Knowledge Base

The VMware Knowledge Base provides support solutions, error messages and troubleshooting guides
Search the VMware Knowledge Base (KB)   View by Article ID

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


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 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.

  • VMware recommends only a maximum of 32 snapshots in a chain. However, for a better performance, use only 2 to 3 snapshots.
  • Do not use a single snapshot for more than 24-72 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 environements

      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, virtual-machine-snapshots


fault/crash, snapshot-best-practices, virtual-machine-snapshots

See Also

Update History

03/01/2012 - Added more information under the Best Practices topic. 10/24/2012 - Updated product ESXi 5.1.x 03/12/2015 - Added ESXi 5.5 and ESXi 6.0 to Products.

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.


  • 702 Ratings

Did this article help you?
This article resolved my issue.
This article did not resolve my issue.
This article helped but additional information was required to resolve my issue.

What can we do to improve this information? (4000 or fewer characters)

Please enter the Captcha code before clicking Submit.
  • 702 Ratings