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Consolidating snapshots in vSphere 5.x/6.0 (2003638)


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


  • For information on consolidating snapshots in earlier releases of ESXi/ESX, see Consolidating snapshots (1007849).
  • The video above is 5.x specific but it is also applicable to vSphere 6.0.

When you initiate a Delete or DeleteAll operation on snapshots, the snapshot is immediately deleted from Snapshot Manager, 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 on the Datastore, consuming storage capacity.

In vSphere 5.x/6.0, you are 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/6.0 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.

      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 OK. No snapshots exist , no consolidation is required, no extra disk space is consumed.

Consolidating snapshots for a virtual machine

Note: Before you proceed, 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. 
  • 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. To check the Consolidation progress, see Commands to monitor snapshot deletion in VMware ESX/ESXi (1007566).

    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 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:


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. 03/12/2015 - Added ESXi 5.5/6.0 and vCenter Server 5.5/6.0 to Products.

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