Finding and Eliminating Dangerous vSphere Snapshots with Snapwatcher (for Free)
The word “dangerous” is often used for hazardous chemicals or live ammunition so can vSphere snapshots really be dangerous or is that an exaggeration? The answer is that, for the health of your vSphere infrastructure, snapshots can absolutely be dangerous. Snapshots that are left unchecked and growing out of control can bring your entire vSphere infrastructure and all your critical applications to a halt. I’d say that’s dangerous! Dangerous for your company’s profits and future. Dangerous for your career growth.
Sure you can try to monitor snapshots from VMware vCenter and usually, if you do that regularly, you’ll be okay. However, there are a few reasons why doing that alone is a bad idea-
- Drilling down to get a list of all snapshots in the entire vSphere infrastructure takes quite a few clicks. Snapshot manager for each VM may not show every snapshot if there are broken snapshots. Going into Storage Reporting will list the snapshot files in each datastore and their size but it must be done for every data store, one at a time.
- Someone having the discipline to manually check the status of snapshots, buried down the vSphere web client, each week is… unlikely… (yes, there are some scripts that you can use but, if you are like me, you don’t need any more scripts running than you already have)
So what you REALLY need is a smart robot that is working each day to FIND, ANALYZE, and help you FIX any potential snapshot issues BEFORE they bring down your vSphere infrastructure, right?
Normally, I would say that what you WANT, you aren’t going to get HOWEVER, I recently ran across a free tool that actually does all this for you…
VMware vExpert Dennis Zimmer is well known in the VMware community for his virtualization monitoring and troubleshooting tool – opvizor. Recently, he announced that they have created an all new tool that they have made completely free – Snapwatcher.
When it comes to vSphere Snapshot monitoring and clean up, Snapwatcher is more resourceful and useful than any of the robots in this post (either Wall-E or “The Robot” from Lost in Space). Here are the functions that Snapwatcher can perform:
- Monitor VMware snapshots across VMware vCenter systems and report your efforts saving space.
- Track snapshots, find invalid snapshots – leverage the powerful grid to handle hundreds of snapshots smooth and simple.
- Free precious disk space wasted by fixing broken, old and invalid snapshots with a click.
Here’s what Dennis Zimmer said about why he created Snapwatcher:
“81% of all VMware vSphere environments are affected by invalid snapshot or invalid snapshots that are notoriously hard to detect. Because each Snapshot’s Delta-file can grow to be the same size as their original files, you can easily develop space shortages in your data stores with enough broken snapshots. This is a common problem for anyone as invalid snapshots are hidden and customers keep their snapshots a lot longer than planned and perform large changes on their virtual machines while using snapshots ” says Dennis Zimmer, CEO and founder of opvizor.
After reading about Snapwatcher from Opvizor and from multiple other bloggers I figured I would give it a try in my lab. It was tiny to download, super-easy to install, and began working as soon as I told it how to access my vCenter server. I was able to view all my snapshots across all hosts and datastores, analyze those snapshots, report on their age, size, status (and more), delete snapshots as needed, fix broken and inconsistent snapshots, and take my snapshot history.
Here’s what Snapwatcher looks like once it has found some snapshots and running it’s snapshot analysis:
Instead of telling you all about it, it’s easier if you would just watch the demo video below, or even better, give Snapwatcher a try for yourself, for free, in your own vSphere environment and see what it finds. If it helps you clean up some of your snapshots I’d love to hear about it – post your experience in our comments below.