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Strategy for backing up Parallels folder on a MacBook Pro, etc.

Have just bought an Iomega MiniMax 500gb backup disk for my MacBook Pro.
I use Parallels and have Windows XP Pro installed in/on it.
Two questions:

1. My Parallels folder has a size of about 30GB. I understand that Time Machine will try and back this up when there are ANY changes to ANY windows file. If I am right I obviously cannot include it in my automatic backups. Also, I find that, with the backup running when I start the Parallels Desktop VM I get the errors:
Unable to complete Backup.
And then
Device Removal. The device you removed was not properly put away.
What is the best strategy for backing up the Parallels folder, say, once a day? I was wondering if I could, say, exclude the Parallels folder from backing up in Time Machine and then write some applescript which would run on startup and copy the Parallels folder to another folder, renaming it to "Copy of Parallels Folder" (thus overwriting the previous copy).This would presumably result in the next backup backing this folder up but not doing so for the remainder of the day as it will not have changed. If this is a good idea what would the applescript be and where would I put it to run on startup?

2. Is TimeMachine the right software to use. I would prefer to create a bootable backup (don't think TM does this) as I would like to be able to switch to the backup disk and run software on it just as I can on the MacBook to check that everything is ok. I would like then to be able to restore everything in the event of a disk failure. I assume, unlike windows, everything should run ok again



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bogorman
Asked:
bogorman
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1 Solution
 
strungCommented:
See today's Macfixit:  http://www.macfixit.com for some backup tips.
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
bogorman

Time Machine is an excellent tool but only part of a proper backup solution.
Here's what I'd recommend

1. In Time Machine in System Preferences EXCLUDE the entire Parallels VM folder (located in your Documents folder).  I'd also recommend adding your Downloads, Desktop folders too as they tend to collect a lot of junk over time.  You might also want to consider folders such as Music or Movies if you download TV or Movies from iTunes.
You can even REMOVE backups of the Parallels VM folder from your current Time Machine backups
http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/2655/leopard_time_machine_delete_files_folders_from_backup/

2. Time machine backups ARE bootable (sort of) .. you just boot the Mac from your original OSX install DVD and you can load the Time Machine backup from the external drive  and restore your mac to ANY of the snapshots in the past.
3. Parallels has an in-built function to take snapshots of the current configuration (and the latest version 4 allows you to take automatic snapshots every hour, day, week etc.) which gives you the ability to roll-back the VM to earlier dates
4. Get your hands on Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! (both free)
These programs take an entire and exact snapshot of your complete Mac hard Drive .. and allow you to save it as a mountable DMG image file.  CCC and the Pay-for version of SuperDuper! can be scheduled to run daily or weekly to perform incremental backups of this image.

You now have 2 types of backups ..
1.  Time Machine to restore earlier versions of files or restore deleted files/folders
2. CCC system image to restore the entire mac in the event of failure.  I find it faster to restore CCC images than Time Machine but both will work so you're double-protected.
 
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bogormanAuthor Commented:
Thanks so much, both of you, for your helpful advice. Both the link (strung) and your very detailed advice (eoinosullivan) really answer most of my questions.

Two things you haven't commented on

- with the backup running when I start the Parallels Desktop VM I get the errors: "Unable to complete Backup", And then: "Device Removal. The device you removed was not properly put away".
Does this mean I have to wait until a backup is finished before running Parallels? It is strange that it happens as I have excluded the Parallels folder. I would have thought that the backup of everything else would continue while using Parallels.

- the applescript idea. I had assumed this would simplify matters as I would only have to think of one TimeMachine backup and, in the event of, say, a disk failure, I would restore the backup and then create a Parallels folder from the copy. Possibly, however, you might feel that this is not a good idea and that it would be better to use the 2 types of backup that eoinosullivan suggested.
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
The error "Device Removal. The device you removed was not properly put away" usually relates to a USB device being improperly unmounted.

I guess that you may have an issue whereby the Parallels VM is trying to take control of the external USB external drive that Time Machine is trying to write to .. this creating the error.

Make sure Time Machine is NOT running.  Open your parallels VM and make sure that the USB device which Time Machine uses is NOT assigned to Windows XP.

Rather than Applescript you could create a simple Automator Script to copy the Parallels VM folder to the external drive.. if you save the Automator script as an Application .. you can run that application on a daily basis via apple's built in launchd service.

Get a small program called Lingon which allows you to schedule any program to run at any interval.

Alternatively any simple backup application could also backup this folder to the external drive.

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bogormanAuthor Commented:
When you sayMake sure Time Machine is NOT running.  Open your parallels VM and make sure that the USB device which Time Machine uses is NOT assigned to Windows XP:

Do I (when Parallels is not running) just right-click the TimeMachine icon in the dock and if it shows "Backup Now" does this mean it is not running?

Also, am not sure how I open the Parallels VM. Is this just by running Parallels or can I do this while in OSX? Certainly, when I run Parallels I still get the Device Removal box, even though TimeMachine is not running and also, when in Parallels, the Devices menu shows the USB/Iomega drive as ticked, but how can I make sure that it is not assigned to Windows XP?
Regards

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bogormanAuthor Commented:
Hi,
Have thought about your replay and now see what you mean. Think I will just have to Eject the external drive before opening Parallels.
One last question about backup. If I want to (possibly via a script) copy certain Windows FILES over to a folder outside the Parallels folder, is it possible to do this. I was thinking that, if I were to time this operation by using Lingon as you suggest, this would be a good idea to ensure that certain windows folders were, say, backed up more frequently. I could then backup the copy of the Parallels folder once a week.
I am not sure whether you can copy Windows folders to a folder OUTSIDE the Parallels folder.
Brian

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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
You can only copy certain Windows files to an external drive when Windows is running in Parallels.  In this case you'd be best using a Windows backup tool such as Backup, XCopy or SyncToy or 1 of 100 other applications
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bogormanAuthor Commented:
Do I have to partition the drive and format the new partition as NTFS to use it for windows files?
My disk has the Mac OS Extended (Journalled) format at present.
Also, I usually eject the disk at present before opening Parallels as otherwise, I think, I get the Device Removal error. How do I connect to the drive when I am in windows?
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Do I have to partition the drive and format the new partition as NTFS to use it for windows files?
NO, but it will have to be FAT32 .. not Apple HFS format.  Windows can read/write FAT32 and OSX can read/write FAT32 .. this is the best format to allow the HD to be usable by both OSes.

My disk has the Mac OS Extended (Journalled) format at present.
Then you'll need to reformat the entire drive or split into 2 partitions and format the Windows one as FAT32 or if you want it for Windows alone you can format it as NTFS (but only when it is opend from within Parallels).

Also, I usually eject the disk at present before opening Parallels as otherwise, I think, I get the Device Removal error. How do I connect to the drive when I am in windows?
Wait until parallels is up and running, then plug in the USB drive .. Parallels should then ask you if you want the USB drive available for OSX or Parallels.
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bogormanAuthor Commented:
Thanks so much for your help
You really have spent a lot of time on my questions and I really appreciate it.
Regards
Brian
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