How to Backup an ESXi installation on an USB Flash Drive or SD card, for security or redundancy.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
CERTIFIED EXPERT
EE Fellow, 2xMVE, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2018-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert Pro, vExpert 2020-2011
Published:
How to Backup ESXi installation on a USB flash drive or SD card.

Requirements

1. A valid ESXi installation on a USB flash drive or SD card.
2. A copy of Winimage for Windows.
3. A Windows computer.
4. Optional Blank DVD for making backup.
5. Optional USB flash drive or SD card for flash backup.

1. Download Winimage from the Internet


Using your internet browser, Internet Explorer or Mozilla, download a copy of Winimage from http://www.winimage.com/download.htm.

WinImage is a shareware product. You may copy, distribute, and try it for free, but if you use for longer than the evaluation period, you must register. You will receive a valid license, a registration code and the latest release.

2. Install Winimage


Install Winimage as per the vendors instructions on your Windows computer you need to backup the USB flash drive or SD card.

3. Insert the ESXi USB flash drive or in USB port on computer


Insert the ESXi USB flash drive or SD card inserted in a card reader into the computer you have installed Winimage on.

4. Start Winimage


 Winimage Startup
Start Winimage from the Start Menu on your Windows computer.

5. From the disk menu


 Create Virtual Hard Disk
From the disk menu, in Winimage, select Creating Virtual Hard Disk Image from Physical Drive.

6. Select the USB flash drive or SD card


See picture below

Select a physical drive in the list
Select the USB flash drive or SD card, from the list, in this example, I'm using a Flash LUXIO USB flash drive.

7. Select Create Fixed Size Virtual Hard Disk


 Select usb flash drive
Select the Fixed Size Virtual Hard Disk, ensure there is a dot in this selection. This ensures that the saved backup image is exactly the same size as the flash drive, you are copying example 2GB for a 2GB USB flash drive, 4GB fort a 4GB flash drive.

8. Click OK


Click OK

9. Specify a disk location and select Save


 Select save location
Once you have specified a location, a progress bar will continue on screen showing the progress of the copy.

 Progress Bar

10. Partiton to connect to


When prompted to connect to partition, click okay and Exit Winimage

11. The USB flash drive or SD contents will be saved as a complete image.


The contents will be saved to disk.

12. Complete.


The operation is complete and you can exist Winimage, and Safely remove your USB flash drives or SD cards, from the computer, by selecting the Safely remove hardware icon, in the system Smart tray.

13. Backup to DVD


If you image size is less than the size of a DVD (4.5GB), I also backup the USB/SD card installation image to a DVD, and if you have a spare USB flash drive, it doesn't hurt writing the contens to another USB flash drive or SD card. (and make sure you label with date, time, and version and build of ESX, and what server it is for!)

Thank you for reading my article, please leave valuable feedback.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
CERTIFIED EXPERT
EE Fellow, 2xMVE, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2018-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert Pro, vExpert 2020-2011

Comments (13)

found a USB drive image tool that actually works. See http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/

Commented:
WinImage can't write/restore to target USB key. So,
I used another USB key to restore the http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/  backup of my 'New_Esxi_Server' boot key.

I formated the duplicate target key before proceeding, it was my 'Old_ESXi_Server' boot key.

It seemed to work: Server ESXi booted, but had kept the name of 'Old_ESXi_Server' ... !

How can this be ?

I didn't rename the server booting with this 'duplicate' to check if I could reconnect it in vCenter.

Any thoughts ?
How frequently do you need to do this backup for it to remain current? Is this something you can do once shortly after installing ESXi for the first time, and then rest easy? Or is this something you have to do repeatedly every time you change the configuration of your server (e.g. add a new VM, or edit a setting on the host)?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
CERTIFIED EXPERT
Fellow
Expert of the Year 2017

Author

Commented:
Please post an EE Question.
I would have though that this question would be a relevant follow-up question that anybody reading this article would want to know - after all, your backup is worthless unless you have confidence in the restoration.

In any case, here's the question:
https://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/Q_28239655.html

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