ESXi 5 “Critical” snapshot design change

Just want to puke my guts and inform as many as possible about the new snapshot design change that is introduced in ESXi 5. I learn the hard way where my Exchange Server with 1500 mailboxes was down for almost three hours.

So in ESX version 3.x and 4.x all snapshot was by default saved in the virtual machine home directory, by default, the home directory is the same directory as the virtual machine’s .vmx configuration file.

In ESXi 5.xx the new behavior is that snapshots delta files are now are now stored in the same home folder as the base disk, lets for example imagine that we have a VM with five disk witch each resides on each LUN, the new designed change means that the snapshot delta files are now by default created on every LUN and you need to have enough free space on all LUNs assigned to the VM for the snapshot delta files.

Can this be changed, yes but be aware that next time you do Storage vMotion operation, all snapshot deltas will get migrated to the same folder as the VM’s base disk on the destination (So you better make sure you have enough space)

Changing the snapshot file location to the virtual machine working directory in ESXi 5.0?

To modify the snapshot storage location:

  1. Powered off Virtual Machine
  2. Right-click the virtual machine and click Edit Settings.
  3. Click the Options tab.
  4. In the Advanced Options, click General.
  5. Click Configuration Parameters.
  6. Click Add Row.
  7. In the Name field, type snapshot.redoNotWithParent.
  8. In the Value field, type true.


I recommend to read the article released by VMware about the snapshot designed change.

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4 Responses to ESXi 5 “Critical” snapshot design change

  1. Farooq says:

    I will check but thanks for the info

  2. We have a virtual machine in a vSphere 5 environment on an ESXi host. This VM houses Backup Exec and it’s main data store is on a SAN. The client’s tape drive failed a while back. We have been performing backups on the local disk of the ESXi host. I originally created a 2 TB virtual hard disk and Backup Exec is using that for backups. We recently received warnings that local disk usage was down to 5 MB! This happened towards the end of a full backup. I managed to delete a 3 GB ISO on the local disk and got the VM to boot my un-mounting the 2 TB virtual hard disk from the VM. I had created a snapshot earlier in the week before doing Symantec upgrades on that server. On the local disk there are 3 vmdk files – 2 of them have a -00000x.vmdk naming scheme. On the SAN is where the main VM files are including the snapshot files. I decided to delete the snapshots to try and get back space but it is crawling at around 43% – 1% ever 6 – 7 hours! Is there anyway I could cancel this? Did the most recent full backup write to a new VMDK file since I didn’t delete the snapshot files prior to the full backup?

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