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I am using a VM for developing websites. Lots of my work files are only accessible from inside the VM. Currently I only create backups of the VM itself. I don't backup the files inside the VM to a location external to the VM. Do I need to?

Currently my thought is that if the VM's virtual disks become corrupted somehow, I can always restore the VM from the backup. But at the same time, if for some reason the VM's became corrupted and I couldn't restore an old version I would be losing lots of work.

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If you are suspending/shutting down the VM before taking the backup you should be fine. It is unlikely that anything gets corrupted if you copy away a consistant backup of the file.

However, to add an additional layer of protection you should thing about performing off-site backups (e.g. copying the files to an external location) from time to time.

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The general problem is to ensure that you can use your backups, ie you need to know what hardware and software you need. I would put the installation files for the VM software on the backup medium, and also a tool for extracting individual files from the VM disk file.

Oh, I would not just suspend the VM:s. I would shut them down properly before backing up.

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In your situation I wouldn't do another backup, because it adds complexity to your backup system.

If I would like to ensure my ability to restore the data, I would do the following:

  1. Ensure, that the backup of the VM is stored at some independent place. By that I mean, that in the case of any single failure (e.g. some HDD is unreadable, or you mistakenly dropped your laptop into a concrete mixer) you will still have either the backup or the VM.

  2. Ensure you can restore your VM from the backup without any data, stored on the computer with current version of VM (i.e. you can restore your backup in the case of a failure). The simplest way to do that is to make a test and actually restore it, before the disaster happens.

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