Identifying virtual machine snapshots in vSphere

Virtual machine snapshots can chew through precious disk resources, so you should keep an eye on how many are in use. Here are three easy ways to find active VM snapshots.

Virtual machine snapshots are key areas of VMware vSphere that cannot go off your radar because they can chew through precious disk resources. There are a number of ways to see if snapshots are in use; one good starting point is the virtual machine. Here are three simple ways to find virtual machine snapshots.

Revert To Snapshot To find out if a single virtual machine has an active snapshot, you can see if the Revert To Snapshot button is active, and if there is a snapshot file on the datastore. Figure A shows a virtual machine with an active snapshot, and both of these conditions are present. Figure A

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The Revert To Snapshot approach is good for a quick look into a single object, but it doesn't scale well.

Storage Views If you want to view the snapshots from the datacenter level within vSphere, the Storage Views feature is a good way to see which virtual machines have an active snapshot. To navigate to the Storage Views feature within the vSphere Client for a datacenter, click the datacenter, click Storage Views, select the Reports button (default), and sort by the Snapshot space column. Figure B shows all active virtual machines with an active snapshot in the selected datacenter. Figure B

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This Storage Views function can be repeated at the folder, cluster, host, and resource pool levels.


Another way to query to see if snapshots are in use for virtual machines is via PowerCLI, vSphere's PowerShell implementation. This can be done via a one-liner for all virtual machines in the vSphere server. This following PowerCLI command will return a useful report of the virtual machines with a snapshot and when it was created:

Get-VM | Get-Snapshot | Select Created, VM
Figure C shows this executed in PowerCLI. Figure C

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Share your approach for tracking snapshots

There also are plenty of tools to run and report on snapshots, but these mechanisms are what I use most frequently in my virtualization practice. How do you track snapshots? Let me know in the discussion.