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Consolidating snapshots in vSphere 5.x (2003638)


This article describes how to consolidate snapshots in vSphere 5.x.


Note: For information on consolidating snapshots in earlier releases of ESXi/ESX, see Consolidating snapshots (1007849).

When initiating Delete or DeleteAll operations on snapshots, the snapshot details are deleted from Snapshot Manager, then the snapshot files are consolidated and merged to another snapshot file or to the virtual machine parent disk. If the consolidation fails, there were no snapshots shown in the Snapshot Manager, but the snapshot files were still being used on the datastore. This can cause an unmonitored datastore to run out of space.

In vSphere 5.x, you are now informed when a virtual machine snapshot consolidation fails. Administrators can initiate a consolidate operation from the vSphere Client, rather than from the ESXi command line. The vSphere Client now shows a Configuration Issue warning in the Summary tab when a virtual machine snapshot consolidation fails.

Note: The ESXi host that the virtual machine is registered on must be an ESXi 5.x host.

Checking if virtual machine consolidation is required

To check if virtual machine consolidation is required:
  1. Select a vCenter Server host or a cluster and click the Virtual Machines tab.
  2. Right-click the menu bar for any virtual machine column and click Needs Consolidation. The Needs Consolidation column appears.

    • A Yes status indicates that the snapshot files for the virtual machine should be consolidated and that the virtual machine's Tasks and Events tab shows a configuration problem.
    • A No status indicates that the files are OK.

    Note: A Configuration Issue warning is also displayed in the Summary tab of the virtual machine indicating that virtual machine disk consolidation is needed.

Consolidating snapshots for a virtual machine

Note: Before proceeding, ensure to consider these points related to snapshot consolidation:
  • The remove snapshot process can take a long time to complete if the snapshots are large. 
  • If the consolidation process is stopped before completing, it may result in data corruption. 
  • The virtual machine performance may be degraded while the snapshot consolidation process.
  • It is recommended to take the VM down before consolidating snapshot(s). This will speed the consolidation.

To consolidate snapshots:
  1. Right-click the virtual machine and click Snapshot > Consolidate.
  2. Check the Need Consolidation column to verify that the task succeeded. To check the Consolidation progress see Commands to monitor snapshot deletion in ESX 2.5/3.x/4.x and ESXi 3.x/4.x/5.x (1007566)

    If the task succeeded, the Configuration Issues message clears and the Needs Consolidation value is No.
Note: The consolidate option allows you to consolidate the delta disks into the base disk when there are no snapshots shown in the Snapshot Manager. It does not fix the underlying issue that may have caused this to occur initially.

Consolidating snapshots may be required when:

Note: There may be occasions where using the Consolidate option does not work. A snapshot configuration file (with the .vmsd extension) in the virtual machine directory may interfere with consolidation of the snapshots, and it may be necessary to rename it, move it to a new location, or delete it and retry the consolidation. In the event consolidation completes but the VM is still running on snapshots as indicated in the VM>Edit Settings>Disk pane, shut down the VM, then try the DeleteAll method described in Consolidating snapshots (1007849), involving taking a snapshot, then using DeleteAll in the snapshot manager (VM->Snapshot->Take a Snapshot, followed by VM>Snapshot>Snapshot Manager>Delete All).


Snapshot consolidation must not be interrupted. Interrupting the process can irretrievably corrupt the vDisk(s) being consolidated.

Additional Information

See Also

Update History

05/20/2013 - Added considerations before consolidation process 02/13/2013 - Added Note at end of resolution section.

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