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Automatic snapshot rollback with VMware ESXi 4?

Posted on 2010-08-20
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Last Modified: 2013-11-11
We have a ESXi host with a bunch of VMs, some are used for development. The developer would like for the guests to revert back to a fresh state after use. I have snapshots created of a "clean" state. Is there a way to automate this without some 3rd party software?
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Question by:NetworkConsultant01
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33487411
There is no way that I'm aware of to automate reverting a VM (committing snapshots). You may be able to do so via scripting method, but I haven't seen anything on here like that. I know there is no GUI-based solution.

~coolsport00
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by:Neil Russell
ID: 33487556
No automated way I know of but heres some good info on cmdline reverts. You might be able to script something that monitors the VM, see's it shut down and so reverts to prior state.
http://communities.vmware.com/message/1358418 
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bgoering earned 500 total points
ID: 33487907
Yes, actually that is a doable thing. Set up the virtual machine as you would like it to be. Power down the VM. Edit the settings on the VM and for each hard disk drive check the box that says Independent, then select the non-persistent option. Save your configuration away.

Now when someone powers the VM on they can work along and do whatever they want. When the vm is powered off it will revert back to the state where you have configured it and start from there again next time you power it on.

With this method no (user managed) snapshots are utilized, the system creates a delta file (kind of like a snapshot) for the vm to log disk changes to while it is running, then reverts it back by deleting the delta file when the vm is powered off.

Good Luck
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by:davismisbehavis
ID: 33491375
bgoering's solution will definitely work, just be sure the machines are actually getting switched off.  I have seen VM's in this mode being left on for ages, developers doing lots of work on them (SQL servers) and VMFS datastore space being chewed up real quick by the delta files.  You don't want to find yourself in a situation where there is no space left at all and you cannot manually commit the snapshots, it's just a pain to recover from.

What I would do in addition to bgoering's solution is create scheduled restarts of the machine to ensure wiping takes place and storage space does not become a concern.
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by:bgoering
ID: 33491382
Actually the snapshots never get committed in this mode. They get deleted without committing when the VM is powered off. davismisbehavis is correct though - the snapshots can grow a quite a bit over time.
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by:davismisbehavis
ID: 33491407
Sorry,  totally correct this is a discard not a commit scenario.  I'm thinking of the various times when I have discovered snapshots I actually do need to commit and have no space.
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