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VMware ESX OS backups

Posted on 2007-03-24
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Background info:
Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers with RAID1 146GB.
Storage for VM's is on the SAN.

Is there a way to backup a local installation of VMware ESX server?

Example:
Install Symantec Backup Exec on the ESX server? Is that even possible?
Or boot from SAN and get rid of the RAID1.


Wow.....Experts Exchange hasn't created a section for VMware yet......
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Question by:romlopez
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12 Comments
 
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by:groetting
groetting earned 100 total points
ID: 18786233
You want to backup the ESX itself? Not any of the VM`S? And you can not install backup exec on the esx. Raid 1 gives you a little bit of safety against disasters though. This article http://www.vmware.com/pdf/esx_backup_guide.pdf gives you a bit of info regarding whats supported or not for backuping the vms. Also, check here: http://www.virtualization.info/2004/03/vmware-esx-server-backup-script.html
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Author Comment

by:romlopez
ID: 18786259
I have no problems on backing up the VM's. (VM's are stored on SAN + backup exec)
But my question is: Can the ESX server be backed up?
I will be doing SAN snapshots so booting from SAN is my only option.

Any other options available?
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Expert Comment

by:groetting
ID: 18786461
Ive seen discussions like this, here is one for instance http://www.vmware.com/community/thread.jspa?messageID=600201 they are suggesting that you script the installation so if you need to get it up and running in a hurry you just run your scripts. Here is another link that gives you a recipe on backuping the esx configuration itself http://www.jasemccarty.com/blog/2006/03/vmware-backing-up-your-esx.html
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by:
Duncan Meyers earned 200 total points
ID: 18787577
Why bother? You can rebuild an ESX server from the CD in 30 minutes, and if you have VirtualCentre, then the ESX box picks up a lot of it's config from VC. You'll then need to recreate the virtual switches and scan the SAN for LUNs and VMFS partitions. For an average ESX box, you can rebuild it to a state ready for VMs in under 45 minutes. Other configuration such as NTP or AD integration can be sorted out once the crisis i over.

If your ESX server is a standalone box, then you just have to recreate the VMs - a quick job if there is only a small number. If your ESX server is part of a farm managed by VC, then the rebuilt ESX server learns about the running VMs from VC.
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Expert Comment

by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 18787587
I should note that my remarks apply to ESX Server 3.0.x. ESX Server 2.5.x is a completely different kettle of fish. That you *do* need to back up as the VM config files are on the ESX server.
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by:romlopez
ID: 18793734
I believe that is the response I was looking for meyersd.
If it is not too much trouble can you post a link to backup your statement?

I haven't used VirtualCenter yet, we will purchase it though and I will go to training.

Can you install backup exec on a ESX server? (Not the VM's)
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by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 18796799
>If it is not too much trouble can you post a link to backup your statement?
www.meyersd's_head.com.au.  :-)

I've done loads of ESX implementations and looked carefully into whether or not its worth backing up the service console - and my conclusion is that it is faster and more efficient to document your environment carefully and simply not back up the ESX server.

>Can you install backup exec on a ESX server? (Not the VM's)
No. Definitely not supported. I'm very wary of installing anything that is not directly VMware-related on the service console at all - such as management agents and the like. Keep the service console clean and lean - and you'll avoid having to troubleshoot issues caused by flaky vendor software.
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Author Comment

by:romlopez
ID: 18800601
Last question:
Should the ESX servers boot from local RAID1 or from SAN?
If we boot from SAN we save a couple of hundreds.

Thank you for your feedback.
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Expert Comment

by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 18805140
I prefer to boot locally off local RAID 1. It keeps the service console load off the SAN.

It also eases troubleshooting if you have SAN connectivity issues. And getting boot from SAN to behave can be tricky.
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Author Comment

by:romlopez
ID: 19228470
There, thanks for your help!
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Expert Comment

by:Duncan Meyers
ID: 19229383
No worries. Glad I could help!
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