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Best practices for using snapshots in the vSphere environment (1025279)

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This article provides best practice information on using virtual machine snapshots.


Follow these best practices when using snapshots in the vSphere environment:
  • Do not use snapshots as backups.

    The snapshot file is only a change log of the original virtual disk, it creates a place holder disk, virtual_machine-00000x-delta.vmdk, to store data changes since the time the snapshot was created. If the base disks are deleted, the snapshot files are not sufficient to restore a virtual machine.

  • Maximum of 32 snapshots are supported in a chain. However, for a better performance use only 2 to 3 snapshots. 

  • Do not use a single snapshot for more than 72 hours.

    The snapshot file continues to grow in size when it is retained for a longer period. This can cause the snapshot storage location to run out of space and impact the system performance.

  • When using a third-party backup software, ensure that snapshots are deleted after a successful backup.

    Note: Snapshots taken by third party software (through API) may not appear in the Snapshot Manager. Routinely check for snapshots through the command-line.

  • Ensure that there are no snapshots before:
    • Performing Storage vMotion in vSphere 4.x and earlier environments.

      Note: vSphere 5.0 and later support Storage vMotion with snapshots on a virtual machine.

    • Increasing the virtual machine disk size or virtual RDM.

      Increasing the disk size when snapshots are still available can corrupt snapshots and result in data loss.


fault/crash, snapshot-best-practices, cannot consolidate disks

See Also

Update History

10/24/2012 - Updated product ESXi 5.1.x 03/12/2015 - Added ESXi 5.5 and ESXi 6.0 to Products.

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  • 758 Ratings