Virtualization is an easy way to try out multiple operating systems without having to install and uninstall them. Modern virtualization software such as VMware offers many advanced features that make managing virtual machines much easier.
One such feature is the ability to take a snapshot of a virtual machine (VM). Let’s learn how to take a VM snapshot in VMware Workstation Player for free.
What is a virtual machine snapshot?
A VM snapshot is a saved state of a virtual machine. When you take a snapshot, the virtualization software saves the state of the VM and all data on it. This is especially useful when analyzing malware or experimenting with a virtual machine. If your VM breaks, you can restore it to a healthy state at any time by simply restoring the snapshot from an earlier date.
While users with paid subscriptions can enjoy this feature in VMware, those using the free version will not be able to take snapshots. However, there is an easy solution to take snapshots. It takes time and management, but it works just as well!
How to Take a Snapshot in VMware Workstation Player for Free
When you take a snapshot, it essentially backs up the data and status of the machine. We will do that, but manually. There are two steps in this process. Backup first and then add it as a separate virtual machine in VMware Workstation Player.
1. Backup all VM files
First, you need to copy and paste all VM files into a backup folder. Here are the steps:
- As a preliminary step, shut down your VM and close the VMware workstation player. Additionally, check for and terminate all instances of VMware using Task Manager on Windows or Activity Monitor on Mac.
- Right click on the VM and open Settings > Hard Drive to find the path where all its data is stored.
- Navigate to the location in the file explorer.
- Touch Ctrl + A on your keyboard to select all items and copy them with Ctrl + C.
- Now create a new folder somewhere on your drive and name it easily: “Vm_snapshot”
- Paste all the items you copied in the folder with Ctrl + V.
2. Add the backup as a new VM in VMware Workstation Player
Now that you’ve made a backup, i.e. an identical copy of your VM, it’s time to load it onto VMware to use as a snapshot. Here’s how to add the VM to VMware Workstation Player:
- Start a new instance of VMware Workstation Player.
- click on Player > File > Open and navigate to the location of the VM backup.
- Confirm the settings and add the VM to VMware Workstation Player.
- Run it as you would with a regular image. It should boot just fine and you should find it in the state you closed the original VM in.
That’s all you need to do to manually save a VM snapshot to VMware Workstation Player for free. Repeat the process each time you want to take a snapshot.
Choose the right virtualization software for you
While there are several options for getting started with virtualization, VMware and VirtualBox are the industry leaders for all the right reasons. However, depending on your budget and, more importantly, the nature of your job, either of these two may be the better option. If you’re not sure which one to settle for, check out this guide, where their pros and cons have been analyzed in detail.