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Can you backup VMs in VMware completely by using Imaging software such as Norton Ghost?

Posted on 2008-10-20
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Can you backup VMs in VMware completely and effectively by using Imaging software such as Norton Ghost, Acronis etc?

I have a feeling this method will not backup the underlying VMware subdirectories and files that support the VM in the Datastore such as .vmx, .vmdks, .nvram, .vmxf etc.

I believe you can backup using Imaging software effectively to the point where you can convert the Ghost Image back to a VM by using VMware tools - but this is not restoring it file by file in the Datastore, but merely converting it back again.

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Question by:klwn
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by:paulsolov
ID: 22756509
You certainly can.  I normally use Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery but Acronis will work just as well.  With either product you can image the virtual machines and then convert to virtual machine using vmware converter.  Symantec BESR also has a built in tool that will convert an image to a vmdk file.  

We have been using imaging as a DR/backup for many customers and it works very well.  This also allows you to do V2P where you have a physical machine that is down, you restore an image to a virtual machine until the hardware can be fixed and than take anohter image to restore back to physical hardware.  Both products support dissimilar hardware

When you convert the image to a virtual machine it will recreate the vmx file without any issues and since you're restoring to "the same" hardware, all the drivers and such are already there since the vmware tools are installed
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by:klwn
ID: 22757003
Thanks for that Paul but my point was that the backup method using tools such as Acronis will not actually backup the underlying VMware file structure in any way shape or form.

Instead you have to rely on converting tools to recreate those underlying files because Acronis and the like will not interpret those files as part of its image - am I right in saying this?
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by:paulsolov
ID: 22757593
They will not backup the file structure but when you use converter to convert the image back to the server it will re-create it.  Just make sure to delete the old VM and convert the image with the same name and it will re-create the vmx file, the drives, etc..  The nice part is that you can resize on the file when you do this as well
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by:klwn
ID: 22757756
OK so I was right in assuming that the Imaging software will not take into account the underlying VMware file structure direct.

We are really looking for a long term backup and archiving solution that can be scheduled to backup both the VMs and VMware itself; I am not sure that Acronis can be setup that way.

We currently use IBM Tivoli as our current solution - to backup the VMs direct without considering the underlying VMware box - so on recovery in this situation I guess you would use a base build VM and restore to that. Would that be a good corporate strategy though?
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paulsolov earned 500 total points
ID: 22758088
Vizioncore's Vranger product will be ESXi compatible some time this quarter and will backup the underlying files.  Most of the companies that currently do native vm backups are in the process of releasing their ESXi version within the next few months.

You may also want to take a look at Backup Exec 12.5, one of the options is vm backup but I haven't taken a look at the details yet and not sure if it supports ESXi.

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