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mrjoltcolaFlag for United States of America

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ESXi - What are my VM backup options?

I've run VMware server for years, and backups are simple, copy files.

I'm trying ESXi (free version) for reasons of simplicity and performance (I hope). Quicker to install the bare-iron image and get up and running. But if what I am reading is correct, there is a big tradeoff, if I cannot simply take a filesystem snapshot of the vm files.

What are my VM backup options, looking for the simplest method.

Is ESXi just a dangling carrot to get me into a commercial option?
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Avatar of Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
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I would recommend GhettoVCB.

Or search the Internet for the Veeam Backup software which can work with the Free version of ESXi, that VMware stopped Veeam from being downloaded from their website!
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ESXi is useful if you don't mind supporting yourself through forums like Experts Exchange. I would certainly recommend the commercial version if you have mission critical applications just so you will have vendor support should you need it.

There are other benifits - I detailed some of the benifits for backup above.
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>>ESXi is useful if you don't mind supporting yourself through forums like Experts Exchange. I would certainly recommend the commercial version if you have mission critical applications just so you will have vendor support should you need it.

Yep, that is understood. I have a mix of supported and unsupported solutions and for the life of my vmware use (since vmware 1.0) I've never actually needed support outside of my own staff.

One reason we decided to try ESXi came out of performance related issues: we had a FogBugz server running on VMware Server, and it had plenty of RAM and beefy host hardware, but we had odd delays and hangs after nightly idle time, we spent months trying to solve it, then it cleared up once we converted to a non-virtual install.

These servers wil be simple app servers, so nightly / point in time recovery is not needed. I suppose I can just do manual snapshots via vSphere and drag those snapshots over to my NAS?
We have many large clients, that use the FREE ESXi, that we've been unable to convert for years!

They use NFS connected sessions to NetApp filers, and use NetApp Snapshots to backup, they've decided they do not require the bells and whistles of vMotion, HA or DRS yet.

Some have also found the Veeam Backup software that allows you to backup your servers on the free version of ESXi, that Veeam cancelled on behalf of VMware.

We also have some clients that have been using FreeNAS and Snapshoting for backups as well. Yes FreeNAS can do snapshots as well!

It's a shame they can do all they want for free.
But whilst the VMware Virtual Machine is in Snapshot Mode, you should be able to copy the main virtual disk, with scripts, and look at GhettoVCB got guidance, you should be able to complete backups to a NAS, or use GhettoVCB to a NFS NAS.
Why not? They include all of the machine state, along with a quiesced filesystem?
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The above is the process I use (manually) in my lab at home. I use Veeam FastSCP to copy the data off to a USB drive on my workstation.

Hope this helps

By the way - the reason for copying the vmx file first (instead of after the snapshot is taken) is that the vmx file is pointing to all of the correct files at that point should you need to restore. If you wait it will be pointing to the snapshot file that you can't get a consistent backup of.
Have a look at GhettoVCB (which is just a script to copy your VMs to a NAS!)
Ok, I was under a misconception about what they were, thanks for clearing that up.
No problems, have a look at the GhettoVCB scripts for free, it may do what you want to do.