How to Clone a Virtual Machine on VMware Fusion in Mac/macOS

In this article, we will examine how to create a clone to quickly copy or replicate your virtual machines created with VMware Fusion 12 Pro on your Apple Mac computers.

How to Clone a Virtual Machine on VMware Fusion in Mac/macOS

How to Copy or Duplicate a Virtual Machine using Clone on VMware Fusion 12 Pro on Mac

Another great feature of VMware Fusion virtualization software that allows you to create virtual machines and install guest operating systems in the macOS operating system is Clone.

Thanks to Clone, which is the easiest method to copy the guest operating systems you run on your Mac, you can easily replicate your existing virtual systems and include them in your existing projects without the need to create new virtual machines.

To clone a ready virtual machine, first of all, your guest system must be powered off and not suspended. Fusion software will warn you when you try to clone the virtual machine while it is running.

There are two types of methods for duplicating a VM in Fusion software, Full Clone, and Linked Clone.

  1. Full Clone: It is the structure that works completely independently of the cloned virtual machine and does not share anything with the main virtual machine. The disk space of a VM copied with a full clone is the same as the master virtual machine. In this case, the disk space of your host computer will decrease as much as the disk space of the host virtual machine.
  2. Linked Clone: This structure, which is used to rapidly replicate virtual machines, does not take up the disk space of the host computer, but is dependent on the main virtual machine and constantly shares resources. A VM replicated using a linked clone is created from a snapshot of the master VM. Therefore, information containing only virtual machine data is created on the host disk.

When Clone types are compared in terms of system performance, the system performance is less than the Full Clone structure, since the Linked Clone structure provides guaranteed disk space protection. Therefore, the system performance of a virtual computer replicated with Full Clone will be higher.

Creating a Full Clone

When you want to replicate an existing Windows 10 or Ubuntu guest operating system, you should create a Full Clone if you want each system to work independently of each other.

   Step 1

When you try to create a Clone while your Windows 10 guest machine is running, you will see a warning that you cannot perform the operation while the virtual machine is on or suspended, as in the image below.

In this case, click OK to close the warning window and then shut down your guest operating system.

Clone Error

   Step 2

After turning off your guest machine, click Virtual Machine / Create Full Clone in the tool menu.

Create Full Clone

   Step 3

In the window asking where you want to save the clone of the virtual machine, select your location and click the Save button.

Choosing the Clone Location

   Step 4

Wait while a copy of your Windows 10 host virtual machine is being created at the location you specified. This process may take some time depending on the hardware performance of your host computer, so do not end the process and wait.

Cloning Virtual Machine

   Step 5

After creating a new clone for your Windows 10 virtual computer, open the Library of the virtualization program and click on Show Finder to open the location of your VMs.

When you examine the file sizes of your main virtual machine and your cloned machine in the location where your virtual machines are installed, you can see the space occupied on the disk of your host computer.

Comparing VM File Sizes on Disk

   Step 6

You can check that there is no problem when you run your Windows 10 virtual computer that you copied with the clone.

Smooth Operation of Full Cloned Guest System

Deleting a Full Clone

After creating a clone on Fusion on macOS, if you want to free up space on your host computer’s disk and you don’t need it, you may need to delete it. Because the space occupied by a VM copied with Clone is as much as the disk size of the host machine, it takes up a lot of space on your host disk.

Open the virtual machine library and right-click on the clone you created, click Delete, and finally click the Move to Trash button to clear the files in the warning window that opens.

Deleting a Full Clone

Creating a Linked Clone

One of the biggest benefits of creating a linked clone is that it does not take up as much space on the host disk as the size of the main virtual machine. Therefore, you can use this method to quickly replicate virtual machines.

   Step 1

Likewise, while your guest operating system is turned off, click Virtual Machine / Create Linked Clone from the tool menu.

Create Linked Clone

   Step 2

For Linked Clone, specify the location where the guest machine’s files will be saved, and click the Save button.

Choosing the Backup Location

   Step 3

Go to the location where your VMs are installed and when you check the file sizes, you can see that the guest machine that you copied with the Linked Clone takes up very little space on the host disk.

Viewing the File Size of a Linked Clone on Disk

   Step 4

You can check if there are any problems when you run your Windows 10 guest machine that you created with Linked Clone.

Smooth Operation of Linked Cloned Virtual System

Deleting a Linked Clone

Since the linked clone is created from a snapshot of the parent virtual machine, simply deleting it from the library is not enough. So you also need to delete the snapshot of the host.

But the point you need to pay attention to here is that if you delete the snapshot of the host, the guest machine you created with Linked Clone will not work.

   Step 1

Likewise, open the Fusion virtual machine library and right-click on the VM you created, and click Delete. When the Remove Virtual Machine warning window opens, you will no longer need the guest machine’s files, so click the Delete Permanently button.

Deleting a Linked Clone

   Step 2

View your Windows 10 host virtual machine and open Snapshot Manager.

Opening Snapshot Manager

   Step 3

Select the snapshot named Linked Clone of Windows 10 and right-click on it, then click Delete Snapshot. Click Delete again to confirm the deletion in the warning window that opens.

Deleting a Snapshot of a Linked Clone


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