Best practices for using VMware snapshots in the vSphere environment
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Best practices for using VMware snapshots in the vSphere environment


Article ID: 318825


Updated On:


VMware vSphere ESXi


This article provides best practices for using VMware snapshots feature.


VMware ESXi 4.1.x Embedded
VMware vSphere ESXi 8.0.x
VMware ESXi 4.0.x Installable
VMware ESXi 4.0.x Embedded
VMware ESX 4.1.x
VMware ESXi 4.1.x Installable
VMware vSphere ESXi 5.0
VMware ESX 4.0.x
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7
VMware vSphere ESXi 5.1
VMware vSphere ESXi 5.5
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.0
VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0.0


Follow these best practices when using VMware snapshots in the vSphere environment:

  • Do not use VMware 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.

  • You cannot increase the size of the Virtual Machine disk while the VM is running on snapshot during powered ON/OFF status. Increment of VMDK disks running on snapshot should never be attempted even using CLI. 

  • 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.

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