Vmware Snapshot

Posted on 2010-09-04
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Vmware has a snapshot feature. Is this a backup of the VM machine? where does it store the backup?

Why would people use Esxranger or other third party instead of just  taking a snapshot using vmware built in option?

Question by:jskfan
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Accepted Solution

coolsport00 earned 215 total points
ID: 33604958
Absolutely, positively no...snapshots are NOT to be used as any kind of backup/recovery solution. And that is VMware's official stance. They are to be used for *temporary* recovery points only. You use snapshots solely for tasks such as performing OS or app-level updates. You take a snap prior to the update that way if the update 'breaks' the OS or app, you revert to the previous state. If after the update, all is well (usually can tell within a day or 2), you should immediately remove the snapshot as it can grow and take up space. The snap file (or files) are contained within the VM's file directory. I can't comment on 3rd party tools...not used them before.

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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 72 total points
ID: 33604975
Good answer, also I'd like to add depending on the rate of change on the vm your snapshots would be very large the snapshot would then be too large too commit and merge with the original disk.

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coolsport00 earned 215 total points
ID: 33604983
Pg. 205 of the Basic Admin Guide: as well as this VMware Snapshot Best Practice:, explains more about snapshot use.

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EnriquePhoenix earned 71 total points
ID: 33605112
By default, the snapshot of your VM’s are created in the same folder where the VM exist. You can move the default location by modifying the vmx file. A disk "snapshot" is a copy of the virtual machine disk file (VMDK) at a certain point in time. It preserves the disk file system and system memory of your VM by enabling you to revert to the snapshot in case something goes wrong. As mentioned earlier watch-out for space usage. I use snapshots when doing updates and installing apps on my VM, but I never let them run for a couple of days before deleting (Merging) them.
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danm66 earned 71 total points
ID: 33605588
Most backup utilities, including VCB, VDR, Veeam, ESXRanger, etc...  will take a snapshot to free up the base disk(s) while the backup is ran.  For this reason, you want to monitor your systems if you are using any of those VMware-aware backup utilities to make sure that the snapshots are successfully deleted after the backup has completed.

ESX snapshots are more akin to a changelog or a db transaction log.  They do not duplicate the existing disk contents (like a SAN snapshot does with a volume), but instead create a second disk that just tracks the changes from base and/or previous snapshot.  This makes them a performance hog as every write to disk within the vm causes a file lock request, and if a new block is required to hold the change, then it must get the block from disk, zero it out, write the data, then unlock the disk.  This is very costly in terms of IOPs and will sap your performance; which is a big part of the reason they are not to be used for any length of time especially on vm's that do a lot of IO like a database.
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roylong earned 71 total points
ID: 33605900
for one of the best vmware backup solutions, take a look at vPower by Veeam.  It's the evolution of their veeam backup solution which backs up VMs very well.  The new features include the ability to test the validity of your VM backups after backup.

Author Comment

ID: 33613631
a- So Snapshot is still a backup of the VM (Vmdk)?
if the VM machines crashes during the upgrade or patch deployment or software install, we'll still be able to recover from the snapshot???

b- If I just copy the vmdk file to another location would be considered as a backup ??
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coolsport00 earned 215 total points
ID: 33613660
A. Yes
B. You should copy the whole VM folder, but using just the vmdk would would just need to create a new VM with no hard disk (virtual disk), then add the VMDK b/u to your new VM.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 33613695
thanks guys

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