VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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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
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Updated:
VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

If you have a licensed version of ESX/ESXi, (paid for license) you could purchase the following third party applications to perform backups. If you do not have a licensed version of ESX/ESXi, your options are limited, because a non-licensed (paid for) version does not give access to the licensed APIs for third party products to function. You will there for need at least a Standard license for ESX/ESXi for the following products listed in 1 to 3 below.

1. Veeam Backup and Replication v5 - very popular, won many awards at VMworld 2010

Download a trial here - http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-backup.html

2. Quest Vizioncore Vranger Pro - the first VM backup product with a good pedigree.

Download a trial here - http://vizioncore.com/product/vRangerPro

3. PHD Virtual Backup - very fast backup technology, using virtual applicance.

Download a trial here - http://www.phdvirtual.com/phd-vb-51-vmware-vsphere

4. VMware Data Recovery - supports dedupe, integrated with vCenter - maybe included with your current VMware License (available in vSphere Enterprise Plus, Advanced, and Essentials Plus Editions. VMware Data Recovery can also be purchased a la carte with vSphere Standard Edition.)

http://www.vmware.com/products/data-recovery/overview.html

Free (download) alternatives for backing up VMs

5. ghettoVCB

http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760 ((Will work on FREE ESXi, no licensed required.)

(can be performed whilst the virtual machine is live or powered on)

6. ghettoVCBg2  

http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-9843 (needs licensed version of ESX/ESXi)

(can be performed whilst the virtual machine is live or powered on)


7. Scripts and NFS backup

http://communities.vmware.com/message/1029047 (Will work on FREE ESXi, no licensed required.)
(can be performed whilst the virtual machine is live or powered on)

8. VMware Converter Standalone 4.3

http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/datacenter_downloads/vmware_vcenter_converter_standalone/4_0

VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.x Documentation

http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/converter_pubs.html

VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.3 User Guide
http://www.vmware.com/pdf/convsa_43_guide.pdf

With VMware Converter you can convert and copy a Virtual Machine to another datastore, this advantage is you can do this whilst the virtual machine is Online or Powered-Up.

9. Veeam FastSCP

Free download here http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esxi-fastscp.html

Fast Virtual Machine / File Transfer. Faster than WinSCP and other SCP-based tools as it uses full network capacity. The Veeam FastSCP engine also features traffic compression and empty block removal for best file copy performance.

You can use FastSCP to connect to the ESX/ESXi server, and download the entire virtual machine folder/directory to the current workstation or server, where yov've connected from. You must ensure that the virtual machines are powered off to complete this operation.

10. Datastore browser

The datastore browser is included in the vSphere GUI Client, and enables you access to the datastore, virtual machines are stored on. You can simple use the cut and paste, or download/upload options to backup and restore virtual machines. Again to copy a virtual machine, the virtual machine must be powered off.

Restoring with options 9 and 10, above, you must add the Virtual Machine manually to the inventory, by selecting the vmx file in the datastore browser, right click on the *.vmx file, and select "Add to Inventory".

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 (18)

Aaron TomoskyDirector, SD-WAN Solutions
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Commented:
something to add to your next article could be a bigger picture look at vmware backups. My setup is probably similar to a lot of smaller setups in that I have one san and a few esxi boxes. So my issue was where to put the vmwaredr virtual machine and backup datastore? My choices were to get a raid card recognized by esxi, or make another san. Then I found this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816111038
It's a $100 external enclosure that I could set to raid 1 (mirror) and just connect the 1 eSata port so esxi sees one drive. I made a datastore on it and put the vmwaredr and backup datastore on there. That way if my san fails or the machine attached to the external fails, I can just attach it to another esxi box.

Anyway, this isn't the best solution for everyone and if you have multiple sans then its much easier, but deciding where to put your backup vm and backup datastore is something to think about.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Fellow
Expert of the Year 2017

Author

Commented:
@aarontomosky: Thanks for feedback.

It's now common place to move away from VMware Snapshot based backups, and use SAN Snapshots, DeDupe and replication!!!! (we've been using this since 2004!). No requirement for ANY third party backup software, but food for thought for next article!

Commented:
Another thing to add that may or may not be relevant to all backing up esxi.

we had great backups of all VM's with replication using trilead software, etc, but did not backup the actual esxi 5.0 configuration. So when we did the 5.1 upgrade it was a disaster and it ruined the esxi config.  It wasn't a huge ordeal because we are small (3 servers), but having to reconfigure all the data stores, restore all the vm's took quite a long time.  backing up the esxi configuration is supposed to be easier with 5.1 (along with upgrades using upgrade manager), but better make sure back it up before perform 5.0 upgrade to 5.1.

Also, the e1000 drivers for intel nic cards got messed up with 5.1 upgrade, have to load up 5.0 drivers to get the network to work.   known issue, been fighting for days.  We Should have waited until 5.1 bug fixes came out and stuck with 5.0 update 1.
Aaron TomoskyDirector, SD-WAN Solutions
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Commented:
I actually do use san snapshots (freebsd zfs san but compression only, not dedupe), and replicate to a second san as backup. However the problem is that until esxi supports nfs4 and subfolder mounts, I put all my vms into one file system as an nfs share. So vmwaredr allows me to do individual vm restores easily. I know I could do iscsi mounts and a lun for each vm, but the nfs way works great and is so easy to setup and maintain.

I also know that I can restore individual virtual machines out of the zfs snapshots, but thats more of a backup of my backup ;)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Fellow
Expert of the Year 2017

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