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Time Travel with SyncVM Snapshots

April 28, 2015

If you’ve ever wanted to pull a Back to the Future and travel through time, now’s your chance. With the release of version 3.2 of TintriOS, the new VMstore SyncVM feature lets you experience time travel via your virtual machines (VMs). SyncVM leverages snapshot capabilities to move back and forth in time. This can be at the VM level or at the vDisk level.


The beauty of SyncVM is that physical data is not moved. Instead, it leverages snapshots. SyncVM allows movement between different points in time—time travel. This is not possible with traditional snapshots. What’s more, SyncVM includes a preventive measure: prior to a data sync, SyncVM will take a SyncVM snapshot, which you can then select from the snapshot dropdown list.

Snapshots over time

The SyncVM feature doesn’t cause any loss of snapshots or performance data within vCenter. Also, no storage or VM reconfiguration takes place. But don’t take my word for it—let’s explore a few use cases where SyncVM will be beneficial.

Development and Test Environments

Data management in a dev or test environment can be a challenge to maintain across a number of VMs. These VMs can span separate environments such as development, QA and production. The diagram below illustrates two types of environments. The one on the left utilizes scripts to maintain the data between each environment, while the environment on the right leverages SyncVM capabilities.

Dev and Test

Scripts require maintenance and time. They may also not be scaleable to move between other environments, not to mention the clutter that comes from having to keep several scripts available or up to date. SyncVM eliminates the need for all these dependencies and guesswork. It provides a dynamic and scalable way of refreshing your data between environments. This can also be useful for other environments such as labs, kiosks, demos and file servers.


Development and troubleshooting of databases really benefit from SyncVM. In the case of applications that require a database, use SyncVM to have either an offline copy or an isolated copy on a different network (VLAN). Another benefit of using SyncVM with databases is updates or patches. Keep in mind since this is all at the VM level, we can use SyncVM on the vDisk level as well. The vDisk recovery feature provides the ability to sync database files and logs to other database servers.

vDisk Recovery

vDisk recovery can sync data at the disk level. You can have up to 20 destination VMs syncing from one source VM. Support for multiple vDisk data sync is available. The vDisk containing the operating system can have dependencies, so be aware of them prior to attempting a refresh. Can you recover just one or a handful of files? The answer is yes! This requires mounting a separate vDisk to your destination VM, recovering all files to that particular vDisk, and copying the ones you actually need to another vDisk. Think of this as a quick alternative file recovery method.

Getting Started with SyncVM — Restore VM

SyncVM has two capabilities: Restore VM and Refresh Virtual Disks. The Restore VM allows the refresh of data from any point in time on any individual VM. This point in time can be from an hour ago, days or weeks. The flexibility SyncVM provides is the ability to move between any point in time.

  1. Select a VM, right click and choose Restore VM. You can leverage an existing VM snapshot or create a new one.
    Virtual Machines
    Note: At least one snapshot (manual or scheduled) must be available on the selected VM.
    Restore Demo
  2. Select a snapshot to restore from.
    Select Snapshot
  3. Click Restore.

In a few clicks you have restored data to a VM with the ability to select any point in time.

Getting Started with SyncVM — Refresh Virtual Disks

The second functionality that SyncVM provides is Refresh Virtual Disk. We can now select up to 20 destination VMs at a time and refresh a particular vDisk from any source VM in your environment.

  1. Select 1-20 VMs, right click and choose Refresh virtual disks.
    Select VMs
  2. Select the VM, Snapshot and vDisk to refresh from dropdown(s). Click Refresh.
  3. Acknowledge completed synchronization.
    Acknowledge completed sync

These are just a few use cases with SyncVM. Disaster Recovery has potential use cases as well—we’ll leave that for another post. If you’re a fan of scripting, Tintri’s REST API or PowerShell is also available. Stay tuned for more use cases and automation goodness around SyncVM.

Adapted from Emad Younis’ original blog post at, with permission.

 Over the last 15 years, he has held a variety of roles in the datacenter, emphasizing virtualization design and implementation. Follow him on Twitter @Emad_Younis.

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