mdelvecchio
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Contributor

Fusion4 - "If you use Time Machine, exclude virtual machines from the backup"

i thought one of the new Lion features of Fusion 4 was better integration w/ Lion's Time Machine? yet here in the Fusion 4 documentation it states:

If you use Time Machine, exclude virtual machines from the backup.


Any change to a virtual machine's virtual hard disk file results in the entire file being backed up. When you have a 40GB virtual machine, having Time Machine back it up every hour can fill a hard disk quickly.

...is there no way to make these two work smartly together?

thanks,

matt

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17 Replies
dlhotka
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No.

The virtual disk file changes continuously while the VM is in use, so you'll backup the entire virutal disk every time TM runs.  In addition, backing up a running VM will result in a corrupt backup.

The safe way to backup a VM is to shut it down (not suspend it), and then copy it to a backup location.

FWIW, Time Machine does work inside an OSX guest.

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mdelvecchio
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then what is this referring to:

Time Machine Compatible Snapshots

Snapshots are also Time Machine compatible so you can keep your Mac and all its virtual machines backed up without filling up your backup drive with unnecessarily files.

[http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/migrate.html#Mac-like]

...how does one use TM w/ the Snapshots?

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dlhotka
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New feature, but I wouldn't trust it.  In any case, that many snapshots ends up slogging down a VM (I only run with them when absolutely needed).

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mdelvecchio
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im not even sure how to make use of the feature, let alone not trusting it.

as for slowing down your VM -- why do you feel this way? it's my understanding the snap-shots are simply state dumps to a stand-alone file on the filesystem...in which case i wouldnt expect it to slow down the application no more than having many .DOCs on your computer slows down Word, etc.. no?

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Shootist
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mdelvecchio wrote:

then what is this referring to:

Time Machine Compatible Snapshots

Snapshots are also Time Machine compatible so you can keep your Mac and all its virtual machines backed up without filling up your backup drive with unnecessarily files.

[http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/migrate.html#Mac-like]

...how does one use TM w/ the Snapshots?

I believe the snapshots are separate files outside the actual VM files. So they can be backed up with TM even if you excluded the actual VM files in TM backup.

RDPetruska
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mdelvecchio wrote:

as for slowing down your VM -- why do you feel this way? it's my understanding the snap-shots are simply state dumps to a stand-alone file on the filesystem...in which case i wouldnt expect it to slow down the application no more than having many .DOCs on your computer slows down Word, etc.. no?

No, when you take a snapshot, the files it creates are separate virtual disk files which become PARENT files to the virtual disk file now in use.  The more snapshots you have, the longer the chain grows.  Hence, the more files must get loaded to have the entire virtual disk available to the virtual machine (and the more potential spots for file errors to occur and potentially corrupt your virtual disk).  That is why all of us long-time users despise the "auto-protect" feature and refer to it as "auto-destruct".

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mdelvecchio
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not to be a doubting thomas, but is there some evidence that this suggested risk is a viable concern? id be surprised if an enterprise-oriented company like VMWare would let a near-certain catastrophic risk like this enter the product stream for millions of users and enterprises. right?

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RDPetruska
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Read the various posts Ulli (forum user continuum) posts on, helping users with crashed virtual machines, many of them due to disk chaining errors.

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dlhotka
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Fusion is a consumer product - different standards.

I'll second the 'auto destruct' - between snapshot dedgregation, disk errors, and users deleting files when they run out of disk space, it's a good idea, but bad in practice  - kind of like Woz on dancing for the stars 🙂

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mdelvecchio
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Contributor

hah..

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WoodyZ
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Shootist wrote: I believe the snapshots are separate files outside the actual VM files. So they can be backed up with TM even if you excluded the actual VM files in TM backup.

The Snapshot .vmdk files are not storred seperate and apart from the Base or Parent .vmdk files and by default with normal file based Virtual Machines under VMware Fusion all files are storred within the Virtual Machine Package.

It's absoutly ironic that your post, which is totally wrong, was awarded points when what dlhotka and RDPetruska said has real merit and value!

IMO...  Regardless of any of the changes made in VMware Fusion 4, I would never use Time Machine to backup Virtual Machines under any circumstances whatsoever!

It is a known fact that Time Machine is not 100% reliable backing up/restoring Virtual Machines under all circumstances/conditions.  Also backing up Virtual Machines via Time Machine is disk/time intensive and wastes a tremendous amount of space for something that may be corrupt and worthless come time to restore it.  At a minimum I would exclude Virtual Machines from Time Machine and with the Virtual Machines shutdown, not suspended, and VMware Fusion closed then manually copy the Virtual Machines Packages to an alternate location, preferably on to a different physical hard disk.  Then keep the User Data that is stored within the Virtual Machine backed up off of the Virtual Machine on a regular basis so as to always have a current User Data backup.  If you have to restore a properly backed up Virtual Machine that is not as current at least you'll have a working Virtual Machine and current User Data to go forward with when you find out your Time Machine backup of the Virtual Machine fails.

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mdelvecchio
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WoodyZ wrote:

Shootist wrote: I believe the snapshots are separate files outside the actual VM files. So they can be backed up with TM even if you excluded the actual VM files in TM backup.

The Snapshot .vmdk files are not storred seperate and apart from the Base or Parent .vmdk files and by default with normal file based Virtual Machines under VMware Fusion all files are storred within the Virtual Machine Package.

It's absoutly ironic that your post, which is totally wrong, was awarded points when what dlhotka and RDPetruska said has real merit and value!

...i gave him points because his post is about my topic -- Fusion's advertised compatibility with Lion's Time Machine. whether his data is accurate or not i cant say, but the other posts you cited are simply about why Snapshots suck -- not my question.

so, as to your post: if the snapshot files are stored within the VM package, then how exactly is this TM-compatible when the documentation says to exclude the VM packages (quoted in my OP)? heres the new marketing material for v4:

Even More Mac-like

VMware Fusion 4 enhances the way you experience Windows applications on a Mac. From the new App Unity feature, to the redesigned user interface, and Time Machine-compatible Snapshots, everything has been refined to give users an even more mac-like experience when running Windows applications on a Mac.


Time Machine Compatible Snapshots

Protect the state of your virtual machines by using Snapshots to capture the state of a virtual machine at any given time or at regular time intervals with the AutoProtect feature. The new Snapshot view offers a tree view of all your snapshots so you can better access them and go back to the Snapshot you want.

...this is my confusion. what, if anything, is now TM-compatible in v4?

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Shootist
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WoodyZ wrote:

Shootist wrote: I believe the snapshots are separate files outside the actual VM files. So they can be backed up with TM even if you excluded the actual VM files in TM backup.

The Snapshot .vmdk files are not storred seperate and apart from the Base or Parent .vmdk files and by default with normal file based Virtual Machines under VMware Fusion all files are storred within the Virtual Machine Package.

It's absoutly ironic that your post, which is totally wrong, was awarded points when what dlhotka and RDPetruska said has real merit and value!

IMO...  Regardless of any of the changes made in VMware Fusion 4, I would never use Time Machine to backup Virtual Machines under any circumstances whatsoever!

It is a known fact that Time Machine is not 100% reliable backing up/restoring Virtual Machines under all circumstances/conditions.  Also backing up Virtual Machines via Time Machine is disk/time intensive and wastes a tremendous amount of space for something that may be corrupt and worthless come time to restore it.  At a minimum I would exclude Virtual Machines from Time Machine and with the Virtual Machines shutdown, not suspended, and VMware Fusion closed then manually copy the Virtual Machines Packages to an alternate location, preferably on to a different physical hard disk.  Then keep the User Data that is stored within the Virtual Machine backed up off of the Virtual Machine on a regular basis so as to always have a current User Data backup.  If you have to restore a properly backed up Virtual Machine that is not as current at least you'll have a working Virtual Machine and current User Data to go forward with when you find out your Time Machine backup of the Virtual Machine fails.

Hey sorry for the miss information. I'm knew at this, and the Mac, but from reading the VMware docs on this they make it sound like snapshots are a good idea.

I now know they aren't. Best is to COPY the package file and or copy and rename it to the same folder the original is in, I think.

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RCampbell12
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Today's Team Fusion Blog states this:

"Time Machine is an automated backup solution built into OS X that is a great way to protect all the data on your Mac. Now with VMware Fusion 4 you can include your Virtual Machine in the Time Machine backup, this ensures that your Virtual Machines are just as protected."

But I was wondering the same thing mentioned in this thread . . . what if we've excluded the VM from Time Machine backups as was previously instructed?  Should we go back and include it?  In their instructions in the "blog" entry (which I'm really getting via email), they did not mention anything about this issue.  Seemed like an oversight to me.

What I also saw no mention of was anything about the host OS version.  They said it was a new feature in Fusion 4 and did not say that you needed Lion, as some people seem to be suggesting in this thread.  I'm still on Snow Leopard.

After reading the post, it would appear that I need to turn off snapshots, which I turned on at their suggestion to get TM doing all my backups (well, all the Mac-side backups and the VM, too).  I have been backing up the VM separately and it seems I'll have to keep doing that.

If snapshots lead to a greater likelihood of VM corruption, then VMWare should be ashamed of itself for pushing this solution on customers.

mdelvecchio
Contributor
Contributor

interesting... and here is that blog post:

http://blogs.vmware.com/teamfusion/2011/12/backing-up-your-virtual-machine-with-time-machine.html

...after reading it, i get the distinct impression that what VMWare is calling "Time Machine" is actually their own historical backup/restore snapshot implementation, and NOT OS X's... which would be incredibly dense of their marketing people to do as it could only spread confusion on this issue.

does anyone else get that impression!?

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RCampbell12
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mdelvecchio wrote:

interesting... and here is that blog post:

http://blogs.vmware.com/teamfusion/2011/12/backing-up-your-virtual-machine-with-time-machine.html

...after reading it, i get the distinct impression that what VMWare is calling "Time Machine" is actually their own historical backup/restore snapshot implementation, and NOT OS X's... which would be incredibly dense of their marketing people to do as it could only spread confusion on this issue.

does anyone else get that impression!?

I did not get that impression.  I got the distinct impression that the snapshots would be included in the official Apple OSX Time Machine backup.  To me, that was very clear.

What was not clear is whether we should stop excluding the VM from the TM backup.  That question has been asked in the comments section of the blog, but no answer is yet forthcoming.  You'd think they'd think to mention that since the official recommendation up until now (and may still be) has been to exclude the VM from TM.  With these new instructions from them, it does leave you wondering if you keep excluding the VM from the TM backup or you should stop excluding it.  I'm thinking we still have to exclude it, but I'd like to be sure about this.  Confirmation from the Fusion team would be helpful.  The blog post just did not provide enough detail.

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dlhotka
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What marketing says, and what actually works are two different things.

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