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Backing up your Virtual Machine in VMware Fusion 4 Part 2

Last week we covered how to use use Time Machine to back up your Virtual Machines using VMware Fusion 4. This week we thought we would take a closer look at some other options you have to back up your Virtual Machine. 

Back up just the files you need with shared and mirrored folders. 

Shared and Mirrored folders are an great way to backup just the files you need such as, documents, movies, and music using Time Machine. Here we will walk you through the process of how to set up mirrored and shared folders. 

System Prefrences

You can access shared and mirrored folders in the settings menu under “Sharing” 

Shared Folders

Sharing folders allows you to select a folder and have access to any files stored inside that folder in both Mac OS and your Virtual Machine. This is a good way to manually select the files that you would like to have backed up via Time Machine. To choose the folders you would like to share, click the plus button to browse your Mac’s hard drive. Once you’ve selected the folder, you can simply drop the files into the shared folder to share between Mac OS and your Virtual Machine, because these files are stored in Mac OS X they will automatically be backed up via Time Machine.



Mirrored Folders 

Mirrored folders work in a similar way to shared folders. In this case mirrored folders allows you to select an entire folder such as Documents or Downloads and VMware Fusion will automatically mirror the entire folder.  Again, because these files are stored on the Mac, this makes it easy for you to always have a backup of your commonly used files. 

Its important to note that VMware Fusion does not create duplicates of the files in the mirroring process, but simply creates one folder that’s accessible from Mac OS X and your Virtual Machine. 

Sharing copy


Looking back at Time Machine

With last weeks post we had some folks asking for more clarification regarding Time Machine Backup and VMware Fusion 4. 

Its important to note that when you are backing up a Virtual Machine using Time Machine, due to the large nature of the files you will most likely see your backup drive fill up faster than normal. By using Auto protect you can greatly decrease the size of the Virtual Machine files that Time Machine backs up. This will allow you to have a back up of your entire virtual machine, without taking quite as big of a toll on the hard drive that Time Machine backs up to.


9 thoughts on “Backing up your Virtual Machine in VMware Fusion 4 Part 2

  1. Russell

    I had expected more, but probably this was written more by the marketing dept. than the technical people.
    Here are the problems:
    1) Poor wording. Mirroring that doesn’t create duplicates? In this industry, mirroring means duplicates! I have a NAS device that mirrors the files across two drives. One fails, the files are duplicated on the other. Don’t use the term “mirroring” if you don’t mean duplicates.
    2) You did not address concerns that this auto-protect feature actually increases the likelihood of corruption of the virtual disk. In a comment on your first blog entry on this subject I placed a link to a thread in the discussions forum where a few old salts stated this belief. True? Of course, why should I expect an honest discussion here? Marketing is not about honesty.
    3) You did not address the question of whether the VM folders should be excluded from Time Machine, which was your previous recommendation (exclude and back up the VM separately).
    These oversights make this blog entry less than helpful and leads me to my conclusion that it is driven more by the sales people and very little by the tech people.

  2. SuAlfons

    Hello, VMWare
    I want to join with Russel’s questions.
    This post did not clearify the essential question of wether to include the VMWare directory in Time Machine.
    As sharing vs. mirroring. My guess, sharing is just that (like a net drive) and mirroring shows the content of your Mac’s Music, Pictures etc. folders in the corresponding Windows or Linux folders (which may have a different name, but obviously the same content. No, not the same, the identical content, since it’s like a hardlink to your original Mac-data). That’s only what I have understood.
    As a consumer user, I could not care less about saving different states of my VMs. But can we now include the whole stuff in Time Machine or not?
    From the nature of a virtual HD, I conlude: no. It’s a giant, constant changing set of files. True?

  3. Stacy

    These last two articles about Vm’s and time machine need much clarification by “knowledgeable” vmware staff.
    I’m not feeling ANY trust from vmware and continue not to use time machine in any scenario put forth so far.
    Please answer, in detail, the questions by Russel above using someone who knows what they are talking about.
    Answer the cha

  4. Ronnie

    I agree with the posters above. I upgraded to VMWare 4 because I thought that it should be possible to include my VMs in Time Machine without filling up my backup disk. I apparently didn’t investigate enough.

  5. Jason

    Thanks for the explanation of how we can use shared & mirrored folders to keep our Windows files backed up via Time Machine, by letting Fusion keep a copy of the them in a TM-accessible location on our OS X disks. While that won’t work for my specific use case, I appreciate the suggestion and will keep it in mind for the future.
    I’m still interested in learning how Fusion 4 might streamline and automate VM backups. As it is now, I shut down all VMs and copy the bundles to another drive once a week or so. The promise of automating this by allowing Time Machine to do it was a big part of why I paid to upgrade from Fusion 3 to 4.
    Let me just repeat that for emphasis: Time Machine compatibility, as promised in Fusion 4’s marketing materials, is part of what I paid for. In order to use it & trust it, I need to understand it. In order to understand it, I need a LOT more information from VMware than I’ve been getting.
    So with that goal in mind, here are some specific questions you could answer to help us understand the new “Time Machine compatibility” features:
    1. Has the way snapshots are stored changed from previous versions of Fusion? Are Snapshot.vmdk files used differently than before?
    2. Can you point us to some up-to-date detailed information on how snapshots work in Fusion, which covers where/how in VMDK files both snapshotted Windows’ data and the most recent version of the data is stored?
    3. Can you explain exactly what files will be backed up via TM when auto-protect is enabled? The folder containing my VM bundle has never been backed up; suppose I enable auto-protect and then stop excluding the folder – what files in the VM bundle will be backed up the first time TM runs? (All of them, including all VMDK files, right?) What will be backed up each time TM runs thereafter?
    4. If Time Machine runs while my VM is running, what prevents it from “corrupting” my VM backup by copying a file while the VM is changing it? e.g. TM copies the first part of a snapshot VMDK, then the VM changes something in the file as TM copies the last part of it; the net result would be a VMDK that Fusion will reject as invalid if I tried to restore and use it, right? What about Fusion 4 stops that from happening?

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    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my weblog so i came to “return the favor”.I
    am trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!


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