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Code42 Support

Back up virtual machines and separate boot partitions

Applies to:
  • CrashPlan for Small Business (Mac only)
  • CrashPlan PROe


Virtual machines (VMs) and separate boot partitions allow you to run an additional operating system on your computer. This article highlights best practices for backing up virtual machines or separate boot partitions with CrashPlan.


Common applications that create virtual machines or boot partitions include:

  • VMware
  • Parallels
  • Boot Camp
  • VirtualBox
  • Hyper-V

CrashPlan can back up the files within these virtual machine or boot partitions. Alternatively, you can back up an image of the additional operating system. Both methods require special considerations to back up effectively.

Do not use UNC file paths
The CrashPlan app does not support backups of UNC file paths (such as //SERVERNAME/Users/). If you include UNC paths in the backup file selection, the files appear to back up properly, but those files cannot be restored.

File selections must use an absolute path with a drive letter (such as C:/Users/) to make sure the files are backed up and restorable. 

Back up files within a virtual machine or boot partition

We recommend installing an instance of the CrashPlan app inside the virtual machine or boot partition. This provides individual file backup and real-time backup support for those files. Alternatively, you could copy files from the virtual machine to an external drive, and back up the external drive from your primary operating system.



  • What to back up: We don't recommend backing up operating system or application files.
  • Licensing: Installing CrashPlan within a virtual machine requires a license if you want to back up to the Code42 cloud. CrashPlan for Home users may apply their family subscription, add an individual subscription license, or use the free version of CrashPlan for Home to back up to local computers and drives.

Back up a virtual machine

Alternatively, you may wish to archive a virtual machine to use as a template for future deployments. However, this is similar to backing up operating system and application files, whereas CrashPlan is designed for backing up personal files. If you choose to use CrashPlan to back up your virtual machine, there are several technical details to consider when choosing how and what to back up.

Disk images and exports

A disk image of a virtual machine contains all of the boot information and operating system files necessary to re-deploy the virtual machine. Similarly, some virtualization software allows you to export a virtual machine to a single file. You may choose to back up disk images and exports with CrashPlan; however, consider the following:

  • Manual process: Creating the image or export itself is typically a manual process that varies based on your virtualization software.
  • File protection: Because creating an image or export is a manual process, files within the VM are not continuously protected.
  • File versions: Files are not backed up individually. To restore any files from within the virtual machine, you must restore the entire virtual image or export.
  • Open files: If the image is open and constantly being written to, it may be difficult to back up all of the data needed to reliably restore these files.
Non-Code42 products
Our Customer Champion team cannot provide direct assistance with backing up and restoring virtual machine snapshots, disks, disk images, or exports. Consult your virtualization software manufacture's documentation for further information and considerations on backing up virtual machines.

Exported virtual machines or disk images are typically large files and may require special considerations if you decide to back them up.


Snapshots are designed for short term use as a way of returning a virtual machine to a previous state. We do not recommend backing up snapshots. Snapshots are typically created as differential files that only capture what changed since the last time a snapshot was created. A snapshot must be merged with the virtual hard disk and all previous snapshots to be re-deployed successfully.

If you know where your virtual machine software stores your virtual disk and snapshot files, it is possible to back these files up with CrashPlan. Consult your virtualization software to determine whether or not it is possible to restore a VM using the backups of your snapshot files in combination with the virtual disk file.