Virtual machines are very handy, but like any computer system, they can go wrong. Files become corrupted and hardware fails. If this happens to you and you haven’t performed a backup recently, you could end up losing a lot of essential data. Here is our guide to backing up virtual machines, and more importantly, how you can do it for free using free VM software.
Why Use Virtual Machines?
A virtual machine is a copy of an operating system or software program. It looks the same and can run applications just like a regular computer. The only difference is that it needs a ‘host’ computer. There are different ways to set up a virtual machine such as creating a partition on a hard-drive. There are also different types of virtual machines, with system VMs and process VMs the ones most often used.
Most people use virtual machines to try out new operating systems or retain an old one so they can still use old software applications and games and develop new software. VMs can also be used to execute potentially dangerous software, such as malware.
The downside of using a virtual machine rather than a regular computer is that it is less efficient. In addition, if you try several VMs on a single host, you could destabilize the host by placing excessive strain on hardware resources.
The top virtual machines in 2019 include Oracle VM, Hyper-V, Proxmox VE, and vSphere Hyperadvisor.
Why Backup a Virtual Machine?
When it comes to computers, backups are a no-brainer. No computer lasts forever, and technology has an endearing habit of going wrong when you least expect it to. However, there are a number of problems to be aware of when backing up a virtual machine.
Firstly, don’t try to back up your VM the usual way, i.e. via the operating system. This will cause performance issues by placing a huge strain on the host’s resources. It’s also unwise to take a snapshot of the VM as your backup. If you revert back to the snapshot, the process is permanent.
How to Back Up a Virtual Machine for Free
Full virtual machine backup solutions are handy if you have multiple VMs and/or you want to schedule your backups. However, if you are only running a virtual machine to play some older games or test out a new application, a free virtual machine back up software solution might be just the ticket.
Free backup solutions let you create image-based backups to recover one or two virtual machines. They are easy to use and great for micro-businesses just starting out. Top brands such as Altaro typically offer a free product that can be upgraded when you need greater functionality. So, you can try out the free version, get used to how it works, and then buy a license when you need extra features.
Always read product reviews before trying a free virtual machine backup solution. If the majority of users are happy, you will be too. Look for a brand that offers a free version with the opportunity to upgrade if necessary. This saves you switching to a new product if your needs change.