Case: Is it possible to restore VMware snapshot to different server?
I have a VMware ESXi host that contains 7 VMs and want to migrate them to another server. Is it possible to restore snapshot from one server to another server?
- Question from communities.vmware.com
When you need to move your production environment to another host, or simply need to perform further tests on specific states from different environments, you may want to restore VMware snapshot to different server, just as stated in the case.
VMware snapshots are indeed convenient when you need to roll back a VM after it failed. But the operations are only within the original VM and server, this is because snapshots are based on parent disks, manually manipulate any single snapshot file may cause serious data loss. As a conclusion, there is no direct way to restore VMware snapshot to different server. You can try some workarounds to achieve the same goal, though.
I will elaborate on these methods in the following article.
Secure workarounds to restore snapshot to different server
If you have searched for how to copy VMware virtual machine to another host, you may know that using vMotion and some third-party tools you can migrate VMware VMs with snapshots. However, they all need additional costs.
Among the free features, the only available way that can move a VM to another host preserving the snapshots is manual copying. Furthermore, you still need to copy the entire VM, or the orphaned snapshot will be unusable.
In this article, I will introduce how to copy VMware snapshot to another host with the virtual machine on both VMware ESXi and Workstation. You can click the anchor text to jump to the part you need.
In this section, I will introduce the detailed steps of how to move VMware ESXi snapshot to another host without vCenter.
If you can access to one same datastore via different VMware ESXi hosts, you can manage the VM snapshots on another ESXi host simply by unregistering the VM and registering it to the ESXi host.
However, if these ESXi hosts do not share datastore, then you will need to migrate the VM with snapshots to another datastore on the host.
Case 1. Move VMware snapshot to another host on a shared datastore
1. Access to vSphere Web Client, navigate to Virtual Machines in the left inventory, and power off the target VM.
2. Right-click on the target VM name and select Unregister.
3. Access to another host on vSphere Web Client, navigate to Storage and click Register a VM to open Datastore browser.
4. Find the folder of the VM you want to move, select the .vmx file in it and click Register.
5. Now navigate to Virtual Machines and you can see the VM is registered to the inventory. Right-click on the VM name and select Snapshots > Manage snapshots to check the snapshots.
Case 2. Copy VMware snapshot to another host that does not share datastore
1. Restore VMware snapshot to another host that does not share datastore
2. Access to vSphere Web Client, and power off the target VM.
3. Navigate to Storage in the left inventory, and click Datastore browser.
4. Find the folder of the target VM in datastore browser, select the files in it and click Download.
5. In the pop-up File Explorer, select a local or network share path to store the VM files, click Save.
6. Access to another host on vSphere Web Client, navigate to Storage and click Datastore browser.
7. Select the datastore where you want to move the VM to, and click Create directory to create a new folder for the VM.
8. Select the new VM folder, and click the Upload button to upload all the files you download to the folder, including the snapshots. And then close Datastore browser.
9. Click Register a VM button, and select the new copied .vmx file in the VM folder to register the VM to the inventory.
10. Now you can find the VM in Virtual Machines, right-click on the VM name and select Snapshots > Manage snapshots to check the copied snapshots.
Unlike VMware ESXi, the files of VMware Workstation VM are stored local, and you can easily access to them using Windows File Explorer. You can copy the VM folder with its snapshots to another local path or network storage, simply register the VM, and then you can manage the snapshots on another Workstation server.
Here are the detailed steps.
1. Launch VMware Workstation and power off the target VM.
2. Move your cursor over the target VM name, there will be a box showing the path to the VM folder.
3. Go to that path, and copy the whole VM folder to the different environment you want to move to.
4. Launch VMware Workstation from the new environment. Click File > Open… to open the File Explorer.
5. Go to the path where you stored the copied VM folder, select the .vmx file in it and click Open.
Then the VM will be registered in the new environment.
6. Right-click on the VM name in the left inventory, and select Snapshot > Snapshot Manager.
7. Select the snapshot you want to restore and click Go To, click Yes to confirm the restore.
Important: Do not use VMware snapshot as backup
As you can see, the current available features do not support restoring VMware snapshots to different server. It is not even recommended to manually manipulate single snapshot file, as this can result in seriously data loss.
Therefore, VM snapshot and backup cannot be lumped together. Here I briefly list 2 points to support this view.
- Data security: The VMware snapshots are completely dependent on the parent disk. If the parent disk is deleted, the snapshot itself is not sufficient to restore the original VM. Besides, snapshots cannot be associate to other VMs. But VM backups are independent of the original VM, and can be safely stored offsite, to the cloud, or other location.
- Performance affecting: VM snapshots are not suitable for long-term preserve, for the incremental disk file grows and can take a lot of space, affecting the VM performance. VM backups can be safely stored for long time without affecting VM performance.
Therefore, if you want to create multiple VM copies to perform further testing, rather than VMware snapshots, backups may help you better, and safer without irrevocable data loss.
Since snapshots may lead to serious consequences, backup and restore entire VM can be more secure than snapshots and is suitable for a variety of purposes. For example, backup VMware VM to external hard drive for archiving. Snapshot files cannot be used as archives because they are not independent.
In addition, the process of backing up and restoring VMs to another host can be simple with third-party tools. Here I recommend you AOMEI Cyber Backup. It is a professional backup software that allowing you to batch backup and restore large amount of VMs managed by vCenter Server or on a standalone ESXi host to another host with simple steps. In addition, it supports both paid and free versions of ESXi.
If you want an easy, effective, and economical VM backup tool, AOMEI Cyber Backup definitely worth a try. You can start with a 30-day free trial!
*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.
✦ Bind Devices: Access AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, and provide relevant credentials for authorization, then you can centrally control all VMs on the host remotely. Once bound the host you do not need to repeat this step later.
✦ Create Backup Task: Specify Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target, Schedule and Cleanup, you can quickly create a complete image-level backup task that covers multiple VMs.
✦ Restore to Another Host: By selecting Restore to new location, you can restore the backup to a new VM on original or another datastore, host, and reset the RAM and Virtual Processor according to your needs.
Currently there is no direct way to restore VMware snapshot to different server. Therefore in this article, I introduced several workarounds to copy VMware snapshot to another host. These methods are efficient for you to restore snapshot to another VM.
When using virtual machines, please note that VM snapshot and backup are quite different, and over-reliance on snapshot may cause serious performance degradation and even data loss. Therefore, it is still recommended to choose from suitable VMware backup solutions. AOMEI Cyber Backup definitely worth a try.