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What tool do you recommend for taking backup copies of my VMs when they run VMware Workstation on Windows 7?

I have a couple of VMs which are now sort of "always-on" and I don't really want to have them shut down for a backup.

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VMware Workstation lets you take snapshot of running VMs provided that the VM doesn't use independent disks:

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From the official manual:

Take a Snapshot of a Virtual Machine

When you take a snapshot, you preserve the state of a virtual machine at a specific moment in time and the virtual machine continues to run. Taking a snapshot enables you to return to the same state repeatedly. You can take a snapshot while a virtual machine is powered on, powered off, or suspended.

Avoid taking snapshots when applications in the virtual machine are communicating with other computers, especially in production environments. For example, if you take a snapshot while the virtual machine is downloading a file from a server on the network, the virtual machine continues downloading the file after you take the snapshot. If you revert to the snapshot, communications between the virtual machine and the server are confused and the file transfer fails.

Prerequisites

  • Verify that the virtual is not configured to use a physical disk. You cannot take a snapshot of a virtual machine that uses a physical disk.
  • To have the virtual machine revert to suspend, power on, or power off when you start it, be sure it is in that state before you take the snapshot. When you revert to a snapshot, you return the memory, settings, and virtual disks of the virtual machine to the state they were in when you took the snapshot.
  • Complete any suspend operations.
  • Verify that the virtual machine is not communicating with another computer.
  • For better performance, defragment the guest operating system drives.
  • If the virtual machine has multiple disks in different disk modes, power off the virtual machine. For example, if a configuration requires you to use an independent disk, you must power off the virtual machine before you take a snapshot.
  • If the virtual machine was created with Workstation 4, delete any existing snapshots or upgrade the virtual machine to Workstation 5.x or later.

Procedure

  1. Select the virtual machine and select VM > Snapshot > Take Snapshot.
  2. Type a unique name for the snapshot.
  3. (Optional) Type a description for the snapshot. The description is useful for recording notes about the virtual machine state captured in the snapshot.
  4. Click OK to take the snapshot.
  • thanks Franck! However, I forgot to mention I want the copies to be completely off my laptop. Like a copy to my desktop PC in case the laptop is stolen. Also, would be cool to have another copy go to a USB drive. I am getting paranoid about losing my stuff ;-) – Lucas65 Sep 15 '14 at 18:50
  • Snapshots are not copies. Clones cannot be made from suspended or running VMs. – Kyle Strand Jan 12 '15 at 17:39
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A buddy of mine in Canada recommended Backup Chain that they use mainly for Hyper-V and suggested I give it a shot for VMware Workstation. I'm now playing with the trial to see how it works and will post a screenshot with more info later. What I like so far is the compression option that builds increments from day to day. What I haven't checked yet is how it handles VMware snapshots...

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