Installing a guest operating system and applications can be time consuming. With clones, you can make many copies of a virtual machine from a single installation and configuration process. Cloning a virtual machine is faster and easier than copying it.

Clones are useful when you must deploy many identical virtual machines to a group. For example, an MIS department can clone a virtual machine that has a suite of preconfigured office applications for each employee. You can also configure a virtual machine that has a complete development environment and then clone it repeatedly as a baseline configuration for software testing.

The existing virtual machine is called the parent virtual machine. When the cloning operation is complete, the clone becomes a separate virtual machine.

Changes made to a clone do not affect the parent virtual machine, and changes made to the parent virtual machine do not appear in a clone. The MAC address and UUID for a clone are different from the parent virtual machine.

A linked clone is a copy of a virtual machine that shares virtual disks with the parent virtual machine in an ongoing manner.

A full clone is a complete and independent copy of a virtual machine. It 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.

To prevent the parent virtual machine for a linked clone from being deleted, you can designate the parent as a template. When template mode is enabled, the virtual machine, and snapshots of the virtual machine, cannot be deleted.

The Clone Virtual Machine wizard guides you through the process of cloning a virtual machine. You do not need to locate and manually copy the parent virtual machine files.