1) You can do as John described, if the OS is 2008, you can perform a server backup while the server is running, and do a complete bare metal restore on a new VM, depends on your needs, or use 3rd party imaging utilities.
Personally i would go with Johns, way of exporting the VM.
Regarding #2, snapshots are handy, but do note that they will start making differential disks, which keep on growing, instead of the primary vhd you specified on the creation of the VM.
When you delete snapshots, and the UI indicate they are gone, they are infact still being used in the background until you perform a complete shutdown of the VM itself, at which point the merge will happen.
This has bitten me in the butt several times, since you need the double free space that you current VM uses (Like VM is 100GB, you need a total of 100GB free to merge).
If it runs out of space it pauses the VM, while in the merge process.
Just be aware of how it works, they can be nice for quick snapshots while testing stuff, but do remember to delete them (and shutdown the VM to get them merged back into the main VHD file) after they served their purpose.