VMware Fusion and Time Machine

I’m running VMware Fusion on my Mac and, by the way, it’s really working great. Currently I have a VM with Windows 2000 Professional (I need this one for development), one with Ubuntu and one with Open Solaris.

Well, so far so good. Recently I installed version 2.0.1 of VMware Fusion (I still had version 1.1.3 before) and read in VMware’s update guide, that it’s recommended to backup virtual machines before doing so. I thought, sure, no problem – I always backup with Time Machine, so I already have an update.

After 2.0.1 was running (worked like a charm) I checked my backups and ooops, found out that I didn’t have a backup of my virtual machines! How’s that possible? Time Machine is supposed to backup my whole hard disc, the only exception is my Download folder (I manually set this exception and thus know about it).

So I did some research and found out, that it seems there was some kind of conflict between certain versions of VMware Fusion and Time Machine (Time Machine could crash virtual machines) and therefore VMware decided to exclude virtual machines from Time Machine backups. Maybe that’s a good idea, but I, as a user, didn’t know about it – that’s critical! I always thought my virtual machines would be backed up just like all other data.

Furthermore, I read that current OSX and VMware Fusion versions don’t have these “crash issues” any more. However, VMware Fusion still excludes virtual machines from backups. If you want to manually enable Time Machine backups of virtual machines, here are instructions on how to do it.

I don’t say that backing up virtual machines with Time Machine is necessary (in fact, they can be really huge…), but the way VMware excludes virtual machines from being backed up is not ok. Users should be informed about the fact that no backups are made (e.g., a warning when a new VM is created), or backups should be done by default (that’s what users would expect).

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