(I know this is a really noob-ish question, but I'm a noob-ish VMWare user.)

I see where there's a function to clone a VM, but that appears to clone its settings (CPUs, memory, disk space). I'm hoping for, essentially, a complete backup including the OS that I can store somewhere for an emergency. Do I need disk imaging software? Or is there a way to just copy an image.

  • What version of VMware? Also, does the VM need to stay up during this time? May 1, 2009 at 23:44
  • 2
    There's actually 2 options for cloning. One is a linked clone, and the other is a stand alone copy. May 2, 2009 at 0:55
  • You'll want the "stand-alone" version, not the linked version. See comments below... May 12, 2009 at 3:44

4 Answers 4


The VMWare images are just files. You can copy the files provided they are not in use (actively running). If you copy the files without using the clone feature, the next time you open the image, it will ask if it's a clone or a copy - just answer "copy". Simple as that.

  • 2
    Agreed. When you created the VM, VMWare should have asked you for a folder to create it in, so all you have to do is copy that folder to wherever your backup location is.
    – Tim Lara
    May 9, 2009 at 19:23
  • Yeah but where.
    – erikbstack
    Apr 4, 2017 at 10:27

You can copy the image if you suspend (or stop) the VM first. At a previous job, I had a nightly backup script that did that for each VM: suspend it if it's running, copy all the files to a staging area, and resume it if the suspended it earlier.


VMware Converter (available at http://www.vmware.com/download/converter/getconverter.html) is a fine tool to copy a VM from one VMware server to another (the same server if origin and destination are the same), or to create a VM from a physical machine.


You can do a "hot clone" (where the VM is powered on) to either local native-storage, a NFS export, SAN, etc. and you will have a full copy of the OS and its settings. I believe the hot clone just creates a temporary snapshot first before the clone happens. You can also perform a "Clone to Template" if you want to keep a specific VM customized for redeployment.

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