additional storage space to house temporary files as a snapshot is deleted. But there are ways to mitigate the issues associated with deleting VMware snapshots.

Troubleshooting VMware snapshots
Snapshots may cause unforeseeable issues from time to time. When those problems crop up, it’s important to quickly and efficiently troubleshoot VMware snapshots. Luckily, the process has become easier since the days of VMware Infrastructure 3. If you follow these steps, you’ll return your snapshots and infrastructure performance back to normal. 

Virtual machine and VMware snapshot guide
Even if their overall benefits remain the same, different virtualization platforms handle snapshot creation and management differently. As such, it’s important to have a firm grasp of the how virtual machine snapshots work for each platform. After all, when a VM malfunctions, you don’t want to keep an application owner waiting too long.

This was first published in September 2011

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