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Best way to make Backup of Running Virtual Machines

Posted on 2008-09-30
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I'm looking for a way to backup 4 Virtual Machines over Night. I just want to copy complete Images to an external Backup-HDD. The whole process should be automatic and i don't want to shutdown the VMs. Setting them on "Standby" would be possible. If possible i don't want to use any or just free third party software.

The VMWare Server is running on Windows Server 2003 64Bit.
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Question by:sam_berlin
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by:BogdanSUA
ID: 22607293
Using Vmware Server 2 (latest version), you can take a snapshot of the VM right before you back up.  You can then copy your VMDK files off to the external HDs.  When the copy job is complete, use the "Remove Snapshot" option, and it will write any changes that have occured back to main VMDK.

Reference page 197 of http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vmserver2.pdf for more info
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by:paulsolov
ID: 22608679
You can use Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server to install on the virtual machines.  It will take images, either full, incremental and image them to a location that you choose.  You can then use the Symantec tool to convert to vmdk or use vmware converter to convert back to a virtual machine.  This does V2V V2P P2P and P2V.  You can download a trial version for a test
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Author Comment

by:sam_berlin
ID: 22612876
Hello Paul and Bogdan,

thanks for your answers. I would prefer Bogdans Solution because it is simple and cost-effective. ;)

Is there a way to automate the process of taking and removing snapshots?

Best Regards,

David
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by:BogdanSUA
ID: 22619731
I think there, but I have to look into it later tonight.
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Accepted Solution

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BogdanSUA earned 250 total points
ID: 22621196
Ok this solution took me a while to cook up, but its solid.

What you need:

You need Vmware Server 2 Windows Version
You need Vmware's VIX API 1.6 for Windows (free download from the VMware Server 2 download section)

What to do:
1. Install VIX, notate the installation directory

2. Add the install location to your system path. On Windows XP for example, choose:
Computer > Properties > Advanced > Environment Variables > System variables > Path > Edit 

First run this command to list your VMs:
3. vmrun.exe -T server -h https://yourVMwareServerNameorIP:8333/sdk -u yourusername -p yourpass list

Notate the output, you will need it in the commands below.

4. You can take a snapshot using a command like the one below.  Fill in your own appropriate variables:
vmrun.exe -T server -h https://yourVMwareServerNameorIP:8333/sdk -u yourusername -p yourpass snapshot "[standard] folder/your-vm-here.vmx"

Hint: Substitute "[standard] folder/your-vm-here.vmx" with your output from step 3.

5. You can delete a snapshot with this command:
vmrun.exe -T server -h https://yourVMwareServerNameorIP:8333/sdk -u yourusername -p yourpass deletesnapshot "[standard] folder/your-vm-here.vmx"

Hint: Substitute "[standard] folder/your-vm-here.vmx" with your output from step 3.

By deleting the snapshot you are committing the changes back to the main VMDK file.  Also you can only have 1 snapshot per VM using vmware server 2.

Also when you run the vmrun command it tends to disconnect any Internet Explorer sessions that are pointed to your VMware Server 2 instance using HTTPS on port 8333.  Workaround is to use http://yourserver:8222 in Internet Explorer.

So as you can see you use these commands in a .cmd file and schedule a task to kick off to snapshot, copy, and delete snapshot.
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