Backup your VMware Fusion VMs, even when they are still running

One of the problems with virtual machines (VMs) is taking care of the data and time you invested in them. In other words having good backups. VMware recommends you to exclude virtual machines from Time Machine as you can’t make good backups with it (see [1] and [2]).

Note that you cannot normally backup a machine that is still running, as the copy of the virtual disk would likely end up being corrupted. The reason for this is that the chance is high that the disk changes during your virtual disk file copy. File systems don’t like that.

A suggestion which is made in the linked VMware articles is to move your data out of the VM and save it at your host while accessing it via shared folders. This by itself breaks the encapsulation of the VM – have everything in one package, on top of that, shared folders aren’t very performant. So that is not very ideal.

Of course you can make a manual copy of the VM when it has been shut down, but that means having to set aside time to do so and make sure to not forget doing that on a regular time.

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could make easy backups of your VMs in an automatic way and not having to worry if you left them running or not?

The above got me thinking and working on a product called “Vimalin”.

With Vimalin you can schedule backups of your virtual machines and it will use VMware Fusion automation to detect if the virtual machine is running or not. If the VM is running when the backup is scheduled then Vimalin knows about that and uses VMware Fusion snapshot technology to be able to make a consistent virtual disk copy. In that case it also copies the machine state and memory contents from your VM.

As a result when restoring the VM, you end up with a restored machine that looks exactly like it was suspended at the time of the backup. It does this all by using VMware Fusion automation and does not need you to install an agent in the VM.

You can read more about how to use Vimalin (including screen shots) in the online documentation

or you can download the latest version from the main page  (or the current version via this here) and test drive it for yourself.

There is a 60 day trial period after which it changes into the free version which still allows you to make backups or restore them, but it disables the scheduling and email notifications feature.

Free Vimalin 2.0 license for vExperts

Congratulations with your 2018 VMware vExpert award!

We do appreciate your efforts and contributions to the VMware community and therefor like to give you a free NFR license to Vimalin 2.0.

As you probably know,  making backups of your VMware Fusion virtual machines with Time Machine is not recommended by VMware (see also: at VMware’s Knowledge base best practices for virtual machine backup )

With Vimalin you can run the backups of your Fusion VMs automatically and stop having to worry that you forgot to make that manual copy. More details can be found at the main site.

Please fill in your details below

Please use the same email address as for your vExpert communications.

and after verification of your details we will try to send a free license to your email ASAP.

Import backup targets

With our latest release (version 1.0.298 see download page) one of the main new features is the ability to import backups.

Normally Vimalin keeps track of all your backups in a database and based on the data in there it will show you an overview of all the backups you currently have. Those backups can be on different disks and/or network locations.

That works great. But what now if you happen to do a fresh install of macOS and you don’t have that old database available? Then Vimalin would not be able to locate those previously made backups. Until now.

Another scenario is if you have multiple machines that you backup via Vimalin. Normally you only see your own backups. Vimalin stores the backups per host, and the database is stored locally so normally you do not see backups from other hosts.

If you want to put back a backup from another host then there was no easy way to do that. This new feature also makes this much easier.

So how does it work?

If you add a backup Disk Target then Vimalin will now verify if it has been used by Vimalin before and if it has it displays the following popup:

If you select “Yes” then it will scan the contents of the Disk target and report back what if found.

You can then verify what backup have been found in the backup archive screen:

As you can see in our example it found 2 backups of 2 VMs. The first one is a backup that was made onDemand earlier today while the other one is a backup of Win98 made yesterday.

Note that it will only add backups not already in your database and that it will verify if all the files that make up the database are available. You can even remove the target and add it back to sync with the disk target.