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[Discuss] How do Linux guys back up Windows?

On 12/27/2012 08:28 PM, David Kramer wrote:
> On 12/27/2012 04:24 PM, Jerry Feldman wrote:
>> Looking more at Dave's situation, IMHO, Dave might be better off running
>> Windows in a virtual machine. The advantages are:
>> 1. The VM can  be backed up during normal Linux backups and easily
>> restored.
>> 2. You can take snapshots to reduce boot time.
>> 3. VMs are portable. You can stick a VM on a USB drive and run it from
>> another computer. You can take a Virtualbox and move it to VMWare and
>> vice-versa with a bit of effort.
>> 4. As in Mark's #1, since the physical system is the virtual container,
>> it does not care about the physical world.
>> 5. VMWare and VirtualBox provide methods to convert an existing physical
>> machine to virtual. (PtoV). This way you can take your physically
>> installed Windows and convert them to a virtual container. VMWare has a
>> free tool you can use for this.
>> There are some disadvantages of virtual machines.
>> 1. Graphics is limited, so if you are using Windows for a high
>> performance graphical system, then VM is not for you
>> 2. Performance of a VM is going to be less than that if it is native.
>> With today's multi-core processors this is not muc of an issue.
>> But this makes a much better backup solution
> Up until recently, that's exactly what I was doing.  My *only* uses for
> Windows were to back up/sync my iPhone and remote desktop into work. 
> Syncing with iTunes running in a VM often went badly, but not often
> enough to stop me from doing it.
> What has changed is that
> - My main laptop died [1] and I replaced it with a much beefier one that
> can do real work, so now  I have a dual boot powerful laptop.  I
> wouldn't have replaced the laptop right away, but I wanted to get one
> before they even started thinking about shipping them with Windows 8.
> - I'm now gaming [2] every month or so with my coworkers, and sometimes
> on my own.  I built a powerful gaming rig that is dual boot, and I
> decided to use the Linux side of it as my main machine instead of a
> laptop.  I'm VERY happy with that decision.
> So using Windows in a VM *may* work for *some* games, but it's not
> really the way to go.
> After seeing everyone's great comments (including "install Linux"), I've
> come to the realization that I'm probably best off doing a very
> occasional mirror image of Windows, and use Unison to copy off my
> documents that change.  Maybe I'll have to reinstall windows, maybe the
> image will restore.  The only for-pay applications installed on either
> Windows box is MS Office, and my Steam games which will reinstall
> themselves with no problems.
> Thanks for all the great advice.
> [1] The screen backlight died, but the rest of the laptop works.  It's 5
> years old though, so I'm not going to replace the backlight. I'll
> probably hook it up to a TV as a MythTV client.
> [2] Halo, Counter Strike, Torchlight II, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and a few
> others.  dj_segfault on Steam.
Gaming in a VM is probably not very good yet.

Jerry Feldman <gaf at>
Boston Linux and Unix
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