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VMware server backups

Posted on 2008-06-11
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Last Modified: 2013-12-01
Is it possible to backup the running VMs (image backups) using Veritas Backup Exec 11 running on a VMware Server (free version)?  Is this anything more than the virtual hard disk and config files using the open file agent?
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Question by:ENTPF
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LVL 18

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larstr earned 1000 total points
ID: 21766488
The safest method to take an image backup is to create a script that shutdowns the VM before the backuo starts and powers it on afterwards. You can also use suspend/resume of the virtual machine instead if you want.

This because if you take a snapshot of a running VM in VMware Server you wont be able to commit it without powering off the VM (like you can on ESX).

There are still some backup scripts that try to take advantage of LVM snapshots (on linux) and Shadow Copy (windows), but these image backups are not as reliable and the image files will be in an inconsistent state.

Linux: http://computing.dwighthubbard.info/index.php/software/vmware-server-backup/
Windows: http://communities.vmware.com/message/809422

The open file option for BE is probably also using the Shadow Copy service.

Good luck!

Lars
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by:jfields71
jfields71 earned 1000 total points
ID: 21770494
See this also: http://4sysops.com/archives/life-backup-of-a-virtual-machine-on-vmware-server-with-symantec-backup-exec-using-the-open-file-option/

As larst mentioned, the backups are crash consistent when backed up in this manner.  Many people disagree whether this is a suitable backup.  I think it is fine, as long as you are using file level backups to backup your critical files inside the VMs.  This gives you image and file level backups.  Two backups are better than one. :)  Each OS has different tolerances for having the power cord pulled when running.  Roughly, this is what the VM thinks happened when you restore from a crash consistent backup.

I highly recommend using the conventional approach with VMware Server and putting a BE agent in each VM.  
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Expert Comment

by:netstaff
ID: 21806382
The only way to backup the vmdk's while the machine is running is to use vmware consolidated backups. With this vmware provides scripts that create snapshots of the disks and mounts those snaps to a different location and then backs up from that location allowing the vmdk's to backup without shutting the machine down.

without this you will need to shut the box down and then backup the files with whatever backup software you use.

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LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:larstr
ID: 21806462
Netstaff,
ENTPF is using the free VMware Server and VCB is not available there.

Lars
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