Parallels 6: The Shining (Upgrade) Path
Dear Leader, please illuminate our shining upgrade path to Parallels 6.
As I alluded in my post yesterday, I’ve been using Parallels for quite a while – since version 2 as I recall. I was quite keen back in the day, so I always signed up for their beta programme. At the time I was working for a Windows™ software developer (prepress and workflow applications) and had the use of a pretty sweet IBM ThinkPad so my interest in virtualization was more theoretical than practical.
My company developed software for the graphic arts market, and I repeatedly proposed we build Mac versions to access a larger market. But, our programmers had no experience with Objective C, so the bosses shied away from anything to do with that “other” OS. Sensing a brick wall, I suggested we look at Virtual Machines as a way to move our product onto the Mac desktop. Thus began my computer-generated journey down the road to cross-platform-land!
So, as I said earlier… I’ve installed and used a lot of beta versions of Parallels. Back in the Version 3 beta days, I got burned often as subsequent builds adversely affected (read: trashed) my virtual machines. And the early days of Boot Camp support were painful to say the least. We all know how much time it takes to build a Boot Camp partition or Virtual Machine. Windows™ installs can take hours, not to mention the time it takes install and register your software.
As I painstakingly tried to recover and rebuild my bruised VMs, I created a process for upgrading to subsequent builds of Parallels that minimized the potential for problems during the beta phase. The procedure worked so well, that I continue the practice to this day – even with stable, release versions of Parallels.
If this is your initial installation of Parallels and you’re building your first virtual machine, read no further – just go ahead and do it (but bookmark this article for future upgrades). If you’ve been using previous versions of Parallels and have built multiple VMs, read on…
- Backup your Virtual Machines: Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t take this simple precaution. Just drag a copy of your VM(s) over to another drive. If you make it to Step 12, you’ll be glad you did.
UPDATE: SoftCircus reader Jon pointed out that not everyone knows where the VMs are kept (thanks Jon), so here goes… If you used the default location when you first installed Parallels, follow this path… [your user account] > Documents > Parallels > [your VM name].pvm. If you chose another location when you installed Parallels and don’t remember where it is, just do a search for .pvm and your VM(s) should appear. Just copy them over to another drive.
- Make sure your Mac OS is up to date. Apple Software Update will do this for you.
- Repair your permissions – Before any major software install it’s always a good idea to use Apple’s Disk Utility to repair the permissions on your boot drive.
- DiskWarrior users – It can’t hurt to rebuild your directories.
- Do all the usual OS X housekeeping such as deleting caches, etc. I use Mac OS X Cocktail for this. They have a free trial version.
- Mount the Parallels disk image of the version you already have installed. You should have kept this somewhere if you’ve been a good little geek like me.
- Use the Uninstaller from that disk image. Its a good idea (and often your only option) to use the uninstaller that came with the version you already have installed. Go ahead and remove your settings as well, they’re really easy to setup again. Don’t worry about your Virtual Machines, the uninstall process doesn’t touch them. Basically, I like to leave NO TRACE of the previous install. The only information that will survive this is your registration/license info. This means that if you’re simply upgrading within the release (version 5 to 5.1 for example) you won’t have to enter your license key or re-activate your install. If you’re going from v5 to v6, you’ll need a new license key anyways.
- Keep the installer disk image from your last install in case you want to de-migrate. (is that a word?)
- Mount the NEW installer disk image and install the next version of Parallels.
- Once installed, open each of your Virtual Machines, let Parallels update them (this is a one way trip, which is why we back them up, mmm-kay?) and install the new version of Parallels Tools if it doesn’t do so automatically.
- After your VM is updated, I would suggest compressing your VM as well. (On the Mac Parallels Menu Bar go to Virtual Machine > Compress). This purges your VM of extraneous crap and tidies up your Windows™.
- If you feel the need to roll it back to a previous version, follow the same procedure in reverse order to de-migtrate (after all, you’ve got your Virtual Machine back-up you made in step 1, right?).
I know, this sounds like a lot of steps and it’s far more than Parallels recommends you do but I can honestly say that I haven’t had a SINGLE problem with botched installs, corrupted virtual machines or rolling back a version since implementing this procedure. Farm-boy logic says the extra 5 minutes this all takes is time well spent if it saves a single VM!
I’d be interested in hearing from other Parallels users about their upgrade experiences…
[UPDATE: Our man Patrick has been running betas of Parallels 6 for a while now and will be blogging about his planned install of the full release version this weekend.]