May 22, 2024

What are VirtualBox guest snapshots and how do you take them?

5 min read


Woman working on laptop

Marko Geber/Getty Photographs

For a extremely prolonged time, VirtualBox has been my go-to for digital equipment. It really is cost-free and has served me quite effectively. 

With VirtualBox, I can make any selection of host working programs, which tends to make it doable for me to run numerous Linux distributions and even MacOS or Home windows

Scenario in point, I at this time have 36 various visitor working units installed and all set to go at any time.

1 way I have managed to preserve my visitor VMs working effortlessly is by having standard snapshots. 

Also: How to decide on the appropriate Linux desktop distribution

This is one of the VirtualBox attributes I count on.

What are VirtualBox guest snapshots and how do you choose them?

Merely set, a snapshot is a way to help save a virtual equipment in its present-day state. Permit me even more make clear this by way of an illustration.

Say, for instance, you have a virtual machine for Ubuntu desktop that is managing to perfection. Even so, you want to examination a configuration or application that you happen to be not rather positive about. In advance of you start out the installation of that application or make that configuration, you choose a snapshot of the latest state. You then put in the application or make the configuration, and it breaks the desktop. No issue what you test, you are not able to get it back again. 

What do you do? You revert to the snapshot you just took, where by every little thing was functioning to perfection. When reverted, you have your desktop back and you are superior to go.

Also: How to produce a Linux virtual machine with VirtualBox 

Which is how critical snapshots are. Now, enable me to clearly show you how they do the job.


The only factors you may want are a functioning occasion of VirtualBox and a visitor VM. It isn’t going to subject what working methods provide as the host or the visitor, as the system is the same.

That’s all you need to have. Let’s get to the snapshots.

To consider a snapshot of a guest, the 1st thing you must do is shut down the guest working procedure. Make confident to do this by way of the guest OS’s standard shutdown course of action. 

For occasion, with Ubuntu, you would click on the system tray in the higher ideal corner, click the electrical power button, and then click on Electric power Off.

The Ubuntu Linux power off menu.

Powering off Ubuntu Linux 22.04.

Graphic: Jack Wallen

Proper-click the guest VM for which you want to get the snapshot and click Snapshots.

The VirtualBox virtual machine right-click menu.

Accessing the VirtualBox Snapshots element by means of the suitable-click menu.

Picture: Jack Wallen

In the resulting toolbar, click on Consider, which will open up a popup. In the popup, give the snapshot a title and an optional description. 

Also: How to spin up a Linux virtual equipment swiftly with Packing containers

I would advocate the name be one thing like the date and the description be together the lines of “Pre-X Configuration” or “Pre-X-Set up,” exactly where X is the application to be configured or put in. The point is to make the snapshot as evident as attainable, so you really don’t have to guess when you have various snapshots.

The VirtualBox snapshot creation window.

Naming a new VirtualBox snapshot.

Picture: Jack Wallen

How to revert to a snapshot

Once the snapshot is taken, it’s then out there for you to use. If you simply click on the VM listing in the still left pane, you can see two points: The snapshot and the existing state. The existing point out could be the broken condition you are unable to use. 

The VirtualBox restore button.

We have created a snapshot that can now be restored.

Impression: Jack Wallen

If the current point out is unusable, click on the identify of the snapshot you established and then click Restore. You can also develop a snapshot of the recent equipment condition. But if that state is damaged, you may not want to do that, so uncheck that box.

The VirtualBox snapshot Restore prompt.

You will have to simply click the Restore button prior to it will start out.

Picture: Jack Wallen

This will restore your digital equipment to the snapshot you took, which suggests it is really back again to a functioning point out.

And that’s all there is to developing and employing a VirtualBox snapshot. Get in the hang of applying this characteristic, as it can seriously help you save you a lot of head aches. I just take snapshots every single time I am about to do anything main to a visitor OS. That basic process makes sure I generally have a managing point out for a guest running technique.


Supply connection Snapshots are an important tool in any virtual computing environment, and they are available in Sun Microsystems’ VirtualBox. VirtualBox guest snapshots are exact copies of a virtual machine’s state at a given point in time, stored within the virtual machine. Taking a snapshot allows users to capture the state of the guest operating system and any files, including documents, media, or applications, that were open at the time the snapshot was taken.

Snapshots serve a number of important functions:

First, and most importantly, they provide a reliable means of system and data recovery. In many cases, restoring a snapshot is much faster and more reliable than the traditional approach of reinstalling the operating system and all applications.

Second, they can be used to snapshot a virtual machine’s environment at certain points to enable testing processes such as patching, application deployment, or system configuration changes.

Third, they can help maintain a virtual machine’s state across reboots, host machine shutdowns, or other system conditions that otherwise would require the virtual machine to be restored to the previous powered-on state.

To create a snapshot, the user must first open their chosen virtual machine. Then, they should select the Snapshots pane in the VirtualBox Manager. Then, they can click on the “Take” button to take a snapshot and save the current state of the virtual machine to disk.

When creating a snapshot, the user must provide a name and optional description for the snapshot, which allows them to easily identify the snapshot later. Additionally, it is important to note that the state of files that were open when the snapshot was taken is also stored in the snapshot, which can be useful for restoring files and applications.

Once the user has taken a snapshot, it can be used to restore the virtual machine to the saved state. To restore a snapshot, the user can open the Snapshots pane in the VirtualBox Manager, select the desired snapshot, and click “Restore”. After the snapshot has been restored, the virtual machine will be in the exact state as it was when the snapshot was taken.

In summary, VirtualBox guest snapshots are an invaluable tool for maintaining and restoring a virtual environment. Taking a snapshot is simple and straightforward, and restoring from a snapshot is even easier. With VirtualBox snapshots, users can quickly and easily restore a virtual machine to a known good state.