Clone VM with all snapshots

I have inherited a VMware ESX 3.5 environment that is out of date.  I have several VMs within this environment that have lots of snapshots associated with them.

I want to commit these snapshots to the VM and regain valuable disk space.

The problem is because these machines are very critical and MUST remain online, I can't just down the VM and then copy the files somewhere else in case of problems.

I want to know if there is a way to backup or clone a VM with ALL associated snapshots in the event of a problem after commiting the out of date snapshots (some are 2 years old)

I am using ESX 3.5 and Vcenter 2.5.

I am not adverse to updating if there is a way to do it without downtime.

Thanks in advance
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
One way of completing this operation is to use Veeam FastFCP (free to download) to login into the ESX server, and browse to the Datastore and FCP ALL the files off.

depending on the size this could take a few hours, and the VM will need to be off, so you'll have to schedule some downtime to do this operation.

Also a word of caution, if the snapshots are very large, it can take many hours to commit the snapshot.

Another way would be to Clone Out the Machine to a new machine if you have vCenter or use VMware Convertor Standalone to convert the machine to a new Machine without snapshots.

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
with many snapshots, VMware often recommend the VMware Convertor process.
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
I am not a person who supports backing up VMs with snapshots since snapshots eat up valuable disk space.

In my opinion, snapshots act as a boon / bane depending on circumstances.

The time taken to restore a VM with snapshots also increases considerably depending on how the snapshots are nested.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Snapshots are not a backup tool!
Luciano PatrãoICT Senior Infraestructure  Engineer  Commented:

That is the problem of many costumers, they use snapshots as the Backup process.

Snapshots are a temporarily backup of the state VM, nothing more.

Clone, convert any of this VMs will never copy the snapshots.

Even use the Veeam FastFCP you will not by able to copy this VMs online. They need to power off to copy.

You can use the Veeam Backup & Replication(you 30 days trial with full features). This can make an image backup or just a copy(depending of the option) of each VM online. But again, this only will backup/copy the VM, not the snapshots.

Never tested this, but try to create a copy(with Veeam Backup) then manually use the  Veeam FastFCP to copy the snapshots. I never tested this, so I do not know if this can work and use after the snapshots on that copy.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
As stated above you will not regain free space but performance will improve.
Coast-ITAuthor Commented:
A simple yet rewarding answer.  v2v the machine and power that on in case of snapshot failure.  minimal downtime in the unlikely event of failure.
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