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I have a VM of windows 7 using VMware Fusion. I would like to use it to test software (betas etc) and want to be able to roll back after trialing.

What is better; using VM snapshots, or using the windows system restore? and why?

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VM snapshots are better by a long shot.

  • They're guaranteed to bring your OS back into the state it was in when you took the snapshot (this isn't the case with system restore).
  • Restoring a snapshot is very quick; especially if you take your snapshots with the VM powered off. All it has to do is delete some delta files and you're good to go.
  • Restoring a VM snapshot will get rid of any viruses or malware you picked up. This is definitely not the case with system restore. (Note: It's theoretically possible that viruses exist that target the VM hypervisor directly. But you've got bigger problems then because your host OS will likely be infected as well)
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I would go with VM Snapshots because if something goes wrong with your partition or with the virtual disk file Win7 snapshot may not be able to save you. If you use the Win7 for beta testing greater problems may happen since alpha/beta software may harm your Windows.

I do not know exactly, but VM Snapshot may also be faster to make and restore.

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