It is probably a few years too late to predict virtualisation (“virtual” computers running as programs on physical machines) as the way of the future but I am making the most of it today. I recently had a nasty server crash and am bringing things back online but discovered that one of the MySQL databases wasn’t backed up. Not to worry as I could access the files from the original disk but how to safely spin them back up without risking other parts of the machine going funny?
I had already replaced the server with a virtual machine, so I took a snapshot of it, went ahead with the rescue operation and then, once I had saved a proper back up of the missing data, rolled back to the original snapshot. It is still a bit nerve-wracking performing operations like this but much less so when you know that the worst case is taking a wrong step and losing a few minutes rather than the risk of losing data and probably having to rebuild a whole operating system environment from scratch.