Backup options for VMware

Posted on 2011-05-07
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I am in the early stages of migrating my client from a single SBS2003 Server to a virtual environment which consists of:

1. DC
2. Exchange 2010
3. SQL
4. File/Print

These will all be VM's on Windows 2008 Std R2, and the VM Package is Vmware Essentials.

All storage will be held centrally on an iSCSI SAN. This SAN box also runs Starwind Enterprise CDP Edition which effectively virtualises the storage.

Another SAN and Essentials Plus will be a future upgrade to unlock more DR and HA features.

The current backup solution is by means of Online Backup with a local appliance storing a local copy. Data is also compressed, right now they are using around 100GB (compressed figure).

This is obviously expected to grow in the future.

So, what are my options to ensure a good backup/recovery system with VMWare?

My thoughts:

I can keep the existing solution to backup data/email etc.

What else should I be considering?

o If a user deletes something by mistake, I can restore easily using the current backup system.
o If a physical server fails, I can bring up the VM's on alternate Hosts with a cold migrate. No Vmotion so cannot be seamless.
o If the SAN fails, they're screwed. Will need to acquire new hw and reinstall everything.
o If they have a site failure (fire/theft/whatever) only the Data will be recoverable...everything still needs to be reinstalled from scratch

The simplest solution is obviously a DR site but what will not happen til next year earliest, which will have another SAN and probably some ESX hosts and replication.

From what I can think of, it seems to me I should keep the existing solution for data backup and find another solution for backing up the VM's OR maybe the Starwind images (which contain everything)?
Question by:hongedit
    LVL 116

    Accepted Solution

    Some options to consider

    If you have a licensed version of ESX/ESXi, you could purchase the following third party applications to perform backups

    1. Veeam Backup and Replication - very popular, won many awards at VMworld 2010

    download trial here -

    2. Quest vizioncore Vranger Pro - the first VM backup product with a good pedigree.

    download trial here -

    3. PHD Virtual Backup - very fast backup technology, using virtual applicance.

    Download trial here -

    4. VMware Data Recovery - supports dedupe, integrated with vCenter - maybe included with your current VMware License

    Some free tools you could also consider

    Free tool here:-

    ghettoVCBg2 - Free alternative for backing up VMs

    1. (needs licensed version of ESX)

    Will work on FREE ESXi, no licensed required.


    3. VMware Converter Standalone 4.3

    VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.x Documentation

    VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.3 User Guide
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    You would be better off investing in a a third party VM aware backup tool or if license permits the use of VMware Data Recovery, that can backup the VMs, but most are to disk only.

    File level restore is available with all backup products.

    then you could use your online backup, to back the VM Backup store.
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    VMware Data Recovery is included with Essentials Plus Editions.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Hi again :o)

    I am just browing through 1 and 3. Looks promising, but still reading!

    I can see what you mean about using the existing online backup to backup the VM store - and in that case I wouldnt even need to use a 3rd party application, I could just backup the Starwind images.

    Problem there is their online backup is charged per GB and it would I imagine, bump it up to twice the current quota or more.

    Having not looked properly yet I am hoping I can find some application that will allow you to backup to a remote location to something like a NAS drive.

    I guess another alternative is to buy a cheap box, load it up with storage (doesnt have to be performance orientated) and load Starwind on again, and configure async replication.


    Will get reading, thank you.
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    You could do with scripts, look at ghettoVCBg2 or ghettoVCB, if you didn't want to purchase an application for backups. This will allow you to complete backups to a NFS NAS.

    You could also use Veeam FastSCP to download from datastores.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Thanks - I will have a read!
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    What is VIMA/vMA?
    LVL 116

    Expert Comment

    by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
    that's another question really!?


    VMware Infrastructure Management Assistant (VIMA)

    It used to be VIMA, but now it's referred to vMA.

    The vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) allows administrators and developers to run scripts and agents to manage ESX/ESXi and vCenter Server systems. vMA is a virtual machine that includes prepackaged software, a logging component, and an authentication component that supports non-interactive login.

    It's a virtual applicance
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Hehe, thanks so much!

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