Hyperv snapshot

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Using checkpoints to revert virtual machines to a previous state

One of the great benefits to virtualization is the ability to easily save the state of a virtual machine. In Hyper-V this is done through the use of virtual machine checkpoints. You may want to create a virtual machine checkpoint before making software configuration changes, applying a software update, or installing new software. If a system change were to cause an issue, the virtual machine can be reverted to the state at which it was when then checkpoint was taken.

Windows 10 Hyper-V includes two types of checkpoints:

  • Standard Checkpoints: takes a snapshot of the virtual machine and virtual machine memory state at the time the checkpoint is initiated. A snapshot is not a full backup and can cause data consistency issues with systems that replicate data between different nodes such as Active Directory. Hyper-V only offered standard checkpoints (formerly called snapshots) prior to Windows 10.

  • Production Checkpoints: uses Volume Shadow Copy Service or File System Freeze on a Linux virtual machine to create a data-consistent backup of the virtual machine. No snapshot of the virtual machine memory state is taken.

Production checkpoints are selected by default however this can be changed using either Hyper-V manager or PowerShell.

Note: The Hyper-V PowerShell module has several aliases so that checkpoint and snapshot can be used interchangeably.
This document uses checkpoint, however be aware that you may see similar commands using the term snapshot.

Changing the Checkpoint Type

Using Hyper-V Manager

  1. Open Hyper-V Manager.
  2. Right click on a virtual machine and select settings.
  3. Under Management select Checkpoints.
  4. Select the desired checkpoint type.

Using PowerShell

The following commands can be run to change the checkpoint with PowerShell.

Set to Standard Checkpoint:

Set to Production Checkpoint, if the production checkpoint fails a standard checkpoint is being created:

Set to Production Checkpoint, if the production checkpoint fails a standard checkpoint is not being created.

Creating checkpoints

Creates a checkpoint of the type configured for the virtual machine. See the Configuring Checkpoint Type section earlier in this document for instructions on how to change this type.

Using Hyper-V Manager

To create a checkpoint:

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, select the virtual machine.
  2. Right-click the name of the virtual machine, and then click Checkpoint.
  3. When the process is complete, the checkpoint will appear under Checkpoints in the Hyper-V Manager.

Using PowerShell

Create a checkpoint using the CheckPoint-VM command.

When the checkpoint process has completed, view a list of checkpoints for a virtual machine use the Get-VMCheckpoint command.

Applying checkpoints

If you want to revert your virtual machine to a previous point-in-time, you can apply an existing checkpoint.

Using Hyper-V Manager

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, under Virtual Machines, select the virtual machine.
  2. In the Checkpoints section, right-click the checkpoint that you want to use and click Apply.
  3. A dialog box appears with the following options:
  • Create Checkpoint and Apply: Creates a new checkpoint of the virtual machine before it applies the earlier checkpoint.
  • Apply: Applies only the checkpoint that you have chosen. You cannot undo this action.
  • Cancel: Closes the dialog box without doing anything.

Select either Apply option to create apply the checkpoint.

Using PowerShell

  1. To see a list of checkpoints for a virtual machine use the Get-VMCheckpoint command.

  2. To apply the checkpoint use the Restore-VMCheckpoint command.

Renaming checkpoints

Many checkpoints are created at a specific point. Giving them an identifiable name makes it easier to remember details about the system state when the checkpoint was created.

By default, the name of a checkpoint is the name of the virtual machine combined with the date and time the checkpoint was taken. This is the standard format:

Names are limited to 100 characters, and the name cannot be blank.

Using Hyper-V Manager

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, select the virtual machine.
  2. Right-click the checkpoint, and then select Rename.
  3. Enter in the new name for the checkpoint. It must be less than 100 characters, and the field cannot be empty.
  4. Click ENTER when you are done.

Using PowerShell

Deleting checkpoints

Deleting checkpoints can help create space on your Hyper-V host.

Behind the scenes, checkpoints are stored as .avhdx files in the same location as the .vhdx files for the virtual machine. When you delete a checkpoint, Hyper-V merges the .avhdx and .vhdx files for you. Once completed, the checkpoint's .avhdx file will be deleted from the file system.

You should not delete the .avhdx files directly.

Using Hyper-V Manager

To cleanly delete a checkpoint:

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, select the virtual machine.
  2. In the Checkpoints section, right-click the checkpoint that you want to delete and click Delete. You can also delete a checkpoint and all subsequent checkpoints. To do so, right-click the earliest checkpoint that you want to delete, and then click Delete Checkpoint Subtree.
  3. You might be asked to verify that you want to delete the checkpoint. Confirm that it is the correct checkpoint, and then click Delete.

Using PowerShell

Exporting checkpoints

Export bundles the checkpoint as a virtual machine so the checkpoint can be moved to a new location. Once imported, the checkpoint is restored as a virtual machine. Exported checkpoints can be used for backup.

Using PowerShell

Enable or disable checkpoints

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, right-click the name of the virtual machine, and click Settings.
  2. In the Management section, select Checkpoints.
  3. To allow checkpoints to be taken off this virtual machine, make sure Enable Checkpoints is selected -- this is the default behavior.
    To disable checkpoints, deselect the Enable Checkpoints check box.
  4. Click Apply to apply your changes. If you are done, click OK to close the dialog box.

Configure checkpoint location

If the virtual machine has no checkpoints, you can change where the checkpoint configuration and saved state files are stored.

  1. In Hyper-V Manager, right-click the name of the virtual machine, and click Settings.
  2. In the Management section, select Checkpoints or Checkpoint File Location.
  3. In Checkpoint File Location, enter the path to the folder where you would like to store the files.
  4. Click Apply to apply your changes. If you are done, click OK to close the dialog box.

The default location for storing checkpoint configuration files is: .

Checkpoint demo

This exercise walks through creating and applying a standard checkpoint versus a production checkpoint. For this example, you will make a simple change to the virtual machine and observe the different behavior.

Standard checkpoint

  1. Log into your virtual machine and create a text file on the desktop.
  2. Open the file with Notepad and enter the text ‘This is a Standard Checkpoint.’ Do not save the file or close Notepad.
  3. Change the checkpoint to standard -- instructions here.
  4. Create a new checkpoint.

Apply the Standard Checkpoint with Hyper-V Manager

Now that a checkpoint exists, make a modification to the virtual machine and then apply the checkpoint to revert the virtual machine back to the saved state.

  1. Close the text file if it is still open and delete it from the virtual machine's desktop.
  2. Open Hyper-V Manager, right click on the standard checkpoint, and select Apply.
  3. Select Apply on the Apply Checkpoint notification window.

Once the checkpoint has been applied, notice that not only is the text file present, but the system is in the exact state that it was when the checkpoint was created. In this case Notepad is open and the text file loaded.

Production checkpoint

Let’s now examine production checkpoints. This process is almost identical to working with a standard checkpoint, however will have slightly different results. Before beginning make sure you have a virtual machine and that you have changes the checkpoint type to Production checkpoints.

Modify the virtual machine and Create a Production Checkpoint

  1. Log into the virtual machine and create a new text file. If you followed the previous exercise, you can use the existing text file.
  2. Enter ‘This is a Production Checkpoint.’ into the text file, save the file but do not close Notepad.
  3. Open Hyper-V Manager, right click on the virtual machine, and select Checkpoint.
  4. Click OK on the Production Checkpoint Created Window.

Apply the Production Checkpoint with Hyper-V Manager

Now that a checkpoint exists make a modification to the system and then apply the checkpoint to revert the virtual machine back to the saved state.

  1. Close the text file if it is still open and delete it from the virtual machine's desktop.
  2. Open Hyper-V Manager, right click on the production checkpoint, and select Apply.
  3. Select Apply on the Apply Checkpoint notification window.

Once the production checkpoint has been applied, noticed that the virtual machine is in an off state.

  1. Start and log into the virtual machine.
  2. Take note that the text file has been restored. But unlike the standard checkpoint, Notepad is not open.
Sours: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/virtualization/hyper-v-on-windows/user-guide/checkpoints

What You Need to Know About Hyper-V Checkpoints

Virtualization has significantly changed the way businesses conduct their operations and provide services to customers. One of the most significant virtualization technologies is snapshots. This technology has transformed the way data is protected in virtual environments. In this blog post, we will cover the snapshot technology used in Hyper-V and describe how you can manage and configure Hyper-V checkpoints in your virtual environment.

What Is a Hyper-V Checkpoint?

Hyper-V checkpoints allow you to save the VM state at a particular point in time. Checkpoints can be very helpful if you plan to adopt some new changes to the system, such as software updates or a program installation. If an unexpected error occurs, you can revert a VM to a previous state, thus discarding all the changes made.

It is worth noting that the term ‘snapshots’ is currently used only in reference to Hyper-V snapshots created on older Windows operating systems, which were introduced prior to Windows 10.

Types of Hyper-V Checkpoints

Prior to Windows 10, Hyper-V provided only standard checkpoints. Currently, there are two types of Hyper-V checkpoints available:

  • Standard Checkpoints (formerly known as Hyper-V snapshots) take a snapshot of the VM and its memory state, which allows you to capture the VM state at a particular point in time. A standard snapshot doesn’t enable application consistency, which may result in incomplete data transactions. This is crucial for VMs running Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, or any other application/database which transfers data between different nodes. Also, note that this snapshot type shouldn’t be regarded as a full backup.
  • Production Checkpoints can create a data-consistent backup with the help of Volume Shadow Copy Service (for VMs running on Windows) or File System Freeze (for VMs running on Linux). Thus, production checkpoints are created in accordance with the backup technology inside the guest OS. When creating a production checkpoint, no snapshot of the VM memory state is taken. Note that production checkpoints are enabled by default. However, if you want to change the checkpoint type, you can use either Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell.

Managing Hyper-V Checkpoints

The following excerpt will provide guidance on how you can manage various aspects of Hyper-V checkpoints: from changing the checkpoint type to configuring the checkpoint location.

How to change the checkpoint type

As mentioned above, you can change the checkpoint type through Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell. Both approaches are described below.

Using Hyper-V Manager

1. Open Hyper-V Manager.

2. Right-click on a VM that you want to configure and select Settings.

3. Find the Management section and select Checkpoints.

4. Choose the checkpoint type. If you have selected Production checkpoints, click the checkbox below in case your guest VM doesn’t support creation of production checkpoints. This allows you to capture checkpoints with full-application state.

Choosing the checkpoint type

If you have selected Standard checkpoints, you can enable the feature of Automatic checkpoints, which automatically takes checkpoints of VMs when they’re started and deletes them as soon as they are stopped.

Using PowerShell

To change the checkpoint type, run the following commands in PowerShell:

  • To enable the Standard Checkpoint type, insert: Set-VM -Name <vmname> -CheckpointType Standard.
  • To enable the Production Checkpoint type, insert: Set-VM -Name <vmname> -CheckpointType Production. In case a production checkpoint fails, a standard checkpoint will be taken.
  • If you want to ensure that only production checkpoints are created, use the following command: Set-VM -Name <vmname> -CheckpointType ProductionOnly.

How to create checkpoints

Hyper-V checkpoints can be created using one of two ways: Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell.

Using Hyper-V Manager

1. Open Hyper-V Manager.

2. Select the VM for which the checkpoint will be created.

3. Right-click the name of the VM, and then click the Checkpoint.

Creating a new checkpoint

4. The checkpoint is created and can be accessed in the Checkpoints section below.

The Checkpoints Section

Using PowerShell

Run the following command to create Hyper-V checkpoints: Checkpoint-VM -Name <VMName>. After the checkpoint has been created, you can see a full list of VM checkpoints by using the command: Get-VMCheckpoint -VMName <VMName>.

How to revert a VM to a previous state using checkpoints

Hyper-V checkpoints are primarily used to revert a VM to its previous state. Use the steps below to apply the checkpoint for this purpose.

Using Hyper-V Manager

1. Open Hyper-V Manager.

2. Select the VM which you want to revert.

3. In the Checkpoints section, you will see the list of checkpoints created for that VM. Right-click the checkpoint that you want to use and click Apply.

Applying Hyper-V checkpoints

4. After that, a dialog box including the following options will appear:

  • Create Checkpoint and Apply: Before the chosen checkpoint is applied, a new checkpoint of the VM is created. This way the VM is protected, even if this operation fails.
  • Apply: Only the chosen checkpoint is applied. Note that this action cannot be undone.
  • Cancel: The dialog box will be closed without applying any changes.

Applying the changes to the VM

Using PowerShell

To apply the checkpoint via the PowerShell command-line interface (CLI), run the following command: Restore-VMCheckpoint -Name <checkpoint name> -VMName <VMName> -Confirm:$false.

How to delete checkpoints

In Hyper-V, checkpoints are stored as .avhdx files in the same location as the .vhdx files of the VM. As a result of deleting checkpoints, the .avhdx and .vhdx files are merged so as to save space and ensure that no critical data is lost. After that, the checkpoint’s .avhdx file is completely deleted from the file system.

To delete checkpoints using Hyper-V Manager, do the following:

1. After opening Hyper-V Manager, select the required VM.

2. In the Checkpoints section below, right-click the checkpoint that you want to delete. The drop-down menu will appear with a number of options. Click Delete Checkpoint.

If you want to delete a checkpoint tree containing the primary checkpoint and all subsequent checkpoints, right-click the earliest checkpoint that you want to delete and click Delete Checkpoint Subtree.

Deleting Checkpoints

How to enable or disable checkpoints

Using Hyper-V Manager, you can manually set up whether you want checkpoints to be taken off this VM or not. For this purpose, do the following:

1. Open Hyper-V Manager, right-click the name of the needed VM, and click Settings.

2. In the Management section, find the Checkpoints option and select it.

3. In the right pane, you will see the Enable Checkpoints checkbox. You can either select or deselect it in order to enable or disable checkpoints.

Enabling or disabling checkpoints

4. Click Apply.

How to set up a checkpoint location

Hyper-V allows you to configure where the checkpoint configuration and checkpoint saved state files will be stored. To set up a checkpoint location, follow the steps below:

1. Open Hyper-V Manager, right-click the name of the required VM, and click Settings.

2. In the Management section, find the Checkpoints option and select it.

3. In the right pane, find the Checkpoint File Location section and click Browse, or manually enter the path to the folder where the checkpoint files will be stored.

Configuring checkpoint location

4. Click Apply.

How to rename checkpoints

The standard checkpoint name includes the name of the VM, the date, and the time when the checkpoint was created (e.g. Virtual Machine – (1/5/2019 – 8:17:35 AM)). To make it more distinguishable, you can rename the selected checkpoint using either Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell.

Using Hyper-V Manager

1. Open Hyper-V Manager and select the required VM.

2. Right-click the needed checkpoint and select the Rename option, which appears in the drop-down menu.

Renaming checkpoints

3. Type in the new checkpoint name and click ENTER.

Using PowerShell

To rename the checkpoint in the PowerShell CLI, run the following command: Rename-VMCheckpoint -VMName <virtual machine name> -Name <checkpoint name> -NewName <new checkpoint name>.

Hyper-V Backup Best Practices with NAKIVO Backup & Replication

Even though Hyper-V checkpoints are used for saving the VM state at a particular point in time, they still do not provide the same level of data protection as backups. Checkpoints can pile up with time and lead to storage overhead. Checkpoints are stored in the production datastore, meaning that if the datastore gets damaged, checkpoints will be lost as well. Moreover, checkpoints can also negatively affect server performance due to increased I/O demands of having multiple checkpoints. Therefore, checkpoints can’t really be considered a reliable means of data protection and recovery.

To ensure that your data is securely protected, consider installing NAKIVO Backup & Replication, which is an efficient as well as reliable data protection solution. The product allows you to run Hyper-V backup, requiring minimal input on your part.

The following excerpt will describe the best approaches to backing up Hyper-V with NAKIVO Backup & Replication.

Create backup copies

NAKIVO Backup & Replication can be easily integrated with Hyper-V environments of any complexity, thus ensuring native Hyper-V backup. With the use of Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), the product can create application-aware backups for Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, SQL, and other applications. Moreover, Hyper-V backups are agentless, meaning that you can back up live VMs without disrupting your production environment.

However, Hyper-V backups can get accidentally lost or damaged, leaving no hope for recovery. To deal with such issues, NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides the opportunity of creating backup copies. Backup copy jobs can create copies of backups and send them from one backup repository to another, without involving source VMs. You can create multiple backup copies of a single backup and send them for storage to one or multiple locations.

Enable Resilient Change Tracking

To perform backup jobs in Hyper-V environments as fast as possible, NAKIVO Backup & Replication applies Hyper-V’s native Resilient Change Tracking (RCT) technology. Backup jobs in NAKIVO Backup & Replication are forever-incremental, meaning that only the initial backup is full, whereas all subsequent backups are incremental. RCT identifies the VM data that has changed since the previous backup and stores only unique data blocks to your backup repository. This allows you to increase the speed of backup jobs and optimize the use of storage space.

Send backups offsite

As mentioned above, you can keep backups and backup copies locally or you can send them offsite. The primary condition is that the secondary location should have an Internet connection to ensure fast and reliable data transfer. NAKIVO Backup & Replication guarantees that the process is safe because backup data can be transferred via AES 256 encrypted link, which ensures that only authorized users can access the data.

Moreover, you can use public clouds (Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure) for storing your Hyper-V backups and their copies. Even if a disaster affects your production center, you can be sure that the data stored in the cloud is safe and can be easily accessed from anywhere and at any time. Moreover, cloud environments can be easily scaled up or down, depending on your storage space requirements.

Check data integrity with backup verification

In the process of creating Hyper-V backups, there is a possibility of backup jobs getting corrupted or damaged. However, checking the state of VM backups manually can be an extremely challenging task. To this end, NAKIVO Backup & Replication has introduced the feature of block-level backup verification.

This feature is used to check VM backups at the block level and verify that the data stored in the backup repository is identical to the data stored in the source VM. The product reads each data block in a backup repository, makes a hash of each data block, and then identifies whether the new hashes match the original ones that were created during the backup. Even though this process can be time-consuming, by following it, NAKIVO Backup & Replication can prove that VM backups are functional and can be easily recovered if needed.

Moreover, NAKIVO Backup & Replication includes the feature of near-instant backup verification, also known as screenshot verification. After the backup job is completed, the product recovers the VM, disables networking, makes a screenshot of the test-recovered VM’s OS, and then discards it. The results can be viewed in the solution’s interface or received in an email report with the attached screenshot. Screenshots of test-recovered VMs serve as proof of their recoverability and data integrity.

Schedule backup jobs

If you have a large virtual environment, managing all backup jobs at once can be extremely difficult and resource-intensive. To lighten the unnecessary burden, NAKIVO Backup & Replication allows you to perform jobs not only on demand, but also on schedule. Backup jobs can be set up to run daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Alternatively, you can create a custom periodic schedule, which allows you to run jobs every 20 minutes or every three days, depending on your needs.

Even though NAKIVO Backup & Replication can run more than one Hyper-V backup job at once, it is better to avoid any overlaps during the jobs. To see all past, current, and future backup jobs, use our Calendar Dashboard feature. This way you can ensure that all your Hyper-V backup jobs run as planned and they are properly scheduled. Calendar Dashboard is an easy-to-use feature which helps you properly structure your backup jobs and improve the overall performance of you virtual infrastructure.

Encrypt backup data

To ensure that your backup data is securely protected both in flight and at rest, NAKIVO Backup & Replication applies AES 256 encryption when transferring the data over the network, or when the data is stored in the backup repository. This feature allows to protect created Hyper-V backups against an unauthorized access and ensures that VM data will not get corrupted by hackers.

Set up backup policies

NAKIVO Backup & Replication has recently introduced the feature of policy-based data protection, which minimizes the level of manual VM management. This is especially challenging in large-scale virtual environments, with multiple jobs running at the same time. With policy-based data protection, you can set up policies that can scan your infrastructure on a regular basis and automatically protect VMs that match policy rules. The policy rules can include the VM name, size, location, power state, configuration, or a combination of these parameters. This feature lets you save considerably on time and effort.

Conclusion

Hyper-V checkpoints are extremely useful when it comes to backing up your virtual infrastructure. Creating checkpoints allows you to revert the VM to a previous state so as to discard all the unwanted configuration changes and updates, which have caused issues within the system. However, checkpoints can’t be regarded as a substitute for backups. Unlike backups, Hyper-V checkpoints can’t be used for long-term data protection and they do not guarantee the system recovery if too many items have been changed. Therefore, it is advisable to find a reliable and efficient data protection software which provides a full-fledged tool set for a fraction of the price. NAKIVO Backup & Replication is the solution that fits this description perfectly. We have listed above the best practices for ensuring efficient Hyper-V backups. However, this is only a small fraction of what the product can do. Request a live demo by one of our engineers or download a full-featured free trial to test the product in your virtual environment today and see for yourself the multiple benefits that it provides.

Backup Solution for Hyper-V

Sours: https://www.nakivo.com/hyper-v-backup/need-know-hyper-v-checkpoints/
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Top 10 Facts About Hyper-V Snapshots

March 5, 2019

byJessie Reed

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Taking storage snapshots has proven to be an extremely effective feature for those working in virtual environments. However, snapshot technology might backfire if used without proper knowledge of how it works, what pros and cons it entails, and how snapshots can function in your IT infrastructure. This blog post describes how storage snapshots are used in Hyper-V virtual environments and presents you with a list of the top 10 things that you should know about Hyper-V snapshots.

What is a Hyper-V snapshot?

A Hyper-V snapshot (currently known as a Hyper-V checkpoint) represents a point-in-time copy of a selected virtual machine (VM), which allows you to capture the VM state, data, and its hardware configuration at a particular moment. Hyper-V snapshots are primarily used to revert a VM to its previous state in case any unnecessary changes were applied to the VM and the user wants to discard them. The main advantage of this technology is that Hyper-V snapshots can be easily and rapidly taken online and offline, without causing any workflow interruptions within a running VM. In Hyper-V, multiple snapshots can be created, deleted, and applied to a single VM.

Key things about Hyper-V snapshots

Below, we list the top 10 facts about Hyper-V snapshots that every Hyper-V user should be aware of to successfully utilize this technology in their virtual environments.

  • Hyper-V snapshots are in fact called checkpoints

Some of you may wonder why we refer to the snapshot technology in Hyper-V as snapshots and not as checkpoints. It is true that along with the release of Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V snapshots were renamed to Hyper-V checkpoints in Hyper-V Manager in order to match the terminology long applied in System Center Virtual Machine Management (SCVMM). This can be seen as an attempt of Microsoft to create uniform Hyper-V terminology, which would be distinct from its main competitors.

Both of these terms (Hyper-V snapshots and Hyper-V checkpoints) are equally valid; therefore, we will use both of them in this blog post. For example, the Get-VMSnapshot cmdlet and the Get-VMCheckpoint command are both functional and can be used interchangeably in PowerShell.

Running Hyper-V Snapshot Commands in PowerShell

  • Hyper-V snapshots are stored as AVHD(X) files

In Hyper-V, when a new Hyper-V snapshot is taken, a new AVHD(X) file is created, which contains only the data captured at that particular moment. Along with the differencing disk, the VM saved state files (BIN and VSV) and the snapshot configuration file (XML) are created. AVHD(X) files are stored in the same location as the original virtual hard disk.

After the snapshot is created, all the changes in data are tracked and saved in the corresponding differencing disk (AVHD(X) file) until the new Hyper-V snapshot is created or this one is deleted. At the same time, the original VHD file operates in a read-only mode.

  • Hyper-V snapshots can be standard or production

Prior to the release of Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10, only one snapshot type existed – Standard. This type of snapshots can capture the VM state at a particular point time, including its memory. However, standard snapshots proved not to be sufficiently effective when applied in production environments. Due to this, Hyper-V production snapshots were introduced. The main advantage of production snapshots is that they apply Volume Shadow Copy Service (for Windows) or File System Freeze (for Linux) to create data-consistent and application-aware snapshots of the VM. Thus, Hyper-V production snapshots have proven themselves to be extremely helpful in production environments.

Note that Hyper-V production snapshots are selected by default but you can modify the snapshot type in Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell.

  • Hyper-V snapshots can be used to revert system changes

Hyper-V snapshots are generally created before installing new software, adopting configuration changes, performing operating system (OS) updates, or making registry changes. Software updates and configuration changes may fail and lead to some undesirable results. Thus, it is a feasible option to create VM snapshots beforehand and use them in order to discard the adopted changes and roll back the VM to its previous state.

  • Hyper-V snapshots prove to be extremely effective in test and development environments

It is clear that Hyper-V snapshots allow you to easily and rapidly revert the VM to its previous state before any damaging changes are applied. Due to this, they can be considered a feasible tool for test and development environments.

Moreover, using Hyper-V snapshots in production environment is not advisable because AVHD(X) files have the tendency to rapidly grow in size and take up extra disk space, which eventually affects your server performance.

  • Hyper-V snapshots are not a backup alternative

The most important thing that you should know about Hyper-V snapshots is that they are not backups and cannot provide the same level of data protection as backup software. VM snapshots are merely a short-term solution for saving the VM state at a particular point in time but it doesn’t actually create a copy of the virtual disk. Hyper-V snapshots cannot protect against issues that might affect the host. If the VM gets damaged, created snapshots will be deleted as a result. Thus, the main virtual disk remains a single point of failure in your environment.

  • Default location of Hyper-V snapshots is the folder with the original VHD(X) file

Hyper-V automatically assigns a default location for its snapshots. Generally, it is the folder which contains the original virtual hard disk and all differencing disks are automatically created in the same location as their parent disk.

However, when using Hyper-V Manager, you can choose where the snapshot configuration and snapshot saved state files for a selected VM will be stored. For this purpose, open Hyper-V Manager and make sure that there are no Hyper-V snapshots for this VM. Click Settings and select the Checkpoints category. In Checkpoint File Location, click Browse and select the folder where the files will be stored. To complete the operation, click Apply and then OK.

Configuring Hyper-V Snapshot Location

Consider changing the default snapshot location to another media to prevent AVHD(X) files from piling up and consuming the entire disk space.

  • Hyper-V snapshots should not be deleted but merged

When you have multiple snapshots on a single host, they generally take up a lot of space, which negatively affects server performance. Because of this, you must delete Hyper-V snapshots from time to time to free up space on a Hyper-V host. However, AVHD(X) files should not be deleted directly from the system folder. Instead, they should be merged.

During the merge operation, AVHD(X) files are merged with the parent disk. After the operation is complete, the snapshot files will be deleted from the system. To merge Hyper-V snapshots, use Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell cmdlets.

  • Hyper-V snapshot name should be unique

When a Hyper-V snapshot is first created, a standard name is automatically assigned to it. The default name of a Hyper-V snapshot has the following format: VM name - (MM/DD/YYY -hh:mm:ss AM\PM). This type of name can be confusing at times, especially when working with multiple Hyper-V snapshots. Therefore, we recommend you to rename VM snapshots to make them distinguishable from one another. Give each snapshot a unique name containing details about the VM state at the point of time when the snapshot was taken. Once again, Hyper-V Manager and PowerShell can be used to rename Hyper-V snapshots.

  • Multiple Hyper-V snapshots can form a snapshot tree

If you open Hyper-V Manager and look at the created checkpoints, you will notice that the way they are structured resembles the form of a tree, with each branch stemming from the one which precedes it.

Multiple Hyper-V Snapshots Can Form a Snapshot Tree

When you have multiple checkpoints in your infrastructure, they are not sorted out randomly but organized in parent-child hierarchies, whereby a single checkpoint is referred to as the parent of a checkpoint created after it (which is called a child). Note that a single checkpoint tree can include up to 50 checkpoints. You must monitor the state of the checkpoint tree to ensure that it doesn’t grow too much in size, because this will decrease the VM performance and reduce the disk space.

Why Use NAKIVO Backup & Replication

As already mentioned above, Hyper-V snapshots cannot be regarded as a reliable substitute for data backups. The only feasible option in this case is to install third-party software which can ensure reliable data protection and efficient system recovery of the entire infrastructure. NAKIVO Backup & Replication is the solution that can provide you with multiple data protection options and a rich feature set.

NAKIVO Backup & Replication allows you to protect VMware, Hyper-V, and AWS EC2 virtual environments. For that purpose, you can:

  • Perform image-based, application-aware, incremental backup jobs, which can be easily scheduled based on your business needs and infrastructure priorities.
  • Copy VM backups and send those copies offsite or to the cloud to avoid the risk of having a single point of failure.
  • Run replication jobs to create and store VM replicas at a remote location, which can be powered on to take on the production workload when a disaster strikes.
  • Orchestrate and automate the DR process by creating multiple site recovery workflows. Each of these can be easily tailored to serve a specific purpose (disaster recovery, disaster avoidance, planned migration, etc.) or address a specific DR scenario (hacker attack, failed system update, etc.).

Each of these data protection options includes full-fledged functionality and, thus, entails numerous benefits such as storage space optimization, time and effort saving, enhanced performance, speed boosting, reduced management overhead, increased reliability, disaster recovery (DR) automation, and affordability.

Conclusion

Despite the many advantages that Hyper-V snapshots have, their functionality is still not advanced enough to ensure reliable data protection. Therefore, Hyper-V snapshots can be effectively used only in certain cases such as development and testing, where you need to see the immediate results of your work and have the opportunity to revert changes in the system.

If you are looking for a reliable solution offering multiple data protection options, packed with various features, and available for a fraction of the standard price, NAKIVO Backup & Replication is one of the best choices on the market.

Request a live demo by one of our engineers or download a full-featured free trial to test the product in your virtual environment today and see for yourself the multiple benefits that it provides.

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Top 10 Facts About Hyper-V Snapshots

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Why Virtual Machine Checkpoints and Snapshots can be Dangerous

Creating and Managing Hyper-V Snapshots


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In this chapter of Hyper-V Essentials, the creation and management of virtual machine snapshots will be covered.



What is a Hyper-V Virtual Machine Snapshot?

Hyper-V virtual machine snapshots allow the status of a virtual machine (and the corresponding guest operating system) at a particular time to be saved such that it can be reverted to that state at any point in the future. Hyper-V snapshots contain both the configuration settings of the virtual machine, and the state of the guest operating system at the point the snapshot is taken. Snapshots may be taken of virtual machines when they are running, stopped or saved. It is not possible, however, to take a snapshot of a paused Hyper-V virtual machine.

When a snapshot is taken of a saved or running virtual machine, the snapshot contains the status of both the file system and the memory used by the guest operating system. As such, when the virtual machine is reverted to the snapshot everything, including applications running at the time the snapshot was taken, will be restored to the snapshot status.

Virtual machines are reverted to a snapshot status by applying the desired snapshot to the virtual machine.


Taking Hyper-V Virtual Machine Snapshots

Snapshots may be taken of a virtual machine using a number of different approaches using either the Hyper-V Manager or the Virtual Machine Connection tool.

From the Virtual Machine Connection tool window click on the Action->Snapshot.. menu option, or click on the snapshot button located in the toolbar. Alternatively, launch the Hyper-V Manager (Start->Administrative Tools->Hyper-V Manager). Once launched, right click on the virtual machine for which the snapshot is to be taken and select Snapshot from the popup menu. Snapshots may also be triggered by selecting the desired virtual machine from the Hyper-V Manager list and clicking on the Snapshot link in the Actions panel.

When a snapshot is taken from the Virtual Machine Connection tool, a dialog will appear while the snapshot is in progress providing the option to give the snapshot a name other than the default name. If no snapshot name is given, or any of the other methods of taking a snapshot are used, the default name of the snapshot will be constructed using the name of the virtual machine combined with the date and time that the snapshot was taken.

Whilst the snapshot is being taken, the Operations entry for the virtual machine will in the Hyper-V Manager will display Taking snapshot together with a percentage value indicating the progress of the snapshot process.

Hyper-V Manager Snapshot Trees

Snapshots taken of virtual machines are presented in Hyper-V Manager in the form of a snapshot tree, with one tree for each virtual machine. Each new snapshot taken of a virtual machine is added to a new level of the tree for that machine. The snapshot tree for a virtual machine appears in the Hyper-V Manager Snapshot panel when the virtual machine is selected from the list. A typical Hyper-V Manager snapshot tree is illustrated in the following figure:


A Hyper-V Manager virtual machine snapshot tree


If the selected virtual machine is currently running, as is the case in the above illustration, an additional tree entry in the form a green arrow and the word Now represents the currently running virtual machine. Right clicking on this tree item provides options to connect to, or access the settings of the virtual machine.

As each snapshot in a tree is selected, the panel beneath the tree panel will update to display additional information about the snapshot together with a thumbnail screenshot of the virtual machine's console at the point the snapshot was initiated. The following figure shows a typical detail panel for a snapshot:


The Hyper-V Manager snapshot details panel

Managing and Applying Virtual Machine Snapshots

Once a virtual machine snapshot has been selected from the snapshot tree within the Hyper-V Manager tool, a number of tasks may be performed on that snapshot. These actions are listed both in the lower section of the Actions panel, or from a menu when right clicking on the snapshot:

Action

Description

ApplyApplies the snapshot to the virtual machine from which it was taken. The virtual machine will revert to the exact state it was in when the snapshot was taken. Any changes made to the virtual machine since the snapshot was taken will be lost. Hyper-V will provide the option to take a new snapshot of the virtual machine's current state before applying the old snapshot.
RenameAllows the name assigned to the snapshot to be changed.
Delete SnapshotDeletes the snapshot and all associated files from the system. This action is irreversible.
Delete Snapshot SubtreeDeletes the currently selected snapshot and all other snaphots which are located beneath it in the tree.
SettingsAllows the settings of the virtual machine at the time of the snapshot to be viewed. Modification of settings is disabled.

The Anatomy of a Hyper-V Snapshot

When a snapshot is taken of a Hyper-V virtual machine, a number of files are generated. These files are stored, by default, in %SystemRoot%\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Hyper-V\Snapshots. The ProgramData folder is typically a hidden folder and as such will not be visible in Windows Explorer. To view the folder and its contents, therefore, select Tools->Folder Options..., select the View tab and enable the option to Show hidden files and folders. The default snapshot file location may be changed on a per virtual machine basis by selecting the virtual machine in the Hyper-V Manager list, clicking on the Settings... link in the Actions panel and modifying the Snapshot File Location value in the Management settings section.

Each snapshot consists of the following files:

  • Configuration file - An XML file containing the current configuration settings of the virtual machine.
  • Saved state file - A .vsv file containing virtual machine state information.
  • Differencing disk image file - A .avhd differencing disk.
  • Memory image file - A .bin file containing an image of the virtual machine's memory at the point the snapshot was taken.
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Snapshot hyperv

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Hyper-V: Checkpoint system explained - Crash course

Finally my mother came up to me, hugged me, and I, I dont know why, burst into tears. In the evening, mom and I talked for a long time. It turns out the so-called vitamins are female hormonal preparations that she fed me so that I became "quieter", because my mother. Was constantly afraid that she might lose me, as she lost her father, so she wanted me to be constantly near her.

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