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How to backup my virtual machine?

  • Parallels Desktop for Mac


Parallels Desktop virtual machines are very similar to real computers, therefore they are subjected to the same threats as real computers: hard disk corruptions, data losses, power outages. We recommend creating virtual machine backups on regular basis to keep your work and data safe.

When should I backup my virtual machine?

We strongly recommend to backup your virtual machine before performing the following operations:

  • Compressing virtual hard disk
  • Expanding / resizing virtual hard disk
  • Reinstalling / upgrading Mac OS X

What are backup options?

  1. Built-in Mac OS X Time Machine. If you use Parallels Desktop 6 or 7 for Mac, please check this article to know how to do backups using Time Machine.

  2. Manual backup. You may simply back up the entire virtual machine by copying its .pvm file (it contains the whole virtual machine) to another place on your Macintosh HD or to external hard drive. You can find virtual machine's .pvm file by following these steps:

    • Right-click on Parallels Desktop icon in Dock and choose Control Center (Virtual Machine's list in older versions)

    • Right-click on virtual machine and choose Show in Finder
  3. As an additional benefit, Parallels provides you with Acronis Online Backup. It is an online backup tool for Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Acronis Online Backup allows you to back up your Windows data up to 250 GB with full security and protection. For Parallels Desktop users, Acronis Online Backup is free for 90 days. For the additional information, please visit this article.

  4. A third party backup utility like Acronis True Image Home, Carbonite, etc.

Note: Our general recommendation for any backup method is to keep the virtual machine Shut Down during this process.

How to protect Guest OS from corruption?

A snapshot is a saved state of the guest OS. It's useful to create snapshots, for example, before:

  • You are going to run some programs that may damage the guest OS

  • You are going to configure some guest OS software that requires a lot of settings and changes

  • You want to mark milestones in the development process

    1. Snapshots cannot be created for Windows virtual machines that use the Boot Camp partition
    2. If your virtual machine has one or more snapshots, you can neither compress nor resize the virtual hard disk
    3. Creating a snapshot increases the size of the virtual machine .pvm bundle

If you have a snapshot, you can revert to a state of the virtual machine saved in there at any time.

For the additional information please check working with snapshots article.

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