1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply on Jul 22, 2009 12:19 PM by HollenEstelrim

    Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?

    dogmaster Novice

       

      I'd like to use Leopard's Time Machine capability to backup my MacBookPro running VMware Fusion 1.1.3 and XPsp2.

       

       

      Backing up once a day or once a week with Time Machine is not a major problem, but the new (approx. 4GB) XPsp2 vm image files at each backup can quickly add up.

       

       

      I've heard some users of both VMware Fusion and Parallels have effectively used the following strategy:

       

       

      1) Create a stable/pristine vitual machine image (in this case XPsp2) with all desired updates, patches, accounts, configurations, etc. 

       

       

      2) Backup #1 above up twice - first with Windows' own backup tool (or other tool, e.g. ghost, retrospect, etc.) this backup should be stored on external media.

       

       

      3) Backup #1 again, this time using Time Machine to capture a the multi-GB Virtual Machine image BEFORE applications are installed.

       

       

      4) Install desired XP apps so that they read-write to a shared directory wherever possible.

       

       

      5) Repeat Steps #2 and #3 to capture the multi-GB Virtual Machine image AFTER applications have been installed.

       

       

      6) Set Time Machine to exclude the large pristine image

       

       

      7) Use Time Machine for subsequent backups.  This presumably avoids backing up the VM image, but still captures the much smaller, ongoing XP-related application changes in the shared directory.

       

       

      This seems possible, but rather complicated.

       

       

      Are there any glaring defects/risks with the above strategy? 

       

       

      Has anyone created/found any simpler hacks to let Leopard users use Time Machine to back up their Fusion environments without incurring over-the-top bloat in both backup times and storage?

       

       

       

       

       

        • 1. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
          rcardona2k Champion

          I read your longish message on my iPhone so pardon if I missed something.  One thing you should be aware of is Fusion deliberately excludes large VM files to prevent conflicts with Time Machine, if you remove the exclusion attributes, Fusion may re-apply them, defeating your task or at least making it even more difficult.

           

          Backing your data with Time Machine, IMO requires two overlapping strategies, not unlike what you're proposing.  One is let Time Machine do its thing minus the large files that are excluded and at your desired interval, e.g. weekly, perform a complete backup of the Documents > Virtual Machines folder.  Incremental backups like Retrospect are somewhat defeated because they backup all the gigabytes of a VM file.  AFAIK, there are no so-called "data de-duplication" utilities capable of doing sub-file binary differential backups across multiple large files.  This means the best thing to do is full backups for your large files as often as you can afford the time.

          • 2. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
            dogmaster Novice

            Thanks again for your thoughts!

             

            Didn't realize Fusion deliberately excludes VM files to prevent Time

            Machine conflicts.   Does it do this by automatically instructing Time

            Machine to exclude the multi-gigabyte VM files in the Docs>VM folder

            during normal Time Machine operations?

             

            I like your strategy of doing Time Machine normally for all things MAC,

            but then doing a separate weekly (or whatever interval is acceptable)

            backup via Time Machine of the Docs>VM folder to catch ALL the

            windows-related stuff in one fell swoop, rather than trying to backup a

            Windows Baseline and subsequent incremental changes with different programs.

             

             

            ,

             

            A new message was posted in the thread "Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?":

             

            http://communities.vmware.com/message/826405

             

            Author  : rcardona2k

            Profile : http://communities.vmware.com/people/rcardona2k

             

            Message:

             

            • 3. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
              rcardona2k Champion

              I did verify that upon VM opening, VMware Fusion re-adds the TIme Machine exclusion attributes to VMDK(s), vmem backing store, and other snapshot files.  This means if you want to back these up via Time Machine ever, you will need to strip the exclusion attribute with the VM off or suspended.  To remove the attribute I used xattr -d com.apple.metadata:com_apple_backup_excludeItem *

               

              If you want to keep Time Machine totally separate from your virtual machines as described above, you can exclude the whole Virtual Machines folder in System Preferences > Time Machine and use an alternate backup method for that folder.

              • 4. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                dogmaster Novice

                Hmm......sounds like Fusion is doing  half the work for us by

                default....by omitting from Time Machine backups just about everything

                related to VMware Fusion's virtual machines.  Yes?

                 

                If so, then perhaps all that's needed is a script using the xattr

                command you mentioned (or a series of them) to remove the exclusion

                attributes when both the VM and TIME MACHINE are off/suspended.

                 

                Then re-enable time machine so that it picks up all the VMware images

                (once - or as often as you want them).

                 

                According to your info, there's no need for a second script to

                re-instate the exclusions as Fusion will re-add them automatically at

                the next start-up.

                 

                Do you know if there's ' definitive list of ALL the files, folders,

                attributes that Fusion re-adds?

                 

                IF so, that list could be used to create the script mentioned above to

                remove the exclusions.

                ,

                 

                A new message was posted in the thread "Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?":

                 

                http://communities.vmware.com/message/826453

                 

                Author  : rcardona2k

                Profile : http://communities.vmware.com/people/rcardona2k

                 

                Message:

                 

                • 5. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                  rcardona2k Champion
                  dogmaster wrote:

                  Hmm......sounds like Fusion is doing half the work for us by default....by omitting from Time Machine backups just about everything related to VMware Fusion's virtual machines.  Yes?

                   

                  By byte count, what you said is absolutely true, except the disturbing part about how Fusion allows Time Machine to work is that Time Machine saves the Fusion app, VM Library State and even the VM configuration files deceivingly implying things are "OK". Then on a restore, when you go to start a VM, oops! no virtual disk (VMDK) or snapshots!  IMO, this bad, very bad.  VMware should exclude all or none of the VM!

                   

                  If so, then perhaps all that's needed is a script using the xattr command you mentioned (or a series of them) to remove the exclusion attributes when both the VM and TIME MACHINE are off/suspended. Then re-enable time machine so that it picks up all the VMware images (once - or as often as you want them).

                   

                  The script it easy enough, it's a one line find statement relative to ~/Documents/Virtual Machines.  I don't think turning off Time Machine is necessary unless it's already in the middle of a backup and you want it to start over.

                   

                  According to your info, there's no need for a second script to re-instate the exclusions as Fusion will re-add them automatically at the next start-up.

                   

                  Correct.

                   

                  Do you know if there's ' definitive list of ALL the files, folders, attributes that Fusion re-adds? IF so, that list could be used to create the script mentioned above to remove the exclusions.

                   

                  To my knowledge the definite list is not known except what you can find empirically by using all of Fusion's options that generate files and running xattr against them.  So far, the files excluded are files with the potential to get "large."

                  • 6. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                    tedmac Lurker

                    I'm a recent Mac convert and only use Fusion to keep my Quicken capabilities.  I've got 14 years history and I'm waiting for Intuit to release a new version of Quicken for the Mac that won't dumb-down the data.  I have been backing up my Quicken files to a CD but just successfully tried to back them up to the VMWare shared folder and they were successfully written to my documents folder on my Mac.  At this point, my Time Machine will backup my Quicken backup files.  This obviously is not feasible for those of you that are full blown users of XP on the Mac, but I thought I'd share it for the other, more casual users.

                     

                    The backup command for me was:

                     


                    .host\Shared Folders\myname On My Mac\Documents\QuickenBackup

                         where "myname" is your Fusion name

                     

                    I hope this helps

                    • 7. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                      glenbust Enthusiast

                      I back up my imac with Time Machine and my XP and Ultimate VM's on another external HD through Norton 360 the latter backs up automatically as with Time Machine and only backs up changes made since the previous back up. Keeps it simple no messing around.

                      • 8. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                        funkmyer Novice

                        Does anyone know if Time Machine will back up only the changed pieces when you install the VM using the new "2GB" chunks method?

                         

                        Creating new VMs now allow you to allow space in 2GB chunks instead of one large VM image ..... will this allow time machine to back up more efficiently?

                        • 10. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                          WoodyZ Guru
                          funkmyer wrote:

                          Does anyone know if Time Machine will back up only the changed pieces when you install the VM using the new "2GB" chunks method?

                           

                          Creating new VMs now allow you to allow space in 2GB chunks instead of one large VM image ..... will this allow time machine to back up more efficiently?

                           

                          The only valid backup of a Virtual Machine Package is to backup the entire Package while the Virtual Machine is shutdown and Fusion closed and to do it any other way can and will have negative consequences.

                           

                          BTW Fusion 1.x can create 2GB segments and the only difference between 1.x and 2.0 in this respect it in 2.0 2 GB segments is the default where in 1.x monolithic was the default.

                          • 11. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                            dcnicholls Novice

                            In Leopard 10.5.5, there are no exclusions listed in the Time Machine prefs to stop TM from backing up the virtual machines.  I've added the main vm folder (/Users/<username>/Documents/Virtual Machines/) to exclusions, but where do snapshots get saved?  I can't see them and I'd prefer to stop TM from backing them up.

                             

                            DN

                            • 12. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                              dcnicholls Novice

                              OK, I found the snaphots, inside the .vmwarevm package at /Users/<username>/Documents/Virtual Machines.localized/Ubuntu.vmwarevm

                              • 13. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                                Jay Levitt Enthusiast

                                For folks who aren't wedded to Time Machine itself, I've found CrashPlan ($25/seat) to do a pretty good job of cross-platform, Time-Machine-like, peer-to-peer backup between Mac, Windows, and Linux servers - with the added advantage of off-site backups (for a fee, from them, or for free, from your friends - who don't have to buy CrashPlan either).

                                 

                                Like Time Machine, it appears to use the FSEvents system to back up only the changed files.  (On Linux, it uses inotify, but that has some bugs; on Windows, I think it may use Shadow Volume Copy or something like that.)  I have the VMWare volumes excluded on the Mac, and then I have them back themselves up directly from the guest OS to my server.  This has the advantage of file-level granularity on your Windows files, just like your Mac files.  It stores only the portions of the files that have changed, in an xdelta-like format, so it's highly compressed and deduplicated (kinda like git).  I sprang for the Pro version, which at $60 can keep any number of previous versions for any number of days, so you've really got point-in-time restore as far back as you want it.  Best: It regularly checks the integrity of the backups.  Anyone who's tried to do tape backups has discovered the joy of a corrupted backup file.

                                 

                                Downsides: It's a CPU hog, even on the 64-bit Java 6 VM.  You can set it to limit its own CPU when you're at the keyboard, but obviously, that slows down your backups, and it doesn't seem entirely accurate; on an 8-core Mac Pro, I've seen it use up 100% of a core even when it was theoretically limited to less than that.  There's an upgrade coming in the next few weeks that's supposed to offer 400% faster backups with 30% CPU, so that may get better.

                                 

                                Also, the UI for restoring is a bit clunky, and forces you to go date-first, rather than tree-first; if you know you need an older version of a file, but don't know what the last "known good" version was, you're in for a lot of mousing.  It has had a number of bugs (fewer lately) that cause it to lose track of which files have actually changed. This doesn't cause any problems, since your backup peer will store only the changed bytes (=0 bytes), but it does make the CPU problems worse, and waste a lot of disk and network bandwidth. 

                                 

                                There are free automatic updates every few months, but they're forced and unannounced, which gives me the willies a bit.  (I don't know if the enterprise version has more control over that.  BTW, the enterprise version is named "Pro Server", not to be confused with the home "Pro" version I bought, which of course has a server component as well..)  Also, although your backups are encrypted, the logs (which are apparently either sent to, or retrievable by, their support team) have your filename and pathnames in them, which is a pretty big privacy leak that I've alerted them to. 

                                 

                                That said, having once done a complete tour of EVERY Windows backup solution, from free to $10K, and finding them all pathetically lacking and buggy, and nonetheless having bought my own DDS-4 drive and, later, VXA-2 10-tape carousel, and nonetheless still having had to send drives off to OnTrack three or four times... CrashPlan is the best damn backup I've seen, and the only one that's been hands-free enough to use and rely on, and for under $100 it's crazy.

                                • 14. Re: Time Machine Backup Strategies for Fusion?
                                  gbullman Expert

                                   

                                  I too use Quicken on Windows, but just about everything else for personal purposes is on the Mac.  I read somewhere a year or so ago that Quicken for Windows and Quicken for Mac are really two completely different programs that they have only taken as far as allowing them to import each other's exports.  My understanding is that Quicken for Mac will never catch up with Quicken for Windows unless Intuit decides to change course.

                                   

                                   

                                  FYI, I do the same thing in that I copy my data files to a shared folder on the Mac everytime I use Quicken.  With the right short cut & right sort order in Windows Explorer that is a couple of second drag and drop.

                                   

                                   

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