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Thread: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

  1. #1
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    HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    Description of a Snapshot in VirtualBox:
    * A Snapshot is like a making system restore point for your virtual operating system. This is how it's done.

    System Tool>VirtualBox>Snapshot>Take Snapshot
    Title: *Whatever You Want* (Mine are usally Dates like "Since 02/06/08*)
    Description: *Whatever You Want* (Mine talks about Fresh Installation of the OS or whatever is install during each snapshots.)


    Now, everything up to this point has been saved, but now, you are currently working with the new snapshot. So, basicly: the new snapshot *Whatever You Want* snapshot [Mine was "Since 02/06/08]) is going to be used for now on. Meaning any files and/or installation of applications will be saved under *Whatever You Want* snapshot (Mine was "Since 02/06/08) for now on. You can as well make additional snapshots as time increase or any time during your time with your virtual operating system. Maybe a snapshot day by day, if you want really wanted.

    Example:
    ***NOTE: To make new snapshot: (like adove)
    System Tool>VirtualBox>Snapshot>Take Snapshot
    Title: *Whatever_You_Want*
    Description: *Whatever_You_Want_For_a_Description*

    To start off:
    - Make New snapshot call it "Whatever_You_Want" (for this Example I will use a snapshot called "Since 02/07/08")
    - Boot up your Virtual Operating System (for this example I will use "Windows Vista")
    - Create a folder on your desktop, call it "New Folder" (Mine was "02/07/08")
    - Shut down the Virtual Operating System (Mine was Windows Vista)
    - Create another snapshot "Whatever_You_Want2" (for this Example I will use "Since 02/08/08")
    - Boot up your Virtual Operating System (Mine was Windows Vista)
    - Create another folder on your desktop, call it "New Folder (2)" (Mine was "02/08/08")
    - Now, You should see two folders on the Desktop "New Folder" & "New Folder (2)" (Mine was "02/07/08" & "02/08/08")
    - Shut down your Virtual Operating System (Mine was Windows Vista)
    - Revert back to "Whatever_You_Want" (Mine was "02/07/08")
    *Note:Within VirtualBox>Snapshots (#)>click on "Whatever_You_Want2" (Mine was "Since 02/08/08")>click the icon that says "Revert to Current Snapshot (Crtl+Shift+R)
    - Start up your Virtual Operating System (Mine was Windows Vista)
    - Look at your desktop
    - Now, You will only see the one folder named "New Folder" (Mine was "02/07/08")
    - You have fullly loaded up "Whatever_You_Want" snapshot (Mine was "Since 02/07/08" snapshot)


    "Revert a Snapshot" Reverting to an old Snapshot and "Discard a Snapshot" Discarding the current Snapshot:
    Be careful, these two options "Revert a Snapshot" and "Discard a Snapshot" are very different.

    "Revert a Snapshot" allows you to use the snapshot before the current snapshot you are using at the moment, but the current snapshot is still store. (like in the Example, "Whatever_You_Want" [Mine was "02/07/08])

    "Discard a Snapshot" deletes the current Snapshot. Now, you HAVE to use the Snapshot before the snapshot you just deleted. (like in the Example, "Discard a Snapshot" "Whatever_You_Want2" [Mine was "02/08/08"] and now you HAVE to use snapshot "Whatever_You_Want" [Mine was "02/07/08"]).



    I wrote this long HOWTO on Snapshots, because I always write little notes on my personal computer adventures. Everything from installing a game through wine to terminal codes. It's so I don't forget anything. A while back, I discard my one of my current state on my windows virtual operating system (I didn't mean to >.<) and had no snapshot to revert back to. I lost a few months of homework and fully working seamless windows operating system within my linux box. So, I am hoping someone out there will takes my advince and make a snapshots of their operating system. Hopefully a few snapshots. So, they don't lose everything like I did. :-/

    Desktop with XP
    http://ubuntuforums.org/attachment.p...1&d=1202363645

    Cheers,
    Sugi
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Sugi; March 24th, 2008 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Everyone need pictures :)
    WINE: Super Meat Boy // Far Cry 2 // Lineage 2
    VirtualBox: Snapshots // OSE Issues
    アンディモリを聞いてください。

  2. #2
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    Great howto. I also have had a lot of issues with snapshots and understanding how they work. I love VB but their snapshot terminology really sucks.

    I still don't understand what to select to incorporate the current "machine state" or snapshot as the "default".

    Let say I have my original default VDI (a basic install). I take a snapshot on say 03/20/08. I then install some software and take another snapshot on 03/21/08. I install some more software and take a snapshot on 03/23/08. Everything is working good so I want to keep the machine state as it is on 03/23/08 with all of the software and changes. If I just "leave" the snapshots and do nothing I will be ok BUT the other previous snapshots are taking up disk space. So, is there a way to get rid of them and make the "last" snapshot I took on 03/23/08 the "only" disk image/snapshot???

  3. #3
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    I'm a bit confused about the terminology of the "state" of my computer being saved. If I install a new piece of software to a snapshot, will it be t here when I next open the snapshot or does it revert to before I installed the software? In other words, do I have to create a new snapshot sfter every piece of software is installed ?

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dccrens View Post
    Great howto. I also have had a lot of issues with snapshots and understanding how they work. I love VB but their snapshot terminology really sucks.

    I still don't understand what to select to incorporate the current "machine state" or snapshot as the "default".

    Let say I have my original default VDI (a basic install). I take a snapshot on say 03/20/08. I then install some software and take another snapshot on 03/21/08. I install some more software and take a snapshot on 03/23/08. Everything is working good so I want to keep the machine state as it is on 03/23/08 with all of the software and changes. If I just "leave" the snapshots and do nothing I will be ok BUT the other previous snapshots are taking up disk space. So, is there a way to get rid of them and make the "last" snapshot I took on 03/23/08 the "only" disk image/snapshot???
    No, these *fine* people do not supply a way to merge snapshots as I think will be the proper way to name this functionality. There was a ticket, ignored by them saying (http://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/1101):
    01/17/08 10:19:10 changed by michael

    I'm not exactly clear about what you want here. The "Discard snapshot" feature merges the snapshot disk image into the parent disk image.
    which of course is absolutely utter rubbishly wrong. I've just lost 5 hours of configuration and work ... thank god I've used version control, so not everything had been lost, but still it is very annoying.

    Please, stay away from snapshots, for now ( 05/17/2008 ), it is much better to make backups from your VDI manually, at least you will not be lied in your expectations.

  5. #5
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    Cool, this is good to know.

    So I should copy the .vdi to say a DVD for safety and then if my install of W2K goes wonky I can just pop that baby back in from the DVD, right?

  6. #6
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlappyPappy View Post
    Cool, this is good to know.

    So I should copy the .vdi to say a DVD for safety and then if my install of W2K goes wonky I can just pop that baby back in from the DVD, right?
    Yes, as long as you do not use snapshots, it should be fine.

  7. #7
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    I've had a wonky experience with snapshots myself.

    I had fresh WinXP install patched as of 1st May. The vdi file was 1.8 GB large. I took a snapshot called pre-SP3 and proceeded with installing SP3 on the machine. Very quickly I was surprised that I ran out of space on my root partition because the snapshot grew to over 2 GB in size. I find it funny that it came to overgrow the size of the vdi it was supposed to revert to.

    So yeah, just backing up the current vdi file manually seems to be the most space efficient method for now, although it isn't exactly time efficient.

  8. #8
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    Quote Originally Posted by delian66 View Post
    No, these *fine* people do not supply a way to merge snapshots as I think will be the proper way to name this functionality.
    This is not entirely correct.
    Merge works just fine.

    What you do is "Discard"ing snapshots, one by one, by discarding always the *topmost* one until you have only the "Current state" entry left. Done.

    Everything is now merged into a single file.

    Note that discarding from bottom up has a very, very different effect, and a confusing one.

    Regards,
    /Chris Z.

  9. #9
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    Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    You know, I had to play with this for quite a spell before how "merges" worked. *IF* I understand things correctly, the tree view is really just a temporal history, and not a "component history", that is, each snapshot stands on its own from the base image.

    This is why "discarding" early snapshots is actually merging them, because the last image already contains all the preceding snapshots already merged in. If you have the following snapshots:

    base-> snap1 -> snap2 -> snap3

    You can just "discard" snap1 and end up with

    base-> snap2 -> snap3

    Because the later snapshots don't "need" snap1, snap1 is already incorporated into them

    Granted, this isn't obvious (can't say I like the UI for this feature), but now that I understand it, I can live with it.

  10. #10
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    Red face Re: HOWTO: VirtualBox Snapshots. The Ins and Outs of Snapshots.

    wow. wish I saw this topic earlier. but it was stupid of me for not backing anything up. I set up a VirtualBox image with Ubuntu Server so I could run a PHP/MySQL server within my own computer for web development.
    I spent a night writing some new scripts... it was late and when I powered off I chose' Power Off Machine (Discard Snapshot). I didn't think the snapshot had anything to do with the VDI image, so I ended up losing that information.
    luckily it was only 1 night, not months like with your homework....

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