Clones can be full or linked depending on the amount of data copied from the source to the destination machine.

A full clone is an independent copy of a virtual machine that shares nothing with the parent virtual machine after the cloning operation. Ongoing operation of a full clone is separate from the parent virtual machine.

Because a full clone does not share virtual disks with the parent virtual machine, full clones generally perform better than linked clones. Full clones take longer to create than linked clones. Creating a full clone can take several hours or even days if the files involved are large.

You can create a full clone by using any disk clone type other than the linked clone type.

A linked clone is a copy of a virtual machine that shares virtual disks with the parent virtual machine in an ongoing manner. A linked clone is a fast way to convert and run a new virtual machine. You can create a linked clone from the current state, or snapshot, of a powered off virtual machine. This practice conserves disk space and lets multiple virtual machines use the same software installation.

All files available on the source machine at the moment of the snapshot continue to remain available to the linked clone. Ongoing changes to the virtual disk of the parent do not affect the linked clone, and changes to the disk of the linked clone do not affect the source machine.

A linked clone must have access to the source. Without access to the source, you cannot use a linked clone.

For more information about how to create a linked clone, see Create a Linked Clone.