Creating a live copy (snapshot) of a drive whilst it's mounted on a running Virtual Machine

We are happy to announce that our customers are now able to make live copies of their Virtual Machine drives. Here is a quick guide on how to do it.


Guide in 4 easy steps

1. Login

Log into your ElasticHosts account.

ElasticHosts login screen

2. Press Copy

Look up the VM Disk you want to make a copy of. Act surprised.

What? Isn't the copy button inactive (greyed out) when the drive is mounted to a running Virtual Machine?

Haha, not anymore!

Copy button on VM Disk

You will see that the VM Disk's Copy button is very much active and you are free to press it. Then you can select the storage type for the copy.

Select storage type for backup drive

Pick whichever you prefer.

2. Syncing

Yes, you are live syncing!
Virtual Machine disk in live sync

Not much to do while the drives are syncing. You can stare at the progress counter if you want.

3. Unsync

Once the file transfer is complete, you will see the synchronized status description and a link to unsync:

Disks kept in sync after synchronization

This indicates that the file transfers have finished, but that the drives are being kept in sync for a 10 minute grace period. For normal use, you can let the grace period expire, which point the copy will detach itself. However, if you want to detach the copy at a particular instant in time, you can click unsync. Also, if you want to completely guarantee a fully consistent backup, then you can shut down your VM briefly, click unsync, and then start it again - otherwise the backup is a copy of the running VM's drive, so there is a small risk of file corruption for files being written as the copy detaches, just like when the plug is pulled on a physical running machine.

What if your Virtual Machine is mission critical and can't be turned off? Once the sync is completed, press unsync whilst the Virtual Machine is running (or if you don’t, the sync will be broken automatically once the 10 minutes period ends). The state of the copy disk will be exactly the same as the source disk's at the moment you pressed unsync - just if you had pulled the plug on the machine. Most of the time it will be fine, and you'll be able to boot from the copy, but you might want to play it safe, in particular if you've got a database that risks corruption.

Hint: Try to unsync when the Virtual Machine is not actively writing to the source disk (logs and system tools help you).

4. Enjoy!

Gatsby GIF

Last note

We hope you will find the new feature useful. We are not stopping here with the live copy feature: we plan to add backup scheduling as an option. How does that sound?

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