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Linked-Clone Virtual Machine Without VMware Horizon View

You may know, we have two types of VM, Full-Clone and Linked-Clone.

Now, you have two questions, what are Full-Clone and Linked-Clone?


The Full Clone — A full clone is an independent copy of a virtual machine that shares nothing with the parent virtual machine after the cloning operation. Ongoing operation of a full clone is entirely separate from the parent virtual machine.


The Linked Clone — A linked clone is a copy of a virtual machine that shares virtual disks with the parent virtual machine in an ongoing manner. This conserves disk space, and allows multiple virtual machines to use the same software installation.

You can find more information on “VMware Documentation Center”.

VMware offers VMware Horizon View Composer for creating and delivering linked-clone machines to your user but is it possible without View Composer?

Answer is yes. You can create linked-clone VM without using VMware Horizon View on VMware ESXi or VMware Workstation.

You can create a linked-clone VM on VMware Workstation easily by its GUI, you should follow the below steps:

Step 1: Create new virtual machine, install OS, install VMware Tools and other applications.

Step 2: Power off VM and create a snapshot from last state of the VM:

Main Menu > VM > Snapshot > Take Snapshot…

It takes some seconds.

Step 3: Mark the parent VM as template:

Main Menu > VM > Settings > Options > Advanced > Check ” Enable Template Mode (To Be Used For Cloning)”

Now, the machine is protected from deletion.

Step 4: Clone a Linked-Clone VM for the snapshot:

Main Menu > VM > Snapshot > Clone

Then choose “An Existing Snapshot (Power Off Only)” in “Clone Source” dialog and then select your snapshot form the list.

Then click on “Next” and choose “Create A Linked Clone” in “Clone Type” dialog.

Click “Next” and define your new VM’s name and its path for storing virtual machine files.


You have new Linked-Clone VM but please consider, you don’t move parent virtual machine to another path because Linked-Clone machines are linked to that and the parent’s disks should accessible for Linked-Clone VMs.

Now, you can create Linked-Clone VMs on ESXi or vCenter by run script on ESXi or PowerCLI.

You need to create snapshot on ESXi for Linked-Clone same as VMware Workstation but cloning Linked-Clone machine is different.

You can use the below script and PowerCLI cmdlets for cloning Linked-Clone machines:

  1. ESXi Script
  2. PowerCLI New-VM:
$mySourceVM = Get-VM -Name MySourceVM1
$myReferenceSnapshot = Get-Snapshot -VM $mySourceVM -Name "InitialState"
$vmhost = Get-VMHost -Name MyVMHost1 
$myDatastore = Get-Datastore -Name MyDatastore1
New-VM -Name MyLinkedCloneVM1 -VM $mySourceVM -LinkedClone -ReferenceSnapshot $myReferenceSnapshot -ResourcePool $vmhost -Datastore $myDatastore

Don’t forget to run “Sysprep” on Windows parent machine and shutdown it or run it on Linked-Clone machines after cloning.

I hope, the above instruction help you to create more VMs for test on your lab.

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