Taking and Managing Snapshots in VMware ESXi

In a VMware virtualization environment, snapshots offer a powerful feature that allows you to capture the current state of a virtual machine (VM) at a specific point in time. Taking and managing snapshots can be essential for various purposes, such as creating backups, testing software updates, and reverting VMs to previous states if needed.

In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of taking and managing snapshots in VMware ESXi. Understanding how to use snapshots correctly ensures efficient VM management and helps avoid potential issues related to excessive snapshot usage.

What are Snapshots, and why are they useful?

Snapshots are point-in-time copies of a VM’s state, including its memory, disk, and virtual hardware configuration. They offer the following benefits:

  1. Backup and Recovery: Snapshots provide a quick and efficient way to create VM backups, which can be used for disaster recovery or testing purposes.
  2. Software Testing: Before applying software updates or changes, you can take a snapshot to create a safe point to revert to if the updates cause issues.
  3. Troubleshooting: Snapshots allow you to preserve the VM’s state before making significant changes, helping you troubleshoot problems by reverting to the previous state if necessary.
  4. Multiple Configurations: Snapshots enable you to create various configurations of a VM and switch between them without reinstallation.

Step 1: Take a Snapshot

To take a snapshot of a virtual machine, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the vSphere Client or vCenter Server.
  2. Select the VM you want to take a snapshot of from the “Virtual Machines” view.
  3. Right-click on the VM and select “Snapshot” > “Take Snapshot.”
  4. Enter a descriptive name and optional description for the snapshot.
  5. Choose whether to capture the VM’s memory state (if needed for crash-consistent backups).
  6. Click “OK” to create the snapshot.

Step 2: Manage Snapshots

Properly managing snapshots is essential to prevent issues with storage and VM performance. Follow these tips:

  1. Monitor Snapshot Size: Regularly check the size of snapshots to avoid running out of storage space. Large snapshots can impact VM performance and increase backup times.
  2. Snapshot Consolidation: If a VM has multiple snapshots and you have already reverted to a previous snapshot, consider consolidating or deleting unnecessary snapshots to improve VM performance.
  3. Snapshot Retention: Define a snapshot retention policy to control how long snapshots are kept. Older snapshots may become unnecessary and consume storage space.
  4. Use Snapshots Temporarily: Avoid keeping snapshots for extended periods. Snapshots are not a substitute for proper backups, and their performance impact increases with time.
  5. Delete Unused Snapshots: If you no longer need a snapshot, delete it promptly to free up storage space.

Step 3: Revert or Delete Snapshots

If you need to revert a VM to a previous state or remove unwanted snapshots, follow these steps:

  1. Select the VM in the vSphere Client.
  2. Click “Snapshot” > “Snapshot Manager.”
  3. In the Snapshot Manager, you can see a list of existing snapshots. To revert to a snapshot, select it and click “Go to” or “Revert to.” To delete a snapshot, select it and click “Delete.”
  4. Confirm your action when prompted. Note that reverting to a snapshot will overwrite the VM’s current state, and deleting a snapshot is irreversible.


Using snapshots in VMware ESXi can significantly enhance VM management and offer valuable features for backup, recovery, and testing purposes. However, proper snapshot management is crucial to avoid potential storage and performance issues. By following this comprehensive guide, you can confidently take and manage snapshots, ensuring smooth and efficient operations in your VMware virtualized environment.

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