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Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes

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Todd Gruel
Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:35:15 pm

Hi, all.

I'm planning on running old Windows OSes in a Mac virtualisation program. Why? I need to pair certain software with a certain OS.

I'm wondering if there's a way to automate backups for these Windows projects? Is there any software that exists that can do so for old Windows OSes? Or am I stuck manually backing things up?


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John Rofrano
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:59:19 am

Whatever virtualization software you’re using will store the windows operating system as disk images on your Mac as files. All you need to do is back up those files that represent the disk, and the windows machine is backed up. Something as simple as a carbon copy cloner batch job that copies them to an external disk every day would be fine.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Todd Gruel
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:12:04 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

To be precise, I'm most concerned about backing up my project files that I'll be working with. As they will exist in a Windows OS as ExFat files, data backup is not available by any Mac backup programs that I know of. Does the process of virtualisation make backing up ExFat easier somehow? Or do the same principles apply here?


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John Rofrano
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:37:14 pm

If you just want to backup your project files you can use an external USB drive to do that while running the Windows OS in a virtual machine.

I use Scooter Software's Beyond Compare to do this. It makes it very easy to compare files or entire folders and only copy the ones that have changed. It does not have an automated way to do this but I just run it after working in my Windows VM before I shut it down and backup all of my work. I actually back it up to a folder one of my Mac drives since most virtual machine software will allow you to share Mac folders inside the Windows machine.

What are you using for virtualization? Parallels Desktop? VMware Fusion? VirtualBox? All of those allow you to use USB drives from within the Windows VM or map a Mac folder into the virtual machine.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Todd Gruel
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 30, 2020 at 6:03:59 am

Thanks for your feedback!

A few clarifying questions. What do you mean about virtualization software allowing you to share folders on a Mac drive? I was thinking that folders had to be separated according to OS formatting, ExFat for Windows and Mac OS Journaled for Mac, etc.

Using a USB drive would probably be best, I think. By map onto a virtualization, do you mean that Windows files can be saved onto a Mac drive directly when using some virtualization software? Is that safe?

I haven’t picked a program yet. Maybe Parallels? I just need something compatible with very old Windows OSes. Any suggestions? Thanks!


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John Rofrano
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:53:13 am

Ah OK, I thought you already had the software and knew now it worked. Let me fill you in because I've been using virtualization software for over 10 years. I teach a masters class on DevOps and Agile Methodologies at New York University (NYU) and I have my students do all of their class work in a Linux virtual machine so that I don't have to deal with the differences between Windows and Mac. I use VirtualBox for my class because it is free. Its not as slick as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion but you can't beat the price.
[Todd Gruel] "What do you mean about virtualization software allowing you to share folders on a Mac drive? I was thinking that folders had to be separated according to OS formatting, ExFat for Windows and Mac OS Journaled for Mac, etc. "
When you create your Windows virtual machine you will be asked if you want to share any folders on your Mac with the Windows OS. It doesn't matter how your drives are formatted; inside of Windows they look like network attached drives. The virtualization software takes care of turning them into what looks like a network share and Windows can read and write to them regardless of how they are formatted on your Mac.

Parallels Desktop will even ask if you want to share the home folder of your Mac as the home folder on Windows so that all of your files are available in both OS's. I have always said No to this. I am very selective about what folders I let Windows see from my Mac. You might even want your project folder in Windows to actually be on your Mac and shared inside of your Windows VM. Then TimeMachine will backup your project files with the rest of your Mac. Problem solved! 😃

I would download the 14 Day Free Trial of Parallels Desktop and play with it so that you understand better how this all works.
[Todd Gruel] "Using a USB drive would probably be best, I think. By map onto a virtualization, do you mean that Windows files can be saved onto a Mac drive directly when using some virtualization software? Is that safe?"
Yes, and it's completely safe. When you start the Windows virtual machine first, and then plug a USB drive into your Mac, you will be greeted with a prompt that asks, "Do you want the USB drive to be connected to Mac or Windows?". If you answer "Windows", it shows up as a USB drive in the Windows virtual machine. If you answer"Mac" it shows up as a drive on your Mac.

You can also drag and drop files from the Windows VM to your Mac. So you could drag a folder from the Windows VM and drop it on your Mac Desktop and all of the files will be copied to your Mac. It's pretty cool. (download the free trial... I think you will be amazed at what you can do)
[Todd Gruel] "I haven’t picked a program yet. Maybe Parallels? I just need something compatible with very old Windows OSes. Any suggestions?"
My son uses Parallels Desktop and I use VMware Fusion because I got it from work. Both work great. Both retail for $79 USD. Both have support that goes back to PC-DOS. I was very impressed with how easy Parallels Desktop set up Windows 10 for my son so I would say that Parallels might be a little more user friendly for someone who is unfamiliar with how virtualization works.

I don't know how old of a Windows OS you need to use but here is a screen shot of Windows 98 running on my MacBook Pro with VMware Fusion. 😉



I also have a VM that runs Windows 3.1 so it doesn't get much older than that.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Todd Gruel
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:34:05 pm

Thanks, John!

I can write; but my computer knowledge is still limited. 😉

No, I'm still in the research phase. I like the price of free, as long as VirtualBox is easy to use. I just downloaded a "build", although I'm not sure how it works? Will try it out soon...

If that doesn't work as needed, I'll try out something else. Ultimately, I just need something simple. (I'm also running Catalina. So the program needs to work with my Mac OS.)

I'm planning on using XP or Vista.

Okay, technical clarification. Is the folder sharing and hybridization of files the same for all the virtualisation programs? Can I get away with avoiding formatting a partition as ExFat with all three options? If I can save the projects in a Mac-compatible format then it would be easier to back up, for sure!

Also, do you only get that prompt about whether you want USB drives to register as Mac or Windows drives the first time they're plugged in (making this an important one-time decision) or does this happen every time the drives are plugged in? Can they register as both Mac and Windows drives simultaneously?

Thanks! It's always good to talk to teachers. ;)


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John Rofrano
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Jul 30, 2020 at 12:50:11 pm

[Todd Gruel] "Okay, technical clarification. Is the folder sharing and hybridization of files the same for all the virtualisation programs? Can I get away with avoiding formatting a partition as ExFat with all three options? If I can save the projects in a Mac-compatible format then it would be easier to back up, for sure!"
Yes, it is the same for all virtualization software. Part of the virtualization that they do is to create a virtual network within which you can share drives. It doesn't matter what their original format is, they are accessed via this virtual network. This makes all drives look the same.

The only time you would format a partition as ExFat is if you were using something like Bootcamp with a "real" Windows partition. Bootcamp is not virtualization. Its Windows running natively on Mac hardware. In that case, it sees the "real" drive and the drive needs to have a format that Windows understands. But with virtualization, this is not the case.
[Todd Gruel] "Also, do you only get that prompt about whether you want USB drives to register as Mac or Windows drives the first time they're plugged in (making this an important one-time decision) or does this happen every time the drives are plugged in? Can they register as both Mac and Windows drives simultaneously?"
You get prompted every time. The drive cannot be connected to both at the same time, but you could answer Mac the first time. Copy files from your Mac to the USB drive. Eject the drive from your Mac. Plug it back in, answer Windows the second time and the USB drive shows up in the Windows VM. Every time you eject it, and re-insert it, you will be promoted to attach it to either Windows or Mac. This assumes that the Windows VM is running. If you haven't started it yet, then there is no prompt and the USB drive is attached to your Mac just like normal.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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Todd Gruel
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Aug 4, 2020 at 8:23:06 am

Thanks so much for your thorough and thoughtful responses.

I'm going through the installation process now for VirtualBox and I'm being asked about adding a virtual hard disk. I'm imagining that I'll need to install one of these, right? Since I don't know what my needs are, is it best to choose a more generic virtual hard drive type that might be compatible with other virtualisation software: Virtual Hard Disk or Virtual Machine Disk? What is the difference?

Also, I noticed that I have the VMware Player, too. How does this differ from VirtualBox or the other virtualisation programs? Can the dragging and dropping of files and folders that you've described within VMware also be done within VirtualBox?

Lastly, I've downloaded the trail of Beyond Compare. It's expensive! But if I understand correctly, any of these virtualisation programs will be compatible with Mac backup programs, right? Since I'm not using BootCamp, will I be able to use Carbon Copy Cloner, for example, to bar up my virtual drive?


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Todd Gruel
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Aug 4, 2020 at 5:55:36 pm

Another question...

Upon looking at Virtual Box again, it appears that I have to create a separate destination folder for each Windows OS? Does that mean that the folders can't share content? Can I not then use another virtualisation software later to access those folders?


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John Rofrano
Re: Mac Backup Software for Old Windows OSes
on Aug 7, 2020 at 2:27:30 pm
Last Edited By John Rofrano on Aug 7, 2020 at 2:45:25 pm

Great questions. Let me try and explain...
[Todd Gruel] "Since I don't know what my needs are, is it best to choose a more generic virtual hard drive type that might be compatible with other virtualisation software: Virtual Hard Disk or Virtual Machine Disk? What is the difference?"
I understand that you might change you mind but it's usually best to stick with the native format for the virtualization software that you will use. Most will convert between formats anyway so you are not really locked in. This is the difference:
  • VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) is the native format for VirtualBox
  • VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) is the native format for Microsoft Hyper-V
  • VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) is the native format for VMWare
I realize that the allure of "free" is great... but Parallels Desktop would be a much more user friendly experience for a beginner and they do have a free trial.
[Todd Gruel] "Also, I noticed that I have the VMware Player, too. How does this differ from VirtualBox or the other virtualisation programs?"
VMware Player is free software from VMware that allows you to use Virtual Machines that other people create images for. You cannot create a new image, but you can download images from the internet or co-workers and use them without having to buy a VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion license.
[Todd Gruel] "Can the dragging and dropping of files and folders that you've described within VMware also be done within VirtualBox?"
Yes, all three packages, (VMware, VirtualBox, and Parallels) have this capability.
[Todd Gruel] "I've downloaded the trail of Beyond Compare. It's expensive! But if I understand correctly, any of these virtualisation programs will be compatible with Mac backup programs, right? Since I'm not using BootCamp, will I be able to use Carbon Copy Cloner, for example, to bar up my virtual drive?"
Yes, if you share a folder from your host side of the virtual machine the files will actually only exist on your Mac and you can use CCC to back them up.
[Todd Gruel] "Upon looking at Virtual Box again, it appears that I have to create a separate destination folder for each Windows OS? Does that mean that the folders can't share content? Can I not then use another virtualisation software later to access those folders?"
No, that folder is for the virtual machine files. It contains metadata about how much cpu and memory and what networks to use. It also contains the .vdi/.vhd/.vmdk file which represents the disk images for the C: drive of the virtual machine. It is specific to the virtualization software that you are using. However, other virtualization software have the ability to import the C: drive to a new virtual machine which they will keep in their folder structure.

The virtual machine is just a collection of files on your Mac. They have to live somewhere, and so all of the hypervisors create a folder for each virtual machine to store these files. ("hypervisor" is the generic term use to describe virtualization software) This has nothing to do with file sharing.

Hope that clears up some confusion. If not, keep asking. 😉

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasstsoftware.com



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