VMWare ESXi 5.0 Backups

My boss sets up numerous VMWare servers using the free version, and when he told me that, I assumed he meant the ESXi bare metal free hypervisor.  No.  He meant the VMWare Server 2.x version.  The reason he uses that is because of the ease with which he can backup the VMs using something like Symantec System Recovery or Windows Server Backup.  He's concerned about the backups for ESXi and that there's no built-in utility like there is in the licensed/paid version of ESXi.

Due to the faster speed of not running Windows as the OS and then running VMWare Server on top of it, I want to start using ESXi instead.  But again, that would be free ESXi 5.0.  What is the best way to set up backup and disaster recovery on ESXi 5.0 free hypervisor.

Any and all suggestions are welcome :)
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Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions ConsultingCommented:
If you run off an nfs share like I do (I run zfs guru for my San/nas) you can just copy the files. If esxi has all your stuff in a vmfs volume I think you have to use regular backup software from inside the vm. Not much fun there.
How many ESXi hosts are you going to have? If you are only going to have 3 or Less why not spend a little money and get vSPhere Essentials. 3 Hosts and vCenter for in the $600.00* range for Small office you cannot beat it. *That is Hundreds not a typo.

Then you can use third part software to backup because you will be able to use the backup API which are not available in the free version.
You should take a look at ghettoVCB. Its a free solution to backup your VMs from ESX(i). Here's the Link: http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If you are using the FREE ESXi 5.0, you options are very limited, because you do not have access to the License Storage APIs, which most Backup software depends on. So it would be wise to purchase vSphere Essentials for $500. VMware Server 2.0 was discontinued in 2009, and extended support for the product expired in June 2011. It's been replaced with a superior Type 1 Bare Metal Hypervisor. VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi). There is no Backup Function in VMware vSphere, unless you purchase Essential Plus which has VMware Data Recovery.

Did not know, EE also has VMware Articles? Checkout my EE Articles

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

Most Backup software for VMware vSphere leverages the use of VMware Snapshots to Backup the Virtual Machines.

Veeam Backup and Replication v6 is very popular and has won many awards, and is probably the leader at prrsent, used by many here on EE.

Veeam Backup and Replication v6

But lets' not forget some other worth contenders, that could touple Veeam this year, with very strong and Award winning products.

http://www.appassure.com/ - Number 1 Backup and VMs and Cloud

http://www.unitrends.com/ - a good vRecovery Backup Appliance.

Symantec Backup Exec V-Ray Edition
http://www.symantec.com/backup-exec-vray-edition - Unmatched backup and recovery designed for virtual and physical environments

VM Explorer
http://www.trilead.com/ - Simply, cost effective and it works.

Acronis Backup & Recovery® 11 Virtual Edition
http://www.acronis.com/virtualization/ - simple but effective

StorageCraft ShadowProtect Server
http://www.storagecraft.com/  - amazing but can be expensive
sedberg1Author Commented:
I was looking at vSphere Essentials ($495), it says max processor per host at 2.  So if I'm running dual quad-cores, I'm down to half use on one of the processors, no?

and everyone else, thanks for the suggestions, I'm going to be trying a lot of these and researching.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Essentials, is licensed at 2 sockets, Processors per Host, no limit on number of cores that can be used.

You will be able to use your Dual Processors Quad Core fully.
As haccocka said, licensing is for sockets. You have also be aware of vRAM-entitlement. For essentials and essentials plus it is 32GB per processor, so in a dual-cpu-environment this would be only 64GB vRAM. If you'll need more, you'll have to buy additional processor-licenses. See also http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf
Do not over look getting vCenter too (Comes with Essentials automatically). If you have never managed Host with vCenter you would be in for a real treat. There are so many advantages to having vCenter.

You you talked about $495.00 remember you have to get support also that is in the area of another $100.00 but well worth it.
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions ConsultingCommented:
The non automated way without spending a penny:
Use vcenter client
Connect direct to esxi host
Click summary
Right click the datastore your vm is on
Click browse datastore
You can download files or folders to your local pc
sedberg1Author Commented:
Essentials Plus is out of the question (too much money), but i might be able to sell them on Essentials.  Regular Essentials (not Plus) comes with VCenter?  And I'd be able to use that VCenter to connect to, say, 3 VSphere Essentials servers?
Regular Essentials (not Plus) comes with VCenter?  And I'd be able to use that VCenter to connect to, say, 3 VSphere Essentials servers?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
all versions of Essential has vCenter.
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