vSphere Data Protection error – operation failed due to existing snapshot

After I have helped one of my customers deploy VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced to replace their old VMware Data Recovery, and helped them schedule their environment for backup, we came back the next day to find out that few VMs have failed with the following error: “VDP: operation failed due to existing snapshot”.

vSphere Data Protection Error

vSphere Data Protection Error


As most of our VMs backed up successfully we were pretty sure it is not the VDP software, and that the problem is related to these specific VMs. It end up just like the error is indicating these VMs have Snapshots that have not properly been removed and needed to be cleaned up before VDP can backup these VMs. Below is the action we have taken to fix this problem:

  1. Check the Snapshot Manager for VMs that failed to backup.
  2. If Snapshot Manager showing any snapshots delete them, then proceed to step 4.
  3. If Snapshot Manager not showing any snapshots, just proceed to step 4.
  4. After deleting all snapshots showing in snap manager, create a new snapshot.
  5. Hit Delete All in Snapshot Manager after the new snapshot have been completed.

The above procedure in most cases should clean up your VM from none consistent dirty snapshots, and you should be able to backup these VMs after that using VMware VDP. If you still have a problem you might have to take a more dramatic measures as below:

  1.  Check the VM folder in your datastore and check if there is snapshot files in there
  2. Check your log files and your vmx file to see if these snapshot files are in use
  3. Check the last modified date on these snapshot files, if they have not been modified for a while then it means it might not be in use any more.
  4. After finding out which snapshot files are not being used, create a folder and move these files to it. I would recommend you try this while your VM is up and running as that will prevent you from moving snapshots files if they are in use.
  5. Recycle your VM after moving these snapshot files to a different folder, and see if it work as expected.
  6. Try to run your backup again.

I hope this help, & good luck with the new powerful VMware vSphere Data Protection 5.5.5.


  1. Similar problem “operation failed due to existing snapshot”, although snapshot manager did not display snapshot any snapshot. Chose Consolidate in snapshot and executed backup job resolved the issue.
    VDP 6.

  2. I had the same Problem, nothing worked for me.
    After i did a storage vMotion of the affected guest – backup with VDP works


  1. […] VMware Data Protection – Operation failed due to snapshot This is an interesting problem, and an interesting solution.  I may have seen this issue quite some time ago with one of the early builds of VDP and while it is too bad the problem can still occur, it is pretty good the workaround still works.  Check out the full story here. […]

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