8 Replies Latest reply: Aug 30, 2009 1:46 PM by Kappy
terencehopwood Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I am new to Apple, and have hit a problem with the use of Time Machine. I use Parallels 4 with MS Windows XP3 so that I can continue to use some of my Windows-based program(me)s. I installed a dedicated WD 1TB HDD for backup, with no partitions. Time Machine did its first backup of 215GB Ok and seemed to continue to just copy the modified files thereafter, just a few KB. But, then I realised that if Parallels is open, the backup will contain the whole of the Virtual machine, and it copies 194GB every time, every 3 hours, so my HDD is full in one day. But I am working onthe virtual machine quite a lot, so it's open.
I want to back up the modified files in the virtual machine, they are mostly graphical, but not the whole machine every time.
If I exclude Parallels in the Time Machine Preferences, I won't get a back-up, will I ?
If anyone can tell me where I am going wrong I would be very grateful.

iMac 3.06 GHz Intel 1TB HDD, Mac OS X (10.5.6), Western Digital 1TB Ext HDD
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (244,680 points)
    TM will not backup the Parallels folder if you add it to the Exclude list. That is correct. If you do not then TM will backup the folder in its entirety whenever the contents have changed, which is each time you use Parallels. Since Parallels maintains a pseudo-disk that is a disc image TM is unable to backup only changed files on the image, but will back up the entire disc image.

    If you want a simple Windows backup then you will need to do that separately from within Windows and exclude the Parallels folder from your TM backup.
  • terencehopwood Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for your quick response Kappy. I guess that gives me something else to think about, but at least I shall no longer be going around in circles trying to do something that is impossible.
    Telephone support didn't seem to quite grasp the problem, perhaps being a 'newbie' I didn't quite understand the questions to ask.
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (244,680 points)
    This particular problem with using TM and VM software such as Fusion or Parallels has been around since Leopard's release. I'm surprised the support at Parallels was unable to "grasp" the problem. They should be fully aware. Perhaps the newbie was the person you spoke with!

    Unfortunately, there's really no simple solution to the problem. Either you live with these periodically huge backups with TM or you look for a separate Windows solution.

    A possible solution, one that I use, is to only backup once per day or once per week using other backup software that overwrites changed files instead of archiving all older versions. You lose the "back in time" feature of TM but use much less disk space on the backup drive. If you wish to ponder this alternative here are some alternative backup utilities:

    Backup Software Recommendations

    1. Retrospect Desktop (Commercial)
    2. Synchronize! Pro X (Commercial)
    3. Synk (Backup, Standard, or Pro)
    4. Deja Vu (Shareware)
    5. Carbon Copy Cloner (Donationware)
    6. SuperDuper! (Commercial)
    7. Intego Personal Backup (Commercial)
    8. Data Backup (Commercial)
    9. SilverKeeper 2.0 (Freeware)
    10. MimMac (Commercial)
    11. Tri-Backup (Commercial)

    Visit The XLab FAQs and read the FAQ on backup and restore. Also read How to Back Up and Restore Your Files.
  • terencehopwood Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Kappy, once again thanks for the response. I successfully used Acronis True Image on my PC so may return to that, and perhaps partition the Western Digital external HD, as it is switched on all the time that computer is in use, and I shall no doubt decrease my use of the VM as I transfer my video editing to Final Cut on the Mac.
    It would have been helpful if the shop who sold me the package recently had told me that you cannot use TM for Parallels. I'll make sure they know.
    For the record it was not Parallels who found the problem difficult, it was Apple.
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (244,680 points)
    You can use TM with Parallels. Please don't misunderstand. However, doing so has consequences for your backup strategy. Personally I do not use TM precisely because I cannot control its operation sufficiently to accommodate my situation. TM is a "simple" backup system that has limited user control. Nevertheless it's not that difficult a situation to handle. If you use TM then you have only two options: include Parallels or Fusion; or, exclude them. Or you can use a third-party utility such as TimeMachiineEdit to modify the backup period so TM does not backup so frequently. Or you can use some other backup software. Or you can simply backup Windows independently as you've now done.

    In no way do I see you were misinformed a the Apple Store.
  • James Collard1 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    When I faced this similar situation, I simply set up document sharing in Parallels to share with my home folder. Then all my files were saved separately into my documents folder and outside of the virtual machine. This meant that I could exclude the actual Parallels image from Time Machine but include all of the documents I work on in there.

    So if my system were to fail all I would have lost is my Windows installation but not the work files held within it. Seemed to be the best option for me.
  • Jeff2006makeunique Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I thought that Parallels Desktop for Mac V4 stored its hard disk file as a sparse bundle, so that Time Machine could only back up the actually-changed portions of the "windows disk", rather than the entire hard disk file.

    Is this the case, or not?
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (244,680 points)
    It is not the case. If the pseudo-disk changes TM backs up the entire disk each time it changes. You should exclude the pseudo-disk from TM backups or you will quickly run out of storage space on your backup drive.