By Crystal / Last Updated March 8, 2023

Can you clone VM from snapshot?


Case: Is there an easy way to create a new VM from an existing snapshot in VMware ESXi?

Someone needs a new VM created from an existing VM, but from one of its snapshots. Is this easily obtainable? If so, can someone provide instructions? Thank you

- Question from

Virtual machine (VM) snapshot preserves the VM’s state and data at a specific point in time. When you perform complex tests in a VM, you can take snapshots before data has been change. Snapshots can roll back the VM to the previous point if task fails, so it can protect your data security.

Some user may ask “How can I use a snapshot to create a virtual machine for testing purposes?”

Generally, you can select to clone VM from VMware snapshots with built-in feature in VMware Workstation. But for VMware ESXi, unfortunately, there is no direct way for VMware ESXi clone VM from snapshots.

If you want to achieve the purpose of cloning a virtual machine from a snapshot on ESXi, you can refer to the two ways mentioned in this article.

VMware ESXi logo

Specific steps of cloning VM from snapshot on VMware ESXi

In VMware ESXi, how to clone a VM from a snapshot? Normally you can use the built-in feature to copy the VM folders including snapshot files to create an identical VM.

Another efficient and convenient way is to use a professional backup software, thus you can perform regular backups and use them to create virtual machines at the given point.

Way 1. Copy VM folders to create a same VM with snapshots (Built-in tool)

This part will introduce the detailed steps of VMware ESXi 6.5 clone VM from snapshot as demonstration. These steps also apply to vSphere 6.7.

1. Access to vSphere Web Client. Navigate to Storage in the left inventory, and click Datastore Browser on the toolbar.

Open Datastore browser

2. To differ from the original VM, click Create directory in Datastore browser, and provide a different Directory name for the new VM. Click Create Directory to confirm.

Create directory

3. Back to the Datastore browser, find the folder of the original VM and click Copy on the toolbar to copy all files in it to the new folder you just created. This operation on VMware vSphere will clone VM with snapshots.

Copy VM files

4. Close Datastore browser, and click Virtual Machines in the left inventory. Click Create/Register VM on toolbar to open the wizard.

Create/Register VM

5. On Select creation type page, select Register an existing virtual machine and click Next.

Register an existing virtual machine

6. On Select VMs for registration page, click Select one or more virtual machines, a datastore or a directory, and select the newly created folder. Click Next.

Select VMs for registration

7. On Ready to complete page, click Finish to close the wizard.

8. Back to Virtual Machines, now you can see the newly copied VM with the same name as the original VM, that’s because the name comes from the .vmx file in folder. You can right-click on the VM name and Rename it.

Rename VM

9. Power on the new VM you just copied, select I copied it and click Answer in the pop-up window.

10. Right-click on the new VM name and select Snapshot > Manage Snapshots.

Manage Snapshots

11. In pop-up Snapshot Manager, select the target snapshot and click Restore snapshot on the toolbar. Then you will get a new VM at the specific point in time when the snapshot was taken.

Restore snapshot

As you can see, unlike VMware Workstation restore snapshot to new VM, VMware ESXi clone VM from snapshot will be more complicated. And there may be errors occurred while taking and cloning a snapshot.

Therefore, next I will introduce a more secure and easier way to clone VMs at specific points of time.

Way 2. Achieve VMware ESXi clone VM from backup (Easier)

To keep a VM at a specific point, it is more convenient to use backup to achieve it than VMware ESXi clone VM from snapshot. Copying VM folders and register a new VM seems to be complicated and low-efficient. So, using a professional software is necessary to achieve automatic backup and fast recovery to another host.

In this part, I will use a software named AOMEI Cyber Backup to perform ESXi backup. It allows you to schedule backup tasks so as to provides regular recovery points which can be used to create a new VM of a certain point, supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.

✓Schedule backup task: You can schedule backups to perform backup task automatically. So you can easily use a backup at specific point to create a VM conveniently.

✓Secure & fast backup and recovery: It protects data security and allows you to back up or restore VM in a flash.

✓Restore to new host: You are able to restore the backup to original or new virtual environment easily.

Batch VM Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Easier steps to backup and restore ESXi VM:

1. Download AOMEI Cyber Bakcup and add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host as the source device.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Click Backup Task >> Create New Task to start configuring backup task.

Enter task name >> Choose VMware ESXi >> Add VMs in the task >> Schedule backup task >> Set retention policies.

backup virtual machine

3. Click Start Backup.

4. Click Restore, select the recovery point from the backup versions, and then Restore new location. It allows you to restore entire virtual machine to create a new identical virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host.

restore virtual machine


Unlike VMware Workstation, there is no built-in feature for VMware ESXi clone VM from snapshot. Therefore, I introduced how to copy all the VM files and restore snapshots to a new VM that helps to clone VM indirectly from snapshot in this article. Whether you choose to copy files manually or choose convenient third-party software, I hope you can find a suitable solution.