Looking for an easy virtual machine solution for use, backup and recovery

This is for home office use.

I have a Windows 7 PC with a quad core CPU and 8GB RAM that is used on a daily basis and at times, it is crucial that I have it available.  I just went through a HD failure and it took longer than I'd like to get things up and running again.  

So, I was considering setting up a virtual machine.  But I'd like to have a good process for setting up and maintaining that VM on a daily basis in case my real machine goes out, I'd like to just take the VM to another PC and use it from there.  Obviously, this would involve some kind of daily backup.  

I'm thinking the VM will be 100GB-150GB

So, I need suggestions on a solution and these are some questions going through my mind:
Which free VM product? VirtualBox, VMWare, Hyper-V?
Once I create the VM from my physical machine, what would be the best way to update it daily so it could be ready to go when needed? Re-duplicate the drive? Update the changed files? Use a tool made for VM backup?
Should I make my main machine a VM and only use my physical machine to host my VM?
I'll need my VM to access USB printers, cameras, sound, scanners, etc and be able to access network drives, printers, scanners, etc.
If I put data on the host HD instead of the VM will it noticeably slow down my access time vs on the non-VM?
These two are of a secondary nature:
Can I have two VM's on the same physical machine and set one up as a MySQL server that can be accessed by another?
Can I have two VM's on the different physical machines and set one up as a MySQL server that can be accessed by another?

Guess that's my Q's for this topic.


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Michael DyerSenior Systems Support AnalystCommented:
I am using the free VMware player for casual use and it works great for me.  It is fast and connects to my devices, network drives, etc.  You can have multiple virtual machines open at the same time if your hardware has the resources to support it - you just have to pick which one gets access to usb devices, etc.  For backup, you just shut down and copy the virtual machine files - I back up mine to an external USB drive.  It works well for me.

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I use VMware Workstation and have several machines so I do use what you are suggesting.

It would be easier and less problem to use Ghost, Acronis or like and a USB Hard Drive and back up your system monthly. Make a bootable USB drive (Ghost does this) and be able to recover from a recent backup to a new hard drive. We do this a clients. I would not use VMware for this.

Daily (even twice daily) use Sync Back Pro to back up data. I have never lost data because I keep it constantly backed up.

•Can I have two VM's on the same physical machine and set one up as a MySQL server that can be accessed by another?  <-- Yes, of course. The machines need to be networked but that is not hard.

•Can I have two VM's on the different physical machines and set one up as a MySQL server that can be accessed by another?  <-- Yes. Networking would be a bit trickier but can still be done.

Networking virtual machines is like networking real machines. Same rules and procedures.
Anuj BhatiaDirectorCommented:
I agree with John .. on this .. I also have many machines on Vm and works fine and can be networked together.. but make sure you should have Sufficient hardware to support it on the Host...


Anuj Bhatia.
Acronis True Image 2019 just released!

Create a reliable backup. Make sure you always have dependable copies of your data so you can restore your entire system or individual files.

Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
You could put the VM into Azure or a third party to eliminate the backup/restore step altogether.
Anand PandyaCommented:
There are two option :
1. the above suggested CLOUD the way wind is blowing :)
2. If you would not like to invest, then you could just take the external hard drive and create VM on it and when ever you connect that external hard disk you can power on the VM on your office laptop or home only you need to configure vhd location on both the machines.

I hope it resolves your query.
cashonlyAuthor Commented:
VMWare looks like the way to go.  I like the idea of Azure as well as the separate drives in combo with VMWare and will investigate those as well.

Thank you!
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