By Alison / Last Updated April 24, 2022

Case: I want to restore VMware snapshot to different server

Hi, all

I have a VMware ESXi platform that contains 7 VMs, and I have created snapshots of virtual machines and want to migrate VMs to another server. My question is how to restore VMware snapshot to different server.

VMware snapshot preserves the state of a virtual machine (VM) at a specific point in time, allowing you to repeatedly roll back the VM and perform further testing of a specific state.

But the operations are within the original VM and server. If 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 wander if you can restore the VMware snapshot to different server?

Can you restore VMware snapshot to different server

The answer is NO. There is no such a method to restore snapshots to different server directly. Actually, the main purpose of restoring snapshots to anther server aims to create a new VM for data migration.

In older to achieve this, there are still some methods. For VMware Workstation, you can find a “clone from snapshot” option. However, unfortunately, on VMware ESXi, there is no such a built-in option. You can only copy VM files manually or use professional backup and recovery tool.

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How to restore VMware ESXi snapshot to another host

Using a professional third-party tool such as AOMEI Cyber Backup is extremely convenient which allows you to schedule backup task and offers regular backups for fast recovery.

Easier to backup and restore VMs to another virtual environment:

1. Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup and click Add New Task to create a new backup task.

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2. Enter task name, then select virtual machines and target for backup.

select backup VMs

3. Schedule backup: You can select backup ways as full/incremental/differential backup and set up time period as daily, weekly, monthly (by week), monthly (by date).

schedule backup

You can select incremental backup for VMs which saves storage at maximum. It will perform backup task automatically once you schedule it successfully.

4. Set up Backup Cleanup policy that helps to delete old backups automatically.

backup cleanup

5. Click Start Backup.

6. After creating backup task, restore VM from any point by clicking Restore to new location to create a new VM in another server. Then specify the number of RAM and Virtual Processor.

restore VMware ESXi

Using this software helps to provide regular backups to restore VM to different server, which is more secure than snapshots.

How to copy VMware ESXi snapshot to another host

In this section I will introduce the detailed steps of how to move VMware ESXi snapshot to another host without vCenter.

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.

Unregister VM

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.

Register a VM

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.

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.

Datastore browser

4. Find the folder of the target VM in datastore browser, select the files in it and click Download.

Download VM files

5. In the pop-up File Explorer, select a local or network share path to store the VM files, click Save.

VM files stored in local

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.

Create directory

8. Select the new VM folder, and click Upload button to upload all the files you download to the folder, including the snapshots. And then close Datastore browser.

Upload VM files

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.

How to copy VMware Workstation snapshot to different environment

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.

Workstation VM folder path

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.

Open VM file

5. Go to the path where you stored the copied VM folder, select the .vmx file in it and click Open.

Open VMX file

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.

Go to snapshot

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 a substitute for each other. 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.

Summary

This article introduces how to restore snapshots to another server in VMware ESXi and Workstation. When using snapshots, you should keep in mind that snapshots cannot be used for backup method, especially for enterprise backup.

For professional backup requirements, you need to choose professional backup software to ensure the safety of data.