When to take a snapshot of Vcenter VM

Posted on 2014-02-02
Last Modified: 2014-02-17
Out Vcenter is a virtual machine, I would like to know in which scenario should I take a snapshot of it:

- when updating windows OS (I believe I should take snapshot)
-when upgrading to a new Build ,example from 5.1.0 to 5.1.2
-when upgrading from 5.1.2 to 5.5

Assuming Upgrade is either uninstalling the old venter version and reinstalling new version.
upgrading to a new version without uninstalling the old version

Question by:jskfan
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LVL 121

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 375 total points
ID: 39827625
We are not fans of Snapshots, at ALL, so we would say NEVER!

By Taking a Snapshot, you are creating a delta or differencing disk, where all the changes you make to the OS, are created, performance of the VM gets worse running on a snapshot.

then, when you are finished, you Delete the Snapshot, which can take time, to merge the changes, depending on how long, and how large the snapshot is.

The danger is the snapshot does not merge, datastore space runs out of storage, and the merge process, causes poor VM performance.

AND, before you make ANY CHANGES to a VM in Production, it's GOOD Practice, to have a FULL BACKUP, not a Snapshot.

SO, I would recommend you Take and have FULL BACKUPS of ANY VM, before you make any changes to the VM.

HOW TO: VMware Snapshots :- Be Patient

You can also use the CLONE operation (as a backup!)

Author Comment

ID: 39828192
If I understand , snapshots will be good just when you do Guest OS updates, not Vmware related updates?
for instance if I need to update Virtual Machine virtual hardware or VM Tools, or upgrade Vcenter build, or uninstall /reinstall Vcenter Application, the snapshot will not be helpful in this case.?
LVL 121

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 375 total points
ID: 39828214
We are not fans of Snapshots, at ALL, so we would say NEVER!

Take a FULL Backup of the VM before any change.

You CANNOT role Backup some VMs.

e.g. Exchange Mail servers, SQL Servers, Active  Directory Domain Controllers.

Do not use Snapshots, you will regret it!
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Author Comment

ID: 39828546
I am not Fan of snapshots either,,
however I do not know the purpose of Vmware having Snapshot Manager there…
in which case it is recommended to use Snapshot Manager to take a snapshot?
LVL 121

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 375 total points
ID: 39828553
If you want to use the Snapshot feature, go ahead, but you would be well advised to make sure you have FULL Backups before making any changes to Production Machines.

VMware have introduced Snapshots, so Backups can work, and it's a feature from VMware Workstation, more often than not Admins do not know how to use them, and get into difficulty.

and Post questions here on EE.

To use snapshot, select Take Snapshot before you do you changes.

Author Comment

ID: 39828618
I am just trying to understand why Vmware came up with snapshots. they got to have a purpose when to use them
LVL 121
ID: 39828939
You can use them anytime, but the responsibility is on the Administrator, when to use them, and what to use them for.

This is the issue Administrators, do not understand, the issues, they can cause, which I have listed.

e.g. if you patch a Domain Controller, and it goes wrong, would you Revert a Snapshot? (e.g. rollback all the changes in the Domain Controller, e.g. go back it time?)
LVL 20

Accepted Solution

compdigit44 earned 125 total points
ID: 39831051
One side note,  like Hancock has mention snapshots are good but with anything in life must be used with moderation. Here is vmware best practices guides for snapshots..

Also when upgrading vcenter the upgrade makes schema updates which affects your DB as well.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39865757
Thank you

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