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Vimalin - Virtual Machine Backup for VMware Fusion

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#1 2019-08-04 16:10:22

dennis9999
Member
Registered: 2019-08-04
Posts: 7

how long to do a backup?

New user, running workstation pro version 10 on win10 home.
About how long can I expect a backup of a 300gig guest to run?
Backup will be going to an external 4T usb drive.

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#2 2019-08-04 16:27:56

wila
Administrator
Registered: 2016-10-14
Posts: 64

Re: how long to do a backup?

Hello Dennis,

There's two time consuming steps in each backup.
The copy and then followed up by an md5 sum on the copied files to be able guarantee the integrity of the copied files.
So the copying depends on how fast your system is able to read/write to the backup target.
An external 4TB usb disk in your case.

The best way to find out is by running the backup.
Note that you do not have to keep the program open to run the backup, it runs in the background via a worker process.
It is also possible to run backups on a timed schedule. Although the latter is a paid option after the trial runs out.
You can however still make manual backups or restore backups even when the trial period is over.

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#3 2019-08-04 16:41:49

dennis9999
Member
Registered: 2019-08-04
Posts: 7

Re: how long to do a backup?

Thank you Wil for your fast response. Your product sounds like what I have been looking for.

Let me know if any of the following assumptions are incorrect:

I can continue to use both host machine and the quest being backed up while the backup is running.

The temporary snapshot file created during the backup will be on the host machine, will be deleted after the backup finishes and will be the same size as the guest being backed up.

To use any of the backups I simply point workstation pro to the backed up file and select "open a virtual machine". It will have the same settings as the original VM (memory, network settings, cpu allocation etc) and if desired I can continue to use this backup going forward and can even delete the original VM.

This process can then be repeated as needed.

I suppose I could even start the original VM to get access to older versions of data if necessary.

Thanks for your help.

Dennis

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#4 2019-08-04 17:16:42

wila
Administrator
Registered: 2016-10-14
Posts: 64

Re: how long to do a backup?

Hi Dennis,

Let me address your questions one by one.

I can continue to use both host machine and the quest being backed up while the backup is running.

Correct

The temporary snapshot file created during the backup will be on the host machine, will be deleted after the backup finishes and will be the same size as the guest being backed up.

When the backups starts _and_ your VM is running, it will make a temporary snapshot before copying the data to your USB disk. When the backup is done, it will commit the temporary snapshot on your host. Your VM will not have changed in size.
The backup on your USB disk has the size of your VM plus the size of the RAM and state contents of the VM. It is stored at the USB disk similar to being suspended.
The difference with copying a suspended VM is that Vimalin runs a lot of checks on your behalf.

To use any of the backups I simply point workstation pro to the backed up file and select "open a virtual machine". It will have the same settings as the original VM (memory, network settings, cpu allocation etc) and if desired I can continue to use this backup going forward and can even delete the original VM.

No, it's almost like that and in case of need you could do so, but there's a few differences.  Let me explain.
The .vmx filename in your VM is being renamed to a .vml filename in order to prevent this scenario.
The reason for the rename is that you should not run directly from a backup. The moment you do that, the backup is no longer a backup.
For starters, running it changes bytes on the virtual disk. So it will no longer match with the md5 sums, but it is also not good backup hygiene to mix backups and live VMs.
What changed? which one was the untouched backup? Things tend to get blurry over time.
Besides that Vimalin does help you with with VM names in order to prevent name clashes and it also does a bit of work with the suspend files in order to work flawlessly.
You will also loose the suspend state if you do that.
So while in theory you can do that, in practice I recommend to use the restore feature from Vimalin to put back the VM on your local disk.
Then use the file open from VMware Workstation to open the restored VM.

This process can then be repeated as needed.

Sure

I suppose I could even start the original VM to get access to older versions of data if necessary.

Yes, you can have as many backups as you want. You are only limited by your backup storage size.

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#5 2019-08-04 17:34:23

dennis9999
Member
Registered: 2019-08-04
Posts: 7

Re: how long to do a backup?

Excellent reply Wil, thank you.

If I do need to restore a backup and the guest is still running do I suspend the quest and do the restore or power it down completely?
If it was running when the backup was done, after the restore will it still be in running state, suspended or powered down state?

I apologize if these questions are answered somewhere in the documentation, if so can you point me to that document?

I have been in the software support (main frame systems) for a long time and restores are almost never needed on a planned basis and you better know what you are doing when the panic time comes. I am asking all this in advance because we have all learned the hard way expert support is usually not immediately available when disaster strikes.

Dennis

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#6 2019-08-04 18:14:50

wila
Administrator
Registered: 2016-10-14
Posts: 64

Re: how long to do a backup?

Dennis,

No problem asking questions.
There is indeed documentation that hopefully answers these questions too ( https://www.vimalin.com/documentation/w … ne-backup/ ) but I see no harm in just answering the questions asked instead of sending you off to the doc.

If I do need to restore a backup and the guest is still running do I suspend the quest and do the restore or power it down completely?

You normally don't overwrite the original. There's no need with VMs. Of course you can back to the original names, but it requires a bit of extra work on your side.
The folder name it creates on restore has a " - backup <date>" suffix in order to prevent overwriting originals. Where <date> is in military format and is the date when the backup was taken. Restoring a backup made today would be restored with suffix " - backup 2019-08-04".
If you don't want that suffix then you can rename the folder name and remove the suffix before you open it in VMware Workstation.
The VM name itself also has this suffix so that it is easy to identify. Note that this name can be changed from within VMware Workstation back to the original name.

If it was running when the backup was done, after the restore will it still be in running state, suspended or powered down state?

If the VM was running while making the backup it will come back to the same running state. This works well when you restore to the same host, if you restore to another host then you can choose to restore in shutdown state as things like CPU registers might not exist on the different hardware and restoring state might not work or be unstable.
A suspended VM will be suspended and a shut down VM comes back as shut down.

Restoring a physical machine in production is a tricky and dangerous exercise. If things go wrong and your backup didn't restore as expected then it is quite traumatic and things might be worse as before the restore.

With VMs however it is pretty harmless and a good exercise that I can only recommend doing so that you have a feel how it all works before disaster strikes.
You might want to practice with a slightly smaller VM though as 300GB takes its time to copy and create/verify md5 sums.

TL;DR it is safe to restore your backup as it will not overwrite your original VM.
You can't overwrite the original VM by accident, at least I cannot think of a scenario on how you would be able to succeed in doing so.

Last edited by wila (2019-08-04 18:18:28)

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#7 2019-08-04 18:51:15

dennis9999
Member
Registered: 2019-08-04
Posts: 7

Re: how long to do a backup?

Thank you Wil, you have been most helpful.
I believe its now time to try a backup and see what happens.

Dennis

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#8 2019-08-05 13:56:55

dennis9999
Member
Registered: 2019-08-04
Posts: 7

Re: how long to do a backup?

Pretty impressive, first backup of my 22gig xp client took 16 minutes.
backup of the 300gig vista VM took 4 hours.
So far it appears to work with workstation pro version 10.
I did encounter an error on a scheduled backup, will start a new thread for that

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