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VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
MVE^2, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2017-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert 2018-2011 27 years of experience.
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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18 Comments
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:Iekos
Superb guide..

Thank you
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LVL 127

Author Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
@lekos Thanks
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
As far as paid solutions for paid esxi hosts with a deduplicated data store, do you have any thoughts on veeam, vmware data recovery, Acronis vmprotect? Am I forgetting any?
The pricing and features seem so similar without any real world experience.
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:lucius_the
@aarontomosky: I've tried I think all of above, before reading this article. I would suggest the http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760. Payed solutions are somewhat pricy, and I didn't get a feeling it will do much more then this script does.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
@aarontomosky: Sorry, I never saw this post.

VMware Data Recovery offers fanastic DeDupe. But is limited to how many servers and size of repo.

Veeam is great for DeDeupe and Replication.

@lucius_the The scripts provide no restore! No replication!
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by:lucius_the
@hanccocka: Essentially, you are right, yes. but you can easily recover by simply copying the files back to the datastore (using the datastore browser or the free Veeam FastSCP copy tool) on the recovered host, or any other host, then adding the VM to the inventory and powering up. It's really super simple to recover.
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LVL 127

Author Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Experts can, but many Organisations perfer to use non-scripted solutions, and commercial products for their DR, rather than open source, it does not matter about the cost, if there is a Cost Benefit.
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LVL 127

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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
@lucius_the: you can!

but you would be surprised at those they cannot!
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:lucius_the
@hanccocka: I agree. It entirely depends on who is managing it later on.
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LVL 40

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
I'm running the trial of vmwaredr 2.0 now, super easy. Whole vm restore is really easy, dedupe datastore is quick and small. File recovery requires a vm with an app installed which is kinda weird but not terrible.

It was so simple I think il just go with it. I may check out Acronis at some point since I use it already for imaging laptops, but Acronis isn't all that stable in my opinion. They keep coming out with new versions burnout really fixing the tiny bugs with update failures and services failing to start.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Stick with vDR, Acronis years away at present!
0
 

Expert Comment

by:rkneal
don't forget trilead for vmware backups been using it for a while and works great.
about 1/3 price of Veeam and have used it to restore at least 3-4 times and worked perfectly.
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LVL 127

Author Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Thanks for your feedback. Veeam was inexpensive when first launched, but has gradually got more expensive!

When I wrote the Article Trilead was not popular, I need to write an updated Article, because there are now newer products and contenders for the VMware Backup Title!
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Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
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.
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LVL 127

Author Comment

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
@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!
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Expert Comment

by:rkneal
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.
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Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
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 ;)
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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Teach the user how to rename, unmount, delete and upgrade VMFS datastores. Open vSphere Web Client: Rename VMFS and NFS datastores: Upgrade VMFS-3 volume to VMFS-5: Unmount VMFS datastore: Delete a VMFS datastore:
Teach the user how to edit .vmx files to add advanced configuration options Open vSphere Web Client: Edit Settings for a VM: Choose VM Options -> Advanced: Add Configuration Parameters:

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