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How to consolidate snapshots in vSphere 5.x/6.0 (2003638)

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This article describes how to consolidate snapshots in vSphere 5.x/6.0 when virtual machine disk consolidation is required.


When you initiate a Delete or DeleteAll operation on snapshots, the snapshot is immediately deleted from Snapshot Manager and then the backing virtual machine disk .vmdk files are consolidated on-disk. If the consolidation fails, some virtual disk files may remain on disk and/or be actively used in the datastore, consuming storage capacity.

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.

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

    • A No status indicates that the files are correct. In this case, no snapshots exist, no consolidation is required, and no extra disk space is consumed.

Consolidating snapshots for a virtual machine

  • The remove snapshot process can take a long time to complete if the snapshots are large. 
  • Do not interrupt Snapshot consolidation. Interrupting the process can irretrievably corrupt the vDisk(s) being consolidated.
  • Virtual machine performance may be degraded during the snapshot consolidation process.

To consolidate snapshots:
  1. Right-click the virtual machine and click Snapshot > Consolidate.
  2. Check the Needs Consolidation column to verify that the task succeeded. 

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

Additional Information

  • When a virtual machine snapshot consolidation fails in vSphere 5.x/6.0, a Configuration Issue warning is reported in the Summary tab.
  • The Administrators can initiate a consolidate operation from the vSphere Client rather than the ESXi command line.  
You may want to consolidate snapshots when: 
  • The snapshot commit fails due to locked files. 
  • There is a temporary loss of communication between the vCenter Server and the ESXi/ESX host during snapshot commit. The most common cause of this is an environmental issue which can have a knock on effect on the ESXi/ESX host management agent hostd


virtual machine disk consolidation is needed, vms showing disk consolidation needed, VM snapshot consolidation failed, vmware disk consolidation error

See Also

Update History

05/20/2013 - Added considerations before consolidation process 02/13/2013 - Added Note at end of resolution section. 03/12/2015 - Added ESXi 5.5/6.0 and vCenter Server 5.5/6.0 to Products.

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