Windows Server

Defining Hyper-V snapshots and SCVMM checkpoints

Hyper-V has two terms for a snapshot, which is a fundamental virtualization feature. Virtualization expert Rick Vanover explains the two terms.

I've been doing a lot of work with Microsoft's Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). Hyper-V Manager is the free management tool for Hyper-V virtual machines and, for many situations, it is good enough to administer a very small virtual infrastructure. SCVMM is a broader management solution, and it works with Hyper-V clusters.

Across all virtualization platforms, there is one fundamental technology that is consistent: the virtual machine snapshot; however, I noticed that Hyper-V Manager and SCVMM have a different way of referring to a virtual machine snapshot. Within Hyper-V Manager, the virtual machine snapshot is called a snapshot. A virtual machine snapshot in SCVMM is called a checkpoint.

A TechNet article defines SCVMM checkpoint as, "Each checkpoint saves the state of each virtual hard disk that is attached to a virtual machine and all of the hard disk's contents, including application data files." Another TechNet article defines Hyper-V snapshots as, "Virtual machine snapshots capture the state, data, and hardware configuration of a running virtual machine." The difference is likely academic and revolves around possible application awareness that may be made available through SCVMM.

In Hyper-V Manager, a snapshot is available via a right click on a virtual machine. You can also manage snapshots in Hyper-V via PowerShell. Figure A shows a snapshot being taken within Hyper V Manager. Figure A

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In SCVMM, the checkpoint is applied just as easily via a right click on the virtual machine (Figure B). Figure B

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The snapshots created on the virtual machine named HV4 within Hyper-V Manager are visible in SCVMM as checkpoints (Figure C). Figure C

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When a checkpoint is created in SCVMM, it shows up as a snapshot in Hyper-V Manager. The one distinction is that the SCVMM interface allows a comment to be added for the checkpoint (but they are not displayed by default in Hyper-V Manager).

If you have had any issues with a checkpoint interacting with a Hyper-V snapshot, share your experiences in the discussion.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.