Virtual machine snapshot definition
A virtual machine snapshot is a copy of a virtual machine’s entire state, including its memory, disk, and settings. Snapshots preserve the state and data of the virtual machine at a specific point in time. Looking at a VM snapshot, a user can understand whether the VM was on or off at the time, know which files made up the machine, and what applications were running. While virtual machine snapshots can be used for various purposes, they’re particularly handy for VM recovery. However, a snapshot alone is not enough to back up the virtual machine — they simply provide information about the VM at a particular moment.
See also: host virtual machine
How do virtual machine snapshots work?
- The snapshot records the contents of the virtual machine’s memory (RAM) at that specific moment. This helps users restore the VM to its exact state, including running processes.
- It also captures the state of the VM’s virtual disks, including the data, configurations, and file systems.
- Any processes, applications, or services that were actively running within the VM at the time of the snapshot are part of the snapshot’s captured state.
- The snapshot also records network settings and connections, including IP addresses.
- Each snapshot typically includes metadata, such as a timestamp and a user-defined description. Having this information helps identify the purpose and timing of the snapshot.