This short guide on How to Create VM snapshot on KVM aims at helping you use KVM virsh commands to take a snapshot of a VM. I’ll also include steps for restoring to an old snapshot of the VM.

I assume you have a working KVM server with Virsh Commands. If you’re new and would like to setup KVM, use the link:

Install KVM on CentOS 7 / Ubuntu 16.04 / Debian 9 / SLES 12 / Arch Linux

KVM architecture
KVM Architecture (linuxnix)

Create VM on KVM

Once you have KVM running, if you don’t have a test vm, you can install it using a virsh command like below:

sudo virt-install \
--name centos7 \
--description "Test VM with CentOS 7" \
--ram=1024 \
--vcpus=2 \
--os-type=Linux \
--os-variant=rhel7 \
--disk path=/var/lib/libvirt/images/centos7.qcow2,bus=virtio,size=10 \
--graphics none \
--location $HOME/iso/CentOS-7-x86_64-Everything-1611.iso \
--network bridge:virbr0  \
--console pty,target_type=serial -x 'console=ttyS0,115200n8 serial'

This will install CentOS VM with:

  • named centos7
  • 2gb ram
  • 2vcpu
  • 10gb virtual disk
  • default bridge attached – virbr0

Answer all questions asked during normal installation of CentOS. VM will be autostarted once the installation is done.

Create VM snapshot on KVM

With your VM running, let’s proceed to create a snapshot. For a later demonstration on restoring VM state to snapshot, I’ll create two snapshots.

$ sudo virsh snapshot-create-as --domain centos7 \
--name "centos7_vm_snapshot1" \
--description "centos7 vm snapshot 1"

Domain snapshot centos7_vm_snapshot1 created

Before we take a second snapshot, le’s install few packages:

$ sudo yum -y install vim elinks epel-release

I’ll then take the second snapshot:

$ sudo virsh snapshot-create-as --domain centos7 \
--name "centos7_vm_snapshot2" \
--description "centos7 vm snapshot 2"

Domain snapshot centos7_vm_snapshot2 created

We’re now set to go.

List VM Snapshots on KVM

We have two snapshots taken initially, let’s check if we can see all these snapshots:

$ sudo virsh snapshot-list test
 Name Creation Time State
centos7_vm_snapshot1 2018-03-24 22:09:48 +0300 shutoff
centos7_vm_snapshot2 2018-03-24 02:09:28 +0300 running

Revert to VM Snapshot on KVM

To revert to a snapshot on KVM, use the commands shown below:

$ sudo virsh snapshot-revert --domain centos7 --snapshotname \
centos7_vm_snapshot1 --running

The VM should be restored to a state that we took the first snapshot.

Delete VM Snapshot on KVM

If you no longer need the VM snapshot, you can delete it using the command snapshot-delete followed by the name of the snapshot.

$ sudo virsh snapshot-delete --domain centos7 --snapshotname centos7_vm_snapshot1
Domain snapshot centos7_vm_snapshot1 deleted

If you check a list of available snapshots now, you should see only one snapshot.

$ sudo virsh snapshot-list test

Display Snapshot details on KVM

Use the option snapshot-info with the virsh command to get more details about a given snapshot on KVM.

sudo virsh snapshot-info --domain "$1" "$2"


Argument 1:  domain name
Argument 2: Snapshot name

This guide has covered most basic snapshot management commands for KVM. Drop a comment if you have any issue and I’ll be happy to help.

Also look at complete Virsh cheatsheet for more examples on how to use Virsh:

virsh commands cheatsheet to manage KVM guest virtual machines

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