Snapshot salvation: breeze through updates with Parallels Desktop

Have you ever upgraded your development machine only to discover that the update disrupted your workflow? If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’re not alone. We have all been there. Today, I will highlight a common issue that irks developers on a recurring basis, and I will illuminate how Virtualization and Parallels Desktop can provide a fail-safe solution.    

Let’s illustrate this problem with a real-world scenario. Imagine developing a cross-platform Flutter application on a Mac, utilizing Parallels Desktop to run Linux and Windows 11 VMs to test the application. Regular updates must keep the testing environment as close to the end users as possible, even if they sometimes lead to an unanticipated crisis.  

In this case, let’s say the latest update to Visual Studio, installed on Windows 11, introduced a bug that halted the application build. Now you’re stuck with a dysfunctional VM and a build that needs testing.  

So, how do we tackle this predicament?  

Enter the superhero of this story: the Snapshot feature in Parallels Desktop. Much like a photograph captures a moment in time, a snapshot preserves the state of a machine at a specific instant. By creating a snapshot before any updates, we can ensure a safety net. If an update wreaks havoc, revert to the last known good state.    

Post-update, you can test the system. If all’s well, delete the snapshot; if not, revert. Keeping a snapshot of the system post-update can aid in diagnosing and testing potential solutions, enabling a smooth workflow as you effortlessly transition between snapshots.  

However, it’s important to note that snapshots have limitations. Firstly, snapshots work linearly, with each subsequent snapshot capturing the changes from the previous one. Rolling back to an earlier snapshot and running an update won’t affect the last snapshots. Secondly, snapshots occupy storage space; the more snapshots you have, the larger your VM becomes.  

Despite these minor drawbacks, snapshots offer immense flexibility. They can serve as the initial state for a new machine, enabling you to share it without transferring a potentially large image.    

While Parallels Desktop currently supports snapshots for Windows and Linux VMs, in macOS it is only available on Intel Macs. 

Now let’s see how to achieve this on Parallels Desktop Control Center.   

First, right-click on the Virtual Machine you want to create the snapshot on.   

If you do not have any snapshots, the screen will look empty. To create a new snapshot, click on the “New…” button and type in a name and a description (optional) for the snapshot.   

You now have a snapshot, and you can go ahead and make the changes you require. If something goes wrong, you are safe. You can go back to the same screen and select the snapshot before the update, and this will take your machine back to a safe state. It’s like you went back in time.   

To go back to a snapshot is also easy. Select the snapshot you want to revert to and click the “Go To” button. The Virtual Machine will return to that state, keeping the other one.   

You can have as many snapshots as you want and branch them out, even having a snapshot of a snapshot. The only limitation will be the size of the disk. You can also delete (at any time) a snapshot that you do not require anymore. 

In conclusion, the Snapshot feature integrated into Parallels Desktop is a powerful tool that can shield us from the uncertainties of system upgrades, software updates, or package updates during development. Its benefits outweigh the minimal drawbacks, making it a handy, easy-to-manage tool that every developer should have in their arsenal.  

Are you ready to experience “snapshot salvation” yourself?

Get started now with Parallels Desktop 19.