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VMware backups

Hello,
We have our first VM server running with 4.0 on it.  Currently we are still backing up the servers as we did before they were vm's.  I'm wondering what the best practice for backing up VM's is.  I know there are 4 or so files that make up every server that runs as a VM.  Should I be backing those up also?  If I have those files can I easily move them to a new VMware server if our original dies?  We use Computer Associates ArcServe for our backup software.

Thanks for any help.
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turtletrax
Asked:
turtletrax
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1 Solution
 
coolsport00Commented:
There are a couple solutions you can look into, Veeam Backup & Replication (http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-backup.html) and Vizioncore's vRanger (http://www.vizioncore.com/products/vRangerPro/). I use Veeam in my infrastructure and recommend it to many who post on EE. It's easy to implement, manage, cost-beneficial (fairly inexpensive), and support is decent. You can use it to back up a whole VM (recommend in my opinion), or per file. It has backup capability, as well as replication and file de-dup capability. Good stuff! :)

Hope that helps.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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coolsport00Commented:
BTW...didn't answer 1 of your questions. If you ever need to restore your VM, you are able to do so to a completely different ESX host/server.

~coolsport00
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
Does CA work with ESXi or just ESX?  
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coolsport00Commented:
No backup solution works with ESXi...not unless you get the 'purchased version' of ESXi. VMware took backup capability of ESXi last June I believe.

~coolsport00
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coolsport00Commented:
Sorry...meant to say "VMware took backup capability *out* of ESXi last June I believe." :)
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
Which version of ESXi are you using ? Free or Licensed ?
I think ARCServer only supports ESX Hosts.
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
We do have the purchased version.
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coolsport00Commented:
According to here, https://support.ca.com/irj/portal/anonymous/phpdocs?filePath=0/4536/125/4536_125_compmatrix.html, it supports both ESX and ESXi. I guess it depends what you're wanting to do exactly. I can't comment necessarily on ARCserve's functionality since I don't use it. It, like most traditional b/u software, should be able to backup your VM's guest OS, but if you're wanting a way to recover your VM as a whole, I'm not sure if ARCserve does that. Veeam and vRanger does.

~coolsport00
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
I agree with coolsport00 since I see a lot of agents related to Lotus Domino, Exchange and SQL on ARCserver's Website but the ability to backup an entire VM is lagging.
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
Thanks, that was what it looked like to me too, but wanted to make sure.  Looks like I need to take a close look at Vizioncore or Veeam.
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SelfGovernCommented:
Here's a paper on best practices for VMware backup with HP Data Protector software:
http://bizsupport2.austin.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c01768750/c01768750.pdf

Lots more whitepapers on the Data Protector site, http://www.hp.com/go/dataprotector , several related to VMware in particular.

One of the problems with VMware is that there are so many ways to back up your environment... each has its strengths and weaknesses; which one you pick depends on how you weigh the various costs (money, time to restore, cost of HW needed for the solution, chance of lost data, etc.).
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
I installed Veeam FastSCP to try as a free solution.  I shut down my virtual server that I wanted to backup and ran a copy of the files.  It worked great and it was FAST.  However when I try to start the server again it says it can't because the file is locked.  It appears FastSCP holds on to the file somehow and doesn't let go.  Did I not wait long enough or is there a way to release the vmdk file without having to reboot the server running FastSCP?
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coolsport00Commented:
Hmm...hard to say. Not sure why it says "file is locked". Can you post a screenshot of what you're seeing? Also, do you see all the same VM files on the target side copy of the VM as well as the source (orig VM) side?

~coolsport00
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
Here's a screen shot of the error.  In FastSCP I ran a scheduled copy.  Under Jobs it shows the status as started, but if I right click I have "start job" as an option.  When I look at the destination folder it shows the 4 files in there, but I don't really know how to tell if it really finished or if it's still copying.  
veeam.jpg
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coolsport00Commented:
There are more than 4 files that get copied. What files show (the file extension)? I would right-click on the "job" in Veeam and select 'Stop'. Job scheduling in FastSCP is...well...'bare-boned' and very much lacking in my opinion. It's not really designed for backup purposes...just quick VM copying. To do an actual 'copy', you need to use the Server heading area within FastSCP. Browse to the VM directory/folder you want to make a copy of, right-click on the folder and select 'Copy'. Then browse to the host you want to place the VM, right-click on the selected datastore/directory, and select 'Paste'. You see a progress window when doing this. With Backup & Replication, you are able to open up a progress window but that doesn't work with ESXi.

~coolsport00
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
In FastSCP it shows the log files and then .nvram, .vmdk, vmsd, .vmx, .vmxf, .vswp, and .vmdk files.  When it ran the job it only copied 4 files, vmsd, vmx, vmxf, and vmdk to the destination folder.  Perhaps I just didn't wait long enough for it to finish.  When I right click on the job the option to stop the job was grayed out, but I did have the option to start it, even though it said it was started.  I really would just like to get a backup of the VM's like this so that I can restore them in the case of a disaster.  I obviously need another solution for easier daily backups.
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coolsport00Commented:
You 'may' not have waited long enough. Can you 'delete' the job? If so, do that then try powering on your VM again. Also, try the copy process I mentioned to see if it works. Yes, ESXi doesn't make it easy (any longer) to use backup utilities. As a matter of fact, for the most part, you can't. But, you said you have the 'purchased version' of ESXi, correct? Backup utilities are 'supposed' to work when you have a purchased version of ESXi...

~coolsport00
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
I suggest that you evaluate Trilead VM Explorer which charges you only per installation for a license and not per ESX/ESXi Host.
Check out its features - http://www.trilead.com/Features/
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
We do have the purchased version.  We have Advanced server.  Had I known the downfall with backups withe ESXi when I installed it, I would have installed ESX, because I really had no reason to install one over the other.  I did delete the job, and was able to power on the VM again.  At this point, we only have 1 host, so I don't have another one to copy the files to.
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
Does Trilead work with ESXi?
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coolsport00Commented:
If you have the local storage to do so, you can install VMware Server (it's free; http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/datacenter_downloads/vmware_server/2_0) on your workstation or another physical box and copy the VM to it. You could also do a 'conversion' using VMware Standalone Converter (http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/datacenter_downloads/vmware_vcenter_converter_standalone/4_0).

What are your goals (ideally) as far as backing up your VMs go?

~coolsport00
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vmwarun - ArunCommented:
Trilead supports both ESX and ESXi.
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turtletraxAuthor Commented:
We are just in the process of buying another server so we can bring up another VM server.  That should help with my disaster recovery.  Right now we are just backing up files on the vm's like we do any other server.  I want to avoid having to rebuild a server if something happens to it so that's why I'm trying to do some file level backups.  Of course they need to be done at least weekly, if not added to our daily backup process somehow.  
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coolsport00Commented:
With ESXi, you're pretty limited in your options. Since you have the 'purchased version' of ESXi, I recommend you contact VMware for your backup options. Part of the reason to go with the purchased version if for b/u capability. I use the free version of ESXi, and ESX Enterprise, so I can't comment on ESXi purchased version backup functionality. VMware support (you should have support with them) will better know your backup options. There is a 'way' to do it, but it's so intricate, that I personally don't use it, but others do and like it, considering there's just not much else to use. See here:
http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760

~coolsport00
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