By Alison / Last Updated April 24, 2022

Can you restore VMware snapshot to new VM

 

Case:

I am having two virtual machines with same OS and software list. (In fact they were cloned). Now I have installed an application in a VM and taken a snapshot. Is it possible to copy this snapshot and associate with the another VM? (So that i don't need to spend the effort again. I know i can clone but if i can just paste and associate the snapshot).

- Question from serverfault.com

A VM snapshot preserves the state and data of a VM at a specific point in time, allowing you to restore the VM to them once there are problems.

Based on this function, you may wonder if you can restore VMware snapshots to new VM, to perform further tests on the VM’s specific state. Unfortunately, it cannot be done by simply pasting and associating to another VM.

This is because a VMware snapshot is completely dependent on the parent disk, and manually manipulate any single snapshot file may cause serious data loss.

However, there are still some workarounds that can reach the same goal without data loss. In this article I will introduce how to restore snapshot to new VM on VMware Workstation and ESXi.

VMware Logo

How to restore VMware Workstation snapshot to new VM

Since VMware snapshots are based on the original VM, you cannot directly create new VMs from manually copied snapshot files. Luckily, there is one built-in feature on VMware Workstation allowing you to clone new VM from existing snapshots.

Here are the detailed steps:

1. Launch VMware Workstation, and power off the original VM.

2. Select the original VM. Click the VM button on the toolbar, and select Manager > Clone… to open the Clone Virtual Machine Wizard. Click Next.

Clone VM

3. Select Clone Source as An existing snapshot (powered off only), and click Next.

Note: You can only clone from a snapshot taken while the original VM was powered off.

Select clone source

4. Select to Create a linked clone, or Create a full clone. If you want to clone a standalone new VM, you should select to Create a full clone. Click Next to continue.

Note:
Linked clone: A linked clone is a reference to the original VM and requires less disk space to store. However, it cannot run without access to the original VM.
Full clone: A full clone is a complete copy of the original VM at its current state. This VM is fully independent, but requires more disk space to store.

Select clone type

5. Provide a Name, and click Browse… to select a destination location for the new VM. They should be different from the original VM.

Provide a name and location for new VM

6. Click Finish to start clone. The progress will show on the wizard.

After this, you will get a new VM that is in the state when you took the snapshot.

How to restore VMware ESXi snapshot to new VM

Unlike VMware Workstation, there’s no such a cloning from snapshots option on ESXi, and you can only reach the VM files in Datastore browser. Therefore, you cannot directly separate the snapshots from the original VM.

To restore VMware ESXi snapshot to new VM, the most feasible way is to copy all the VM files (including snapshots files) to register a new same VM, and restore snapshot on any of them. If you need to restore multiple snapshots to new VMs, you can repeat this process. Laborious, though, but effective.

Here are the detailed steps:

1. Access to vSphere Web Client, click Storage in the left inventory, and click Datastore browser button on the right interface.

Open Datastore browser

2. Click Create directory button in the pop-up browser, and provide a different Directory name for the new VM. Click Create Directory to create an empty folder for the new VM.

Create directory

3. Back to the Datastore browser, select files in the folder of the original VM and click Copy on the toolbar, to copy all files to the new folder you just created.

Copy file in Datastore browser

4. Close Datastore browser, and click Register a VM on toolbar to open the wizard.

5. Select the .vmx file in the new folder, and click Register.

Register a VM

6. Click Virtual Machines in the left inventory, now you can see the newly cloned VM with the same name as the old one, that’s because the name comes from the .vmx file in the folder. You can right-click on the VM name and Rename it.

Rename VM

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

8. Right-click the new VM name and select Snapshots > Manage snapshot to open the Snapshot Manager.

Manage snapshots

9. Select the snapshot you want to restore, and click Restore snapshot on the toolbar.

Restore snapshot

Now you get a new VMware ESXi VM in the state when the snapshot was taken.

A safer option: backup and restore VMware VMs to new VMs

If you want to capture a VM at some point in time and be able to restore it to an independent new VM, it is much better to take a VM backup than a snapshot.

A VM backup is an independent copy of the VM that can be safely stored offsite, cloud, or other locations. By restoring from a VM backup you will get an instantly usable VM.

Actually, this is the most commonly used measure to protect VM data. Except for backing up once, scheduling a regular backup strategy keeps backups up-to-date and ensure multiple restore points. You can restore any one of them to new VMs for further operations.

Next I will introduce you AOMEI Cyber Backup, a dedicated backup tool that can automatically backup multiple VMware ESXi VMs at a time, and clearly list all restore points for convenient restore. When restoring, you can choose to restore the backup to new VMs on same or another datastore, host.

In addition, to save storage space, you can specify a retention period to auto clean up old backup files.

Here I will demonstrate how to quickly backup multiple VMware ESXi VMs and restore to new VMs on another host using AOMEI Cyber Backup. You can click the following button to start a free trial:

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi 6.0 & later versions
Secure Download

3 quick steps to backup and restore VMware VMs

1. Bind devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware ESXi > + Add VMware ESXi to add a host. And then click > Bind Device.

Note: Except for VMware ESXi, AOMEI Cyber Backup also support Hyper-V. Supported versions: VMware ESXi 6.0 and all later versions, Windows Server 2012 and all later versions.

Add VMware ESXi host

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

Create a VMware ESXi backup task

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

Schedule type

  • Cleanup: specify a retention period, and the old backup files that exceed the period will be automatically deleted.

Backup Cleanup

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

Start backup

3. Restore to new host: Navigate to Backup Management > History Versions, specify a VM and select a restore point from the list, click > Restore and select Restore to new location.

Note: You can also set the RAM and Vital Processor of the new VM.

Restore to new location

Summary

VMware snapshots are based on the original VM, therefore, you cannot directly paste and associate them with other VMs. But if you really need to restore VMware snapshot to new VM, there are other indirect ways to reach the goal.

In this article I introduced how to restore VMware Workstation snapshot to new VM by cloning from the existing snapshot, and to restore VMware ESXi snapshot to new VM by manually copying all the files of the original VM to register a new VM, and restore snapshot on one of them.

If you want a safer way to restore a specific state of the VM to a new VM, backing up VM is much safer than taking snapshots. Therefore I recommend you AOMEI Cyber Backup that can quickly backup multiple VMs and restore to new VMs on same or another host.

In addition, to avoid mis-overwriting the existing VMs, it allows one administrator to create multiple sub-accounts with limited privileges, for example, a backuper that can only create backup tasks, but cannot restore.