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.