By Crystal / Last Updated April 26, 2022

What is checkpoint in Hyper-V

Checkpoints were known as snapshot in Hyper-V before Windows Server 2012 R2. This technology has been improved after that and was renamed to Hyper-V checkpoint.

Checkpoint in Hyper-V records the state of a virtunal machine in a given point in time, so it stores the existing data of a VM before any changes are made. This feature allows you to revert a VM back to the original state securely and quickly when the error occurs.

microsoft hyper v

2 types of checkpoint

Standard Checkpoints: A standard checkpoint is previously known as Hyper-V Snapshot before Windows 10. It takes snapshots and records the state, data and hardware configuration of a virtual machine at a specific point in time.

Standard checkpoints do not keep the application performing consistently and may result in incomplete data transactions for virtual machines which are running applications such as Exchange, SQL, etc. But standard checkpoints are very useful in software-testing and development.

Production Checkpoints: Production checkpoints can be used to create consistent backups of data with the help of the Volume Shadow Copy service (for VMs running on Windows) or file system freezing (for VMs running on Linux). It is a method for backup. No snapshot of VM memory state is taken when creating a production checkpoint.

Could we use checkpoint as backup: Checkpoint≠Backup

The answer is NO. Microsoft's Hyper-V checkpoint is not a replacement of backup.

When you create a backup, you are creating a copy of your virtual machine. It stores complete data of VM. Backups in Hyper-V can be used to restore a cloned VM and do not affect the performance of VM.

However, Hyper-V checkpoint works in a manner that is completely different from backup. When you create a Hyper-V checkpoint, you are really creating is a differencing disk based on the original virtual machine hard disk.

If the original disk is damaged, the child disk is easy to be lost or damaged as well. All changes made after the checkpoint are re-directed to the child disk and leaves the original virtual machine disk read-only. Checkpoints are running out of the memory of disk with a rapid speed which leads to the poor performance of your virtual machines.

Hyper-V checkpoint is just a secure "undo" button. If you want to test something quickly and restore the VM to a stable state, checkpoint in Hyper-V is convenient and fast to execute the process than backup.

How to create Hyper-V checkpoint

When you need to perform some operation which are potentially dangerous to your VM such as software-testing and applying virus applications and want to make sure the original data is secure, you could create a checkpoint in Hyper-V.

Steps to create checkpoint in Hyper-V:

1. Navigate to your Virtual Machines and right-click on a VM

2. Click Checkpoint

create checkpoint

3. The checkpoint will on the Checkpoints section once you create it successfully in the Hyper-V Manager.

Manage checkpoints in Hyper-V

After you create a checkpoint, here comes a question: how do you manage the checkpoint to run our virtual machine well?

How to apply, rename, export and delete a checkpoint is introduced in this part.

How to apply a checkpoint in Hyper-V

If you want to restore Hyper-V VM from checkpoint to a previous point in time, you can apply an existing checkpoint.

1. Select a Virtual Machine.

apply checkpoint

2. In the Checkpoints section, right-click on the checkpoint you want to use and click Apply.

A dialog box will be displayed with the following options:

confirm to apply checkpoint

Create checkpoint and apply: A new checkpoint for the VM will be created before the selected checkpoint is applied. Even if this operation fails, the VM can be protected in this way.

Apply: Only the selected checkpoint is applied and you cannot undo the operation.

3. Choose it according to your need.

How to rename a checkpoint in Hyper-V

Generally, a checkpoint name consists of its VM name and a time stamp. In order to make the checkpoint name simple and obvious, we could rename it with a special feature.

In the Checkpoints section> right-click on the checkpoint you want to use> click Rename> Enter a new name for this checkpoint.

Note: The name must be less than 100 characters and it cannot be empty.

rename checkpoint

How to export a checkpoint in Hyper-V

If you are planning to export checkpoints from your virtual machine, please shut down the VM for the consistency.

1. Navigate to Hyper-V manager, and select the VM.

2. In the Checkpoints section, right-click the checkpoint you want to export and click Export.

3. Click Browse and choose the Location you prefer.

4. Click Export.

export  checkpoint

How to delete a checkpoint in Hyper-V

Please ensure to delete the checkpoints after using it. Otherwise it will run out of your space and affect the performance of VM.

1. Select a VM, and go to the Checkpoints section.

2. Right-click the checkpoint and click Delete Checkpoint. You can also click Delete Checkpoint Subtree which means to delete the main checkpoint and all subsequent checkpoints.

delete checkpoint

3. Confirm that it is the correct checkpoint and click Delete.

Frequently asked questions about Hyper-V checkpoint

Q: Is Hyper-V checkpoint the same as snapshot?

A: One of the reasons that snapshots can be a bit confusing is that different cloud providers use the term "snapshots" in different ways. Microsoft did rename the Hyper-V snapshot to "checkpoints". Even then, the checkpoint feature is still commonly referred to by its old name, snapshots.

Q: What happens when you delete checkpoint?

A: Behind the scenes, checkpoints are stored as .avhdx files in the same location as the .vhdx files for the virtual machine. When you delete a checkpoint, Hyper-V merges the .avhdx and .vhdx files for you. Once completed, the checkpoint's .avhdx file will be deleted from the file system. You should not delete the .avhdx files directly.

Q: Why does Avhdx keep growing?

A: A differencing disk is a virtual disk that is used to store changes made to its parent virtual disk. Meaning, all ongoing changes are now written to the AVHDX file. This causes the file to grow in size and depending on how much change data is being created on the VM it can grow either fast or slow.

Q: How big are Hyper-V checkpoints

A: The maximum size that an AVHDX file can grow follows the same limitations of a differencing disk, which is limited to the size of its parent VHD. So, if we have a VM using an 80GB VHD and we create a checkpoint, the largest that checkpoint can grow is 80GB.

 

Creating backups to better protect Hyper-V VMs

As I described above, Hyper-V checkpoints are not the best way to protect your VMs, and can easily affect the VM performance or even cause data loss. So, you may be wondering what is the best way to protect your Hyper-V VMs?

The answer is VM backups. Not just backup once, but also taking regular backups. A good backup strategy can ensure your VM data security, save the storage costs, and maintain the business continuity.

Therefore, I recommend you a professional backup tool that can quickly backup multiple Hyper-V VMs automatically, AOMEI Cyber Backup.

Multiple VMs Backup: with 3 easy steps you can create a complete automatic backup task of multiple, or even all VMs on the host.
Auto Execution: capable of automating backup tasks, and cleaning old backup files that exceed the specified retention period.
Offsite Restore: capable of restoring backups to new VMs on original or another datastore, host.
Affordable Pricing: reasonable charges only base on the number of bound devices, regardless of how many VMs are on the host.

In the next part I will demonstrate how to do this. You can click the following button to start a free trial.

Download Free TrialHyper-V host 2012 and later
Secure Download

3 quick steps to schedule automatic backup tasks of multiple Hyper-V VMs

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > Hyper-V > + Add Hyper-V to add a host. And then click > Bind Device.

add Hyper-V host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and then set Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target, Schedule, and Cleanup.

Create a Hyper-V backup task

  • Device: With AOMEI Cyber Backup, you can backup multiple, or even all VMs on the host at once.
  • Target: Selecte to back up to a local path, or to a network path. Used paths will be saved in Favorite Storage for handy selection.
  • Schedule: Choose to perform full or incremental backup, and automate execution daily, weekly or monthly according to the frequency you specified.

Backup schedule

  • Backup Cleanup: Specify a retention period, and the old backups that exceed the period will be automatically deleted.

Backup Cleanup

3. Start Backup: Click Start Backup and you can select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately, for progress checking, schedule changing and restoring.

Start backup Hyper-V VMs

When restoring, you can select to restore the backups to new VMs on original or another host.

Restore to new location

Summary

The Microsoft ecosystem is one that most people are very familiar with. Checkpoint in Microsoft Hyper-V is convenient and useful to allow you to roll a VM back to the original state quickly, but it is not the alternative of backup as we said before. To better protect your Hyper-V VM data, regular backups are still essential.

In this article I introduced a professional backup tool AOMEI Cyber Backup, that can automatically backup multiple Hyper-V VMs and clean old backups to save storage space.

Except for that, AOMEI Cyber Backup also allows one top administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges, for example, a Backup Operator that can only backup VMs and cannot perform restores, to avoid overwriting the existing VMs. This can further protect your VMs from mis-operations.