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HOW TO: Backup (Export) and Restore (Import) virtual machines to VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 for FREE

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
MVE^2, Expert of the Year 2016-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2016,2013-2012 VMware vExpert 2016-2011 27 years of experience.
In my previous 26 VMware Articles, most featured Intermediate VMware Topics. My next series of articles will concentrate on topics for the VMware Novice; this is the tenth article in this series.

If you would like to read the other articles in this series,  they are listed here for your convenience.  

During this series of articles VMware released VMware vSphere 5.5 and VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.5. These articles are also applicable to VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.x and 5.5. For consistency, I have used VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.1 through this series.

Part 1: HOW TO: Install and Configure VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1)

Part 2: HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) using the vSphere Client

Part 3: HOW TO: Create an ISO CD-ROM/DVD-ROM image (*.iso), and MD5 checksum signature, for use with VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1)

Part 4: HOW TO: Upload an ISO CD-ROM/DVD-ROM image to a VMware datastore for use with VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) using the vSphere Client, and checking its MD5 checksum signature is correct.

Part 5: HOW TO: Enable SSH Remote Access on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1)

Part 6: HOW TO: Create your first Linux Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server

Part 7: HOW TO: Create your first Windows Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server

Part 8: HOW TO: Install VMware Tools for Windows on a VMware Windows virtual machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server

Part 9: HOW TO: Install VMware Tools for Linux on a VMware Linux virtual machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server

In this series of basic VMware articles for the Novice, I'll be showing you the basic VMware skills required to install, configure and deploy virtual machines using VMware's FREE VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi).

If you have been following this series, in Part 6: HOW TO: Create your first Linux Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server, we created our first Linux virtual machine called "My First Linux VM" , in Part 7: HOW TO: Create your first Windows Virtual Machine on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server we created our first Microsoft Windows virtual machine called "My First Windows VM".  Later in this tutorial we will using these virtual machines to backup and restore. This procedure can be used to backup and restore any virtual machine hosted on VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) Host Server.

In this article we will show you HOW TO: Backup (Export) and Restore (Import) virtual machines to VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 for FREE. This procedure can be followed to backup (export) and restore (import) any virtual machine hosted on the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 host server.

1. Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) or vSphere vCenter Server using the vSphere Client

Please refer to my EE article on HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) using the vSphere Client
VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.1 InventoryClick the Inventory icon.
Inventory - both virtual machines are powered offThis procedure can only backup (export) the virtual machines, when the virtual machine is powered off. So ensure that the virtual machines are powered off, before you backup (export) the virtual machines.

2. Virtual Machine Backup (Export) of My First Windows VM to OVF

My First Windows VM selectedSelect the virtual machine to backup (export) in the virtual machine inventory. In this step we will select "My First Windows VM". We will be using the Export function to backup the virtual machine. The Export function will backup the entire virtual machine to an OVF or OVA file. An OVF/OVA file is an Open Virtualization Format,  OVF/OVA is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual machines, sometimes referred to as virtual appliances. These files can also be restored to other Hypervisors e.g. Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle Virtualbox.
Export My First Windows VMOn the ribbon bar, select File > Export > Export OVF Template. If this option is not available or grayed out, check the virtual machine is not powered on.

HANCOCK's TOP TIP Ensure that the virtual machine is disconnected from floppy drives, floppy drives images, disconnected from CD-ROMs and CD-ROM isos images before completing the backup (export). If left connected the backup (export) will also try and export the floppy drive, or CD-ROM iso image the virtual machine is attached to. Sometimes the backup (export) can fail. We have also seen that if you leave the virtual machine connected to an iso, but DO NOT tick the button to export the iso, the OVF will not Import (Restore) causing an OVF Import was cancelled by user error message, it is not obvious what the error is, because it cannot find the iso file to import!
Export OVF TemplateAt the Export OVF Template diaglogue wizard, the default name entered is the name of the virtual machine, I would recommend leaving this as default. Enter a folder/directory on your local machine to store the backup, select OVF, and enter a Description of the Backup. Un-tick include image files attached to floppy and CD/DVD devices in the OVF package. Click OK to proceed with the export (backup).
Exporting My First Windows VMThe Exporting dialogue box will be displayed. Depending upon the size of your virtual machine disk, (vmdk), this can take several minutes to a few hours. It will report how long it will take to export.  In this tutorial "My First Windows VM" is 40GB in size, the operating system currently installed is only taking 8GB of space on the disk and it's reporting 35 minutes to export.
Exporting My First Windows VM 13 percent complete
The following dialogue will be displayed when the export (backup) has been completed.
Exporting My First Windows VM completed

3. Virtual Machine Backup (Export) of My First Linux VM to OVA

Repeat Step 2 above, but select and Export (backup) "My First Linux VM", but this time select OVA as the Export format.
Exporting My First Linux VMExporting My First Windows VM 1 percent completed

4. Examination of the exported (backup) files in the backup folder

select the backup folder on the local workstation, in this tutorial it was c:\tmp
Backup folder contentsContents of My First Windows VM folderYou will notice that the OVF backup or export has created a folder called "My First Windows VM", This contains three files,

My First Windows VM.mf
My First Windows VM.ovf
My First Windows VM.vmdk

all these files are required for a successful restore.

You will also notice that the OVA backup or export has created a single file called "My First Linux VM.ova", This is a compressed archive file, which contains similar files to the above, but compressed and stored as a single backup file.

These OVF and OVA files can be successfully copied to a USB flash drive or external hard drive for transport, and imported (restored) to a different Host server.

HANCOCK's TOP TIP Please ensure you have tested and restored your virtual machine from an OVF or OVA file before deleting your virtual machine from the host server. Many VMware Administrators, delete their virtual machines  before checking they have a backup that can be successfully restored. See step 5 below.

5. Virtual Machine Restore (Import) of My First Windows VM from an OVF

Deploy OVF TemplateSelect File > Deploy OVF Template
Deploy OVF TemplateBrowse to the location of the stored OVF file on your local workstations disk, in this tutorial this is C:\tmp\My First Windows VM\My First Windows VM.ovf followed by the Next to continue
Review Summary PageReview the summary page and click Next to continue
Enter nameEnter a new, different name for the virtual machine inventory name, all virtual machines in the VMware Hypervisor inventory must be unique. This is not the operating system hostname, it could be the same name as the operating system hostname, this is just a cosmetic name for the inventory. In this tutorial I have entered the name My First Windows VM_Restored Click Next to continue.
Select datastore and disk provisioning type.Select a valid datastore, we only have a single datastore, datastore1, and select Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed, we will discuss these provisioning formats in a later article. Click Next to continue.
Select Finish to DeployAt the Ready to Complete Summary Page, review the Summary information, and click Finish.
Deploy Virtual ,machine...The virtual machine will start to be imported, this can take a few minutes to many hours depending upon the size of the virtual machine.
7 minutes remaining7 minutes remaining until restore (import complete)
Deploy OVF Template Complete Click CloseClick Close when the Deployment Completed Successfully is displayed. The virtual machine  My First Windows VM_Restored  has been successfully restored, and will be listed in the inventory.

6. Virtual Machine Restore (Import) of My First Linux VM from an OVA

Repeat Step 5 above, but select and Import (restore) "My First Linux VM", but this time select the "My First Linux VM.ova" file when browsing and selecting the OVF template to import (restore).
3 minutes to restore3 minutes to restore
Restores CompleteRestores (Imports) completed successfully, all the virtual machines are shown in the inventory.

Congratulations, you have successfully completed a Backup (Export) and Restore (Import) of Windows and Linux virtual machines to VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1

If you require scheduled backup and restore, or the ability to backup virtual machines which are powered on, we would recommend you trial the following commercial backup products.

These are listed in alphabetical order. Please note you will need a Licensed version of  VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 to be able to use any of the following products. By Licensed,  - you have to have purchased a License from VMware, the most basic License is called VMware vSphere Essentials Kit. Registering for FREE and obtaining a license, does not activate the storage APIs, which are required by commercial backup software.

 Please see my Experts Exchange article for further details VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide.

Acronis Backup & Recovery® 11 Virtual Edition - Virtual Machine Backup & Recovery Solutions

Dell AppAssure - Data Protection | Backup and Recovery Solutions

NAKIVO Backup & Replication for VMware

StorageCraft ShadowProtect Server

Symantec Business Backup - Data Protection, Data Restore

Trilead VM explorer

Unitrends - Unitrends: All-in-One Data Backup Solutions and Disaster Recovery

Veeam Backup & Replication v7

VMware vSphere Data Protection

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Thank you for reading my article, please leave valuable feedback. If you liked my VMware article and would like to see more Articles from me, please click the Yes button near the: Was this article helpful? at the bottom of this article just below and to the right of this information. Thank You. Do not forget if you have a question about this article or another VMware, Virtualisation, Windows Server 2012 question, why not post a Question for me and the other Experts Exchange Experts in the VMware, Virtualisation, Windows 2008, Windows 2012 Zones. I look forward to hearing from you. - Andy :- twitter @einsteinagogo
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7 Comments
 
LVL 119

Author Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
No problems.
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Expert Comment

by:IT_Group1
Very good, thanks
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LVL 119

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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
@IT_Group1

Many Thanks
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Enterprise Mobility and BYOD For Dummies

Like “For Dummies” books, you can read this in whatever order you choose and learn about mobility and BYOD; and how to put a competitive mobile infrastructure in place. Developed for SMBs and large enterprises alike, you will find helpful use cases, planning, and implementation.

 
LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:Peter Wilson
Great article! Will the process of exporting disrupt users working on the VM?
0
 
LVL 119

Author Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
yes, because you need to turn OFF the VM before Export!!!!

That might cause a disruption to users working on the VM
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LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:Diverse IT
Nice article. +1
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Expert Comment

by:Peter Wilson
Thx...I missed that in the article. :)
0

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