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ESXi Backup Solutions

Posted on 2010-09-17
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Just struggling with a simple backup solution for the VMs on my ESXi 4.1 Server (Paid license with Essentials Package). The VMs are on local storage (RAID 10). Honestly, I just need to be able to make periodic copies of the VMs, so that in the event of a complete crash, I don't need to rebuild the VMs from scratch. My thought is that as long as the base image is somewhat current, I can bring those back, and then lay my file level backups on top of those.

That being said, I don't really want to spend a ton of money on fancy backup solutions because these aren't mission critical VMs, I just want to save copies of the VMs on a manual basis. I realize that I could probably just use the VI client and download them to my local machine, but my LAN is only 100Mbit, and copying the images would take too long. I do have a bunch of extra NICs on the host, I was thinking of using one of them to connect an additional NFS datastore that could sit on it's own little gigabit isolated network so I can get faster copy speeds.

Would the best solution just be to use the ghettovcb script and copy the VMs out to the NFS store that I mention above?
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Question by:jschweg
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coolsport00 earned 500 total points
ID: 33704663
If doing it manually is ok, then download/install Veeam FastSCP and make copies of the whole VM folders, or the vmdk files. It's free :)

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33704671
Forgot to provide you the link (sorry):
http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esxi-fastscp.html

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:jschweg
ID: 33704741
That would probably work for me, but I'm not sure how I would set that up networking wise because I need to be able to save them @ gigabit speeds or it won't be practical.

The LAN is 100Mbit, there is one NIC attached to vswitch0, which houses the VM Port Group and vmkernel port for management. I'm guessing I would need to setup another vswitch with vmkernel and attach another NIC to it, that way I could run veeam from a windows box on that network which be on gigabit?
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by:Neil Russell
ID: 33704787
Make sure that the NIC you but is on the HCL for ESXi
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33704797
What connection the VMs are on will be the speed at which you are able to copy VMs. You can certainly create another vSwitch with a Gig connection and that should work for you. But, if your LAN speed is 100MB, it really won't matter what you use (FastSCP, WinSCP, or a script). You'll only be able to copy/transfer as fast as the slowest part of your network. The best way to find out is to test it to be sure. Since it's free, it won't cost anything but a little time.

~coolsport00
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by:jschweg
ID: 33704949
If the machine that I'm running SCP from is on the same gigabit segment that the host is connected to via that second NIC, it won't transfer them at gigabit speeds?
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33705354
Ok...then it should; just test it to verify.

~coolsport00
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by:jschweg
ID: 33705402
I'm also using thin provisioning for these VMs, but it looks like when I transfer the files, the disk is coming over at the full provisioned size. This throws a monkey wrench in my plan as I figured I would only need to download the actual used space in the image.

ugh.
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33705431
Yep...I believe that is the case; it will transfer the entire "configured" disk space...not just what's used.

You could use Veeam Backup & Replication. It's not free, but it's only $495US per phys ESXi host socket. So, if you have some $$ to spend, it may be worth the cost...although your VMs aren't critical, so you'll have to determint the cost-benefit of doing so.

~coolsport00
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by:rgeers
ID: 33705706
I've done exactly as you want. Make shure you create a snapshot in ESXi before you do a backup.
Then create a complete copy of the directory using scp. In another ESXi you can restore this copy from the snapshot, but you need to edit the vmx file and remove a file that is missing from your backup. This is the updates that are done after you created the snapshot. Just remove this, and you will be able to register the vm again. use vim-cmd solo/reg <vmx-file> to register and look at the logfile for any errors. So this is from a running instance. You can make it easier if you can shut it down first,
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33705788
Why create a snapshot???...no snapshot is needed. Snapshots should rarely (if ever, in my opinion) be used...

~coolsport00
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by:rgeers
ID: 33716510
Like I said, if the vmware instance is online while doing the backup, you need the snapshot
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33716536
If Veeam Backup & Replication is used, it automatically creates a snapshot of the VM so the VM can be backed up online, then removes the snap after it completes. If doing a simple VM copy, snapshots are not needed...it just makes the copy process take longer.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:rgeers
ID: 33716639
The solution I suggested is free, but adds a little hassle. If you want to spend $$, I guess your solution is best. If you want to run your backup without paying $$ and add some hassle, use scp and snapshot.
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