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Backing up virtual machines with Time Machine

  • Parallels Desktop 10 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac
  • Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac


One of the ways to back up your Virtual Machine(s) is to use the Mac built-in Time Machine Utility; it's one of the easiest ways to keep your computer safe.

Parallels Desktop for Mac includes improved integration with Time Machine.

When backing up the Virtual Machine, it will only backup the recent changes (the latest snapshot), but not the whole virtual hard drive. Thus, the backup process will take less time and use less space on your Time Machine storage device.

To enable improved integration with Time Machine,

  • Go to Virtual Machine Configuration,

  • in Parallels Desktop 8 and earlier:

    choose Options tab and hit Backup.

    Select "Optimize for Time Machine" in SmartGuard menu.

  • in Parallels Desktop 9 and 10:

    switch to Security tab

    check SmartGuard: Enabled checkbox

If you do not want your virtual machine to be backed up by Time Machine:

  • Go to Virtual Machine Configuration,

  • in Parallels Desktop 8 and earlier:

    choose Options tab and hit Backup.

    check the “Do not back up with Time Machine” box.

  • in Parallels Desktop 9 and 10

    switch to Security tab

    check the "Time Machine: do not backup with Time machine" checkbox

To know more about the SmartGuard logic please refer to KB 115052

NOTE: In order to restore your Virtual Machine from Time Machine backup, you need to check the location of PVM file.

Usually it is /User/Documents/Parallels or /Users/Shared/Parallels/

Follow instructions in Apple KB article HT1427

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time machine

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