Ticket #46 (closed enhancement: fixed)

Opened 11 years ago

Last modified 8 years ago

Feature request: Branching snapshots

Reported by: tfim Owned by:
Priority: major Component: VM control
Version: VirtualBox 2.0.2 Keywords: snapshots
Cc: Guest type: other
Host type: other


It would be great if snapshots could "branch" - that is, a snapshot could spawn more then one child, leading to a tree structure of snapshots. For example, it would be possible to mark a clean installation at some point, and then just create and remove snapshot-branches when trying out applications and such.

I have tried to emulate that behvior by using VBoxManage clonediv to clone a disk image ("branching"), however, snapshot data was not cloned. If the above is too complex to implement soon, it would be good if at least snapshot data could be cloned.

Change History

comment:1 Changed 11 years ago by Technologov

Well, you could do something like this on Guest VM, by using UnionFS - possible under Linux guest.

Anyway, currently it's a Linux feature not a VirtualBox one. Maybe Vbox will have it too...


comment:2 Changed 11 years ago by achimha

This feature is planned. The current snapshot architecture is already prepared for this but some bits are still missing.

comment:3 Changed 11 years ago by cromo

Are there any chances we could see something like this in next release? It'd be a really handy feature, I miss it a lot currently.

comment:4 Changed 10 years ago by esben

I second that. I miss it a lot as well.

comment:5 Changed 10 years ago by frank

  • Component changed from other to VM control

comment:6 Changed 10 years ago by mihi

I miss it as well.

For example, when installing some software with lots of installation options, to find the best configuration. The software should run on the VM afterwards. So I created a snapshot and tried to install it. After the install it worked but I thought I could work around a problem by changing an option in the install process. So I reverted to the snapshot (and I would have kept the latest state if I could). After installing with the other option I noticed that this option worked even worse than the first one. So I had to revert again and reinstall again in the first way.

If I had snapshot trees I would have saved the work of re-installing it the third time (if the second install was better, i'd have deleted the first snapshot, else I'd have reverted to it).

Or, as an alternative, it would suffice for me to "revert" to a snapshot while still keeping the snapshots in between (i. e. creating a new snapshot and modifying it in a way that it looks like a previous snapshot). This might need a bit more disk space, but in situations like that disk space is not my main concern especially since the differences between all my snapshots are marginal.

comment:7 Changed 10 years ago by TerryE

Frank, There has been quite a lot of chatter on the forum looking to this feature. It's a pity that we don't have some form of user voting system on Trac so that you can assess user demand.

comment:8 in reply to: ↑ description Changed 10 years ago by Bluesky


comment:9 Changed 10 years ago by darkprokoba

I've been using VMWare for QA purposes for quite a while now. Recently I've been evaluating VirtualBox and I find it quite impressive. I find it perfect for my home needs. However switching to VirtualBox for my QA work is out of the question due to the lack of arbitrary snapshot branching. I remember the days when VMWare didn't have this feature too (somewhere back in the pre 3.x days iirc) and I used to have a bunch of separate VMs. I'm not going back to that!

comment:10 Changed 10 years ago by naufraghi

If not branching at least a way to clone a snapshot, even flattening it.

comment:11 follow-up: ↓ 12 Changed 10 years ago by frank

For your info: The snapshot system will be completely reworked. But no ETA yet, this will still take some time (probably months).

comment:12 in reply to: ↑ 11 Changed 10 years ago by kendon

+1, i would absolutely love that. imho this is the last important feature missing in virtualbox. actually it is the only feature where i think about switching to vmware.

comment:13 Changed 10 years ago by de_ramon

+10 (for me and my collegues)

For me it's the last important featuere, too. Maybe it's the last important one overall...

comment:14 Changed 10 years ago by rhdieser

I just found VirtualBox today - awesome product! I soon discovered it would be a great value-add to have the tree structure of snapshots that has been talked about. I am also testing applications and it would great to have the following:

  • Base OS installed / Snapshot

Having the ability to boot any snapshot would be a huge time saver that anyone could appreciate. The above feature would allow me to get rid of VMware Server all together.

comment:15 Changed 10 years ago by rhdieser

My last update didn't look right when it was posted.

  • Base OS installed / Snapshot
  • Base OS and Application A Snapshot
  • Base OS and Application B Snapshot

comment:16 Changed 10 years ago by rhdieser

. . any votes to have the priority increased from "Minor"?

comment:17 Changed 10 years ago by sandervl73

  • Priority changed from minor to major
  • Version changed from VirtualBox 1.3.4 to VirtualBox 2.0.2

It's work in progress.

comment:18 Changed 9 years ago by muganga

I see we have had a new bug fix release. I am hoping that the branching snapshots will be in the next drop. Like many others this is a really important one for me.

comment:19 Changed 9 years ago by Juggalo

+1 Happy to hear this is being implemented \o/

This would be an extremely useful addition!

comment:20 Changed 9 years ago by davidfraser

+1 with the hope that commenting will make this bug Cc me on any progress...

comment:21 Changed 9 years ago by scyclops


comment:22 Changed 9 years ago by johntracy

The lack of this capability greatly hinders my use of the product. True, I can use underlying technologies in the OS to compensate--but this is a messy way to do it. It's obvious from the other features that Virtualbox is getting some nice cleanup from a user interface perspective. Please make this one of the higher priorities for increasing the usability of the product.

comment:23 Changed 9 years ago by jondo

+1. Can someone add me to Cc, please?

comment:24 Changed 9 years ago by vstarre

+1, really a necessity. I'm new to virtualization, and for my purposes I don't see the point of any of it if one can't non-destructively examine previous states, or base multiple "branches" on a single snapshot.

If nothing else, showing the snapshot view as a "tree" is a clear bug if it's not actually a tree structure. How was this not a "top priority" before making it to 1.0?

comment:25 Changed 9 years ago by muganga

Could we have an update on this one please.


comment:26 Changed 9 years ago by svaens

+1 for this feature.

Is there any update, as to how this new feature is going? In implementation? Planned for what version? This would make VirtualBox a real competitor, and be shoulder to shoulder with VMware.

comment:27 Changed 9 years ago by eFloh

+3 from me and my collegues, too

As developers we would love to use VirtualBox for testing, where a snapshot tree and the "start an old state --> new differential branch" feature is heavily needed.

comment:28 Changed 9 years ago by pavel


It is very needed feature.

comment:29 Changed 9 years ago by jordanbtucker

+2, my wife and I.

This is the only feature keeping me on VMWare. If VirtualBox supports this, I will switch over immediately.

comment:30 Changed 9 years ago by nicorac

+5 for me and my co-workers

This target could be reached in three steps:

  • "clone last state" feature, with a sort of merge of previous snapshots
  • shirinking shapshots, which seem to be bigger than the changes they hold
  • snapshot branching system

comment:31 Changed 9 years ago by alitokmen

Another +1 :)


I've switched from VMWare Workstation to VirtualBox a few months ago. VirtualBox is an impressive product, be it for performance, seamless mode and many other nice features.

On the other hand, the absence of branching snapshots is a huge hole for me. I hope it will become available soon.


  1. Ali Tokmen

comment:32 Changed 9 years ago by brugy


comment:33 Changed 9 years ago by fixedd

Throw another "me too" on the list.

comment:34 Changed 9 years ago by vbfox

Add another +1 for me, it is really the only feature i miss from VMWare.

comment:35 follow-up: ↓ 36 Changed 9 years ago by rkennke

I found that the requested feature is already there, it's just not obvious how to do it. I've written a small how to:

Still, I think this stuff is quite unintuitive and needs to be improved usability wise, and it should be documented.

comment:36 in reply to: ↑ 35 Changed 9 years ago by vbfox

Replying to rkennke:

I found that the requested feature is already there, it's just not obvious how to do it. I've written a small how to:

Nice tutorial, but even with this it still miss the merging of multiple snapshoots to save space and continuing to work from any snapshoot like VMWare

comment:37 Changed 9 years ago by umoeller

No need for additional votes, we are working on branching snapshots. :-) Much of the back-end code is already there, but the APIs and GUI need work.

comment:38 Changed 9 years ago by Graham.North

Do we have an update? Is there a target release version? Thanks. Graham.

comment:39 Changed 9 years ago by hansjeg

I just started to work with VirtualBox a few days ago as Virtual PC does not support 64-bit guests. I immediately loved the snapshot idea which goes beyond the 'undo' feature of VPC where you basically have only one snapshot. From the GUI I was under the impression that you could branch snapshots, but unfortunately you can't. I ran into this request and noticed that back in february 2007 somebody stated that "this feature is planned". Now, back in July somebody says "no need for additional votes, we are working on branching snapshot". So, I cannot add a vote here, but like the previous poster, I would like to know when we can expect this very nice feature! Thanks, Hans.

comment:40 follow-up: ↓ 41 Changed 9 years ago by umoeller

We're really working on it. :-)

comment:41 in reply to: ↑ 40 Changed 9 years ago by muganga

Replying to umoeller:

We're really working on it. :-)

Any chance of an indicative date then? This one is really important to us.

In particular I hope that the implementation will allow the various files that make up a snapshot to be copied in a simple way so that they can be moved from one machine to another. The current architecture is very hard to deal with, and I think the balance had swung too far in the direction of ensuring consistency of all the parts vs usability.

comment:42 Changed 8 years ago by Technologov

Aha ! It works in VBox 3.1.0-BETA1 !

VBox developers: I recommend closing this wish.

At Last ! Opened almost 3 (!!!) years ago, and now completed ! Excellent Work !


comment:43 Changed 8 years ago by sandervl73

  • Status changed from new to closed
  • Resolution set to fixed
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