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How to backup my virtual machine?

  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Home Edition
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition


Parallels Desktop virtual machines are very similar to real computers, therefore they are vulnerable to the same threats as real computers: hard disk corruption, data loss, power outage. We recommend creating virtual machine backups on a 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 macOS
  • Upgrading Windows (guest OS)

What are backup options?

  1. 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 an external hard drive. If you run your virtual machine from the external drive, the backup of the virtual machine should be put to a different external hard drive.

    To find your virtual machine's pvm file, follow the instructions below:

    How do I find my virtual machine on Mac?

  2. Built-in macOS Time Machine. Please check this article to know how to do backups using Time Machine.

  3. Parallels provides Parallels Desktop 12 users with Acronis Online Backup utility for free for 1 year. It is an online backup tool for Windows. Acronis Online Backup allows you to back up your Windows data up to 500 GB with full security and protection. 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

Additional information

  • Snapshots cannot be created for Windows virtual machines that use the Boot Camp partition

  • If your virtual machine has one or more snapshots, you can neither compress nor resize the virtual hard disk

  • 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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