Thursday, July 27, 2006

Virtual PC in your Pocket

Carry your Virtual PCs in CD / DVD ROMs

For product testers and operating system instructors, Virtual PCs are established handy tool. Within a Compatible Operating system, through Virtual PCs, dozens other compatible operating systems can be installed and run without having to reboot the PC once. What will happen if an operating system on your Virtual PC crumbles due to one of many silly reasons such as- system crash during new product testing process or due to file system errors? You have no option but to reinstall the operating system again in the Virtual PC, the way you reinstall OS in your physical PC. There are better options in life if you have CD / DVD writer. You can burn the Virtual PC images in to CD / DVD ROM to restore them later without the cumbersome process of reinstallation.

The Way Virtual Machines Work

Virtual Machines create a huge single file per Operating System, and occasionally a couple of more for logs and configurations records. These files were saved in the specific directory, which you specified during creating your virtual machines. The huge single file created for Virtual Hard Disks and its size grows as more and more applications added in the virtual machines. Immediately after a clean install of operating system and installation of some specific applications that you think necessary in your virtual machine, you can back it up in a safe location. The backup Virtual PC can be restored easily later in case your virtual machine goes haywire.

Backup Virtual Machines

You back up your data and everything else that matters. Why not Virtual PCs? Create back up of your Virtual Machines by simply copying all the contents from the virtual machine directory that you specified during its creation to another safe location. You can back up your virtual machine in the same hard disk to a different directory or to any other backup media, for example, in 750 MB Zip drive, but the better option is to backup in CD / DVD ROM so that it will get stored permanently and you can carry your Virtual PCs anywhere with you. CDs / DVDs are extremely handy!

Before you start backing up your virtual PC, here are some handy tips that can ease out some pain off your neck while handling Virtual PCs.

Suspend, not Shut Off

Unless extremely required otherwise, always suspend your Virtual PC instead of shutting it off. This way, you will get your Virtual PC in Instant ON position always. Further, the applications that you want to run always must be running while suspending the machine. BACK UP the suspended Virtual PC and not the shut off Virtual PC for better productivity. Make sure that after the Virtual PC is suspended or its state is saved, close the application that simulate Virtual PCs so that the files which are still in use may be finally updated and ready to backup without errors.

Finally, Burn it Down

Files for Different Virtual PCs are different and variable in size. Virtual PC’s file size grows as you add more and more stuffs and applications in that Virtual PC. For Virtual PCs having Windows9x operating system with a few applications installed, file size may be any where between 200 MB to as high as 600 MB. Virtual PCs having file size up to 700 MB can be stored in CDR media having capacity of 700 MB. However, if you are having file size more than this limit, (Several hundred MB for Linux and Newer Version of Windows) you can use DVDR. You can also split the single large file in to several small files through file splitting utility like Winsplit so that the small files can be easily fit in CDR. Split files can be joined back in to one at the time of restoring Virtual PC.

Restoring the Virtual PCs

Your backed up Virtual PCs cannot run directly through CD / DVD media. You have to copy the content of CD / DVD back to your computer’s hard disk to be able to run the back up Virtual PC. This is because, the files of Virtual PC that simulate the virtual hard drive in the computer must have write capability. If you have earlier split up a Virtual PC’s large file in to several, then join them back in to single. Make sure that all files must reside in the same directory structure as you have copied earlier. Now you can run your retrieved Virtual PC in no time. Immediately after burning the CD / DVD, always check that whether your Virtual PC is running flawlessly the way you want after restoring it from CD / DVD.

Thus you can create Virtual PC with Operating System and all essential applications preinstalled, all in running state, within a couple of minutes without the complex and lengthy process of reinstallation. You can play with it and discard it if it gets slightest of error, since you have the necessary CD / DVD ready to restore Fresh Virtual PC, thousands of time, if you need.

Screenshot Description:

FigureA Through Virtual PCs, in a compatible Operating System, many other Operating Systems could be installed and run without the need to reboot the computer even once.

FigureB Connectix Virtual PC creates a single large file for its Virtual PC.

FigureC VMware creates a couple of other files for its Virtual PC in addition to a large file for its Virtual Hard Disk.

FigureD VMware Workstation suspends virtual machine that can be resumed instantly without going with the time consuming boot process.

FigureE Connectix Virtual PC gives you the option to save Virtual PC state that is similar to suspend mode so that Virtual PCs start up instantly.

FigureF Open existing virtual machine, point to the directory where you have copied back the Virtual PC files from CD / DVD to your hard disk, and select appropriate hard disk image to make on instantly the Virtual PC.

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