backup ESX 4.0 config

Posted on 2011-09-28
Last Modified: 2012-05-12

which directories should I copy in order to back up my ESX 4.0 config? I can use either fastSCP or PowerGUI, but prefer fastSCP due to prior experience. I guess something else if there is something better. My ultimate goal, if possible, is to do a fresh install of ESX 4.1 and then reload the ESX 4.0 config so I don't have to reconfigure networking, storage, etc.

much thanks
Question by:rpliner
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LVL 121
ID: 36720077
It's not easy to backup the configuration of an ESX 4.0 (not ESXi) installation.

we backup the following directories for change control

    /etc/passwd file
    /etc/shadow file
    /home directory
    /root directory
    /etc/vmware directory

we also run the vm-support bundle and backup the support.tgz via cron scripts.

It is not possible to create a clone from this information.

If you want to make clones, try Clonezilla.
LVL 121

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 250 total points
ID: 36720253
We've had good success with Ghost 4 Linux,

But we use it for, DR and testing Client setups, we do not use for cloning and deployment, because it's quicker for us to deploy from scratch, 5-10 mins install of ESX.
LVL 40

Assisted Solution

coolsport00 earned 250 total points
ID: 36720756
The file copies of above are for v. 3.x. Can you do a restore using those files @hanccocka? ( I had a lengthy discussion with VMware Support over this, and their "official" stance on ESX 4.x backup/restore is only done via Host Profiles. This is certainly not ideal because it means that org's must have Ent Plus licensing in their environment to be able to have Host Proflles. On a lighter side, as mentioned above, a reinstall of ESX is literally only 7-8mins long. If you just document your host Configurations (should do so any just as a good practice), reconfiguring them shouldn't take you more than 10mins more. My recommendation is reinstall like @hanccocka mentions.

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LVL 121
ID: 36720768
YOU cannot restore ANY ESX from files. It cannot be done. Yeah they could be old, these are old scripts we've been running for years, that capture configs we change!

We just backup those files for change control, just in case VMware Admins, do something stupid!

It's quicker to install ESX 4.0 that try to restore from a tar backup, or Backup Exec tape backup with Linux Agents.

as I stated "It is not possible to create a clone from this information", also there are issues with symlinks, and UUIDs of the datastore.

However you can clone with Ghost 4 Linux!

Author Comment

ID: 36893089
Thanks. I do realize that the install is relatively straight-forward and the config is as well (at least to those that do this frequently) However, I have only done this a handful of times and always get frazzled when I begin to try to remember how I set up the MS iSCSI initiator on my Veeam server and set all the iSCSI ports on my AX4-5i, my Promise VessRAID, and now my HP p2000, along with jumbo frames, multipathing, and all the networking and storage. I am not looking to forward to this.

Thanks again.  
LVL 121
ID: 36893112
MS iSCSI initiator on my Veeam server - that's not ESX config!

Every VMware Admin should have decent documentation, that you can handover to the next VMware Admin, should you be knocked down by a red double decker London bus.

or just if it helps as a reminder on how to do it, if you do not have a photographic memory!

Document it, when you do it, or Create Videos.

If you would like to experiment, there is always the Ghost 4 Linux,
that will create a CLONE!

Author Comment

ID: 36893162
oh right - it's not!?! See how frazzled! at least that's one less thing. I'm sure I would have figured it out when I went to mess with it and it was still working. At least I hope! Unfortunately this is all production and I don't have a lab environment to test g4l.

I will document this install for sure. Do you have a software suggestion for creating a video?
LVL 121
ID: 36893337
Techsmith Camtasia! (free 30 day trial).

LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 36893343
Ooo...thanks for that @hanccocka. Heard good things about Camtasia, but wasn't sure if it was trial.

Author Comment

ID: 36893630
Thx for the suggestion. Please be on the lookout for my questions when I actually do the install!

Thx again

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