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How do i backup a VMware machine?

Posted on 2012-03-20
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Last Modified: 2012-04-03
I have a windows 2008 machine running VMware (windows 2003 DC).

How can i backup the Virtual Machine?  i've seen some scripts to suspend the VM, backup, etc... is there a way to backup the VM while it's online and working? if not, what are my other options?
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Question by:fstinc
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14 Comments
 
LVL 42

Expert Comment

by:Adam Brown
ID: 37745066
Depending on what the server is used for, you should be able to do a Snapshot of the VM. If something breaks, you can restore the snapshot. Note that if the server is a domain controller, restoring a VM snapshot is a *bad* idea.
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Author Comment

by:fstinc
ID: 37745068
yes, it is a DC. so that's not going to work.
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LVL 42

Assisted Solution

by:Adam Brown
Adam Brown earned 668 total points
ID: 37745072
If it's a DC, you'll want to run a backup using software to back up the server as if it were physical. That is, install backup software and run the backup from the OS. Any type of VM level backup will cause problems during a restore for a DC.
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LVL 123
ID: 37745112
Did not know, EE also has VMware Articles? Checkout my EE Articles

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide
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LVL 123
ID: 37745119
your question very much depends on whether you are using free or licensed.

Yes, you can backup live VMs, checkout GhettoVCB for free in my Article.
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Author Comment

by:fstinc
ID: 37745124
how do i know if i am using free or licensed?
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LVL 123
ID: 37745126
EE Members also need to read this

A snapshot is NOT a backup of a VM; that is a gross misconception.

A snap shot is a way to preserve a point in time when the VM was running OK before making changes. A snapshot is NOT a way to get a static copy of a VM before making changes.  When you take a snapshot of a VM what happens is that a delta file gets created and the original VMDK file gets converted to a Read-Only file.  There is an active link between the original VMDK file and the new delta file.  Anything that gets written to the VM actually gets written to the delta file.   The correct way to use a snapshot is when you want to make some change to a VM like adding a new app or a patch; something that might damage the guest OS. After you apply the patch or make the change and it’s stable, you should really go into snapshot manager and delete the snapshot which will commit the changes to the original VM, delete the snap, and make the VMDK file RW. The official stance is that you really shouldn’t have more than one snap at a time and that you should not leave them out there for long periods of time. Adding more snaps and leaving them there a long time degrades the performance of the VM.  If the patch or whatever goes badly or for some reason you need to get back to the original unmodified VM, that’s possible as well.  

I highly recommend reading these 2 articles on VMware Virtual Machine Snapshots:

Understanding Snapshots - http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1015180
Snaphot Best Practices - http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1025279

Also check out the following Snapshot Articles by Eric Siebert

Pt.1- http://is.gd/Lajg4p
Pt.2- http://is.gd/NdKQWC
Pt.3- http://is.gd/tp2vEK
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LVL 123
ID: 37745132
have you paid any money to VMware or VMware Resellers for a License?
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Author Comment

by:fstinc
ID: 37745135
I'm new to the environment
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LVL 123
ID: 37745154
check you licenses what does it say in vSphere?

are you using vCenter Server?
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:hirenvmajithiya
ID: 37745770
If you are having vCenter 4.1 or later with vSphere ESXi 4.1 or later, you get a free vmware tool called vSphere Data Recovery which exactly fits your requirement.

Hiren
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Author Comment

by:fstinc
ID: 37745779
I have this:

VMware Infrastructure Web Access
Version 2.0.0
Build 128374
VMware Server
Version 2.0.1
Build 156745
0
 
LVL 5

Assisted Solution

by:CarlosDominguez
CarlosDominguez earned 664 total points
ID: 37746508
So probably you don't have vCenter and you cannot use vmware Data Recovery. Other option is GhettoVCB. But in any case, I would NOT recommend any of these methods for a DC. The recommendation is to perform a Windows backup from the guest OS (as if it were physical).
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LVL 123

Accepted Solution

by:
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 668 total points
ID: 37746511
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