Vmware ESXi 5.5 Virtual Machine disks running on snapshot

Posted on 2014-12-03
Last Modified: 2016-02-25
I have been reading up on all the great articles here on snapshots and vmware especially this one:
"HOW TO: VMware Snapshots :- Be Patient"   which is an awesome post. My situation is a little different.

I have a VM that VEEAM backup failed to consolidate the snapshot- so it is running on the snapshot and no snapshots show up in manager- all OK But this VM is huge- 2TB database server. It has 2 disks- 60GB OS disk and a 2TB disk for the databases. It is the second disk (of course) that is running off of snapshot.  So my solution instead of making another snapshot and consolidating (or DELETE ALL) would be instead to just delete that disk. Then re-create a new blank disk and restore all my DBs on it. This seems better and faster for my situation not to mention I am not sure I have enough space on the ESXi 5.5 host to do another snapshot- I have good db backups ready to go- just finished testing them all. The OS disk is fine- so my plan is:

1. Shut down VM
2. Delete HD disk running on snapshot
3. Make new HD disk same size.
4. Restart VM and restore dbs to new blank disk.

My question is this: will deleting that HD in a VM's settings - will that delete all the snapshot files and clear the alarm?   Or is there something else I am going to have to do- like going into the file system and deleting snapshot files manually.  I am trying to decide to do it 'my way' or how everyone else does it with consolidation.

Thanks, Marc
Question by:mdoolittle
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LVL 121

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 500 total points
ID: 40479154
Thanks for the comments about my EE Article!

Your procedure is correct, if you delete the disk, it will delete all the files and snapshots associated with it.

Creating a new disk, and transferring the contents is another method.

(you could use a cloning tool, e.g. clonezilla, drive snapshot) to just clone disk to disk, make sure the VM is OFF.
LVL 37

Expert Comment

by:Neil Russell
ID: 40479160
If you do another snapshot it will not immediately consume another 2TB of disk.  You can create a new snapshot and immediately consolidate. You will of course need enough space to consolidate but maybe not as much as you were thinking.
To speed it up shut down your db services first or shutdown the VM
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 40479185
Have you attempted to consolidate the snapshot(s)?  This would be the "ideal" method of resolving this issue.
Please review this VMWare knowledgebase article to assist you in ensuring your VM is actually using the snapshot and not the base disk image,
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Author Comment

ID: 40479213
Yes- the column in vcenter "Needs Consolidation" = Yes for this VM. There are no snapshots in snapshot manager but when I view VM configuration it shows disk file as -0000002.vmdk. The VM's summary page also shows 'Virtual Machine Disks consolidation is needed'-  Viewing it's folder I see the original file at 2TB and this -0000002.vmdk is growing over time- now up to 90 GB.

I just wish I would figure out which method would be faster. I tested how long it takes me to restore my DBs- 2 hours. I can take this machine down- to do consolidation or re-doing HD but I definitely need it up and running tomorrow morning.  Since the time to do consolidation is unknown- and everyone says it can take 'a long time' I was just leaning towards doing the procedure that I knew I could accomplish tonight and have it ready in the morning.
LVL 121
ID: 40479245
Consolidation does not work!

How large is the Snapshot ?

What storage system is in use ?

The way to deal with this is

1. Take a snapshot

2. Wait 60 seconds


BE PATIENT and wait!

Another method is CLONE the VM!

Time taken = size of snapshot and how fast your datastore ?

Author Comment

ID: 40479277
Yeah- Andrew- I was referring to your method- just calling it 'consolidate' I will make sure if I take this path rather than just deleting HD I will take another snapshot and DELETE ALL-   I have the C drive of this machine replicated already to my backup host. I never replicate this 2nd drive- I just back up all the databases. I don't have space to clone it on this host.

I have one host - it's using a local array- the disk array is fast- it's a 10 drive 2.5" SAS RAID 10 array on a Dell R620 with the Perc H710P 1GB ram.

The VM HD is 2 TB and the snapshot it is running on (Since 1AM) is now 94 GB.
LVL 121
ID: 40479302
okay, small snapshot - less than 3.5 hours - ish

quicker if shutdown!

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