I am currently running a time consuming python script on a virtual machine(It has been running for ~95 hours at the moment). I have no idea how long it will take to complete and am running it on a VM because of the possibility to save the state and reboot my laptop (In case of mandatory updates). However, I just received an e-mail that I have to turn my laptop in to get an upgrade from windows 8 to windows 10 tomorrow.

Because the script has been running for quite some time now I don't want to start all over again the day after tomorrow. Is it possible to back-up the VM including the current state and get it up and running again when my machine has been updated? And if so what is the best way to do this?

Some extra information:
-I am running windows 8 on the host system
-The VM is running Xubuntu 16.04

Thanks in advance!

Edit: I'm not upgrading from windows 8 to 10 with the free upgrade, i will receive a clean windows 10 installation because of company policy.

  • Just delay the Win10 upgrade? You have 10 more weeks for the free upgrade....
    – TJJ
    May 17 '16 at 8:11
  • It is not my private laptop, my entire company is getting the upgrade this week and I have no control over this. May 17 '16 at 8:11
  • 1
    The save state feature tends to break even with VirtualBox upgrades. If this is company business, talk to your supervisor.
    – Daniel B
    May 17 '16 at 8:25

This is not possible.

Yes, you can save the state of the VM to disk and resume it later, but the upgrade to windows 10 will break it. I speak out of experience.

Technically speaking it should be possible to save and resume, but pratically I found out that it won't.

  • So it can work if I back everything up and set it back up on my private laptop that is running windows 8? Or is the upgrade to windows 10 not the only thing that breaks it? May 17 '16 at 8:12
  • By the way it is not the 'standard' free upgrade. My machine is getting an entirely new windows image. May 17 '16 at 8:15
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    You can try to install the same version of Virtual Box on your private laptop, copy over all files and see if registers, but I found that it usually gives an error and that you need to throw away the session in order to start it again.
    – LPChip
    May 17 '16 at 8:51
  • Alright, thanks for your answers! I will try to copy the VM to both my private laptop and my new windows 10 installation on friday. I will update this thread to confirm or (hopefully) not confirm your answers. May 17 '16 at 9:19
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    It should work on windows 8, but for some reason it broke on the transition between windows 8 and 10 at my end. maybe you're lucky.
    – LPChip
    May 17 '16 at 9:33

What I would do in your case would be to click on "Save the machine state" in VirtualBox and then simply copy the whole VM folder to your backup drive. This way, when your laptop is returned to you with Windows 10, you can simply copy the VM folder back again to your VirtualBox VMs folder and then click on the yourVMName.vbox file to import the VM back into VirtualBox.

I have done this to move VMs to/from different computers and it's worked fine.


I am not sure about the whole system & virtual box change effect on your saved (cloned) VM. Honestly, I do not think it should break anything, that is what export is for, right?

But to answer the question that I came here with: Can I backup a running virtualbox Virtual machine?

The short answer is no. But there is a walk-around.

What you can do is use VirtualBox Snapshot. During snapshotting VBox freezes your system for a while, but it saves its current state. This might be enough if you do not want to move the machine.

I wanted to have a backup of this state. So now there is also a clone option. You can't clone a running VM. But you can clone a Snapshot of running VM :-)

So to have a copy of your machine:

  1. Create a Snapshot
    vboxmanage snapshot <uuid|vmname> take <snap-name>

  2. Clone the Snapshot
    vboxmanage clonevm <uuid|vmname> --snapshot <snap-name>

Docs: https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch08.html

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