Backing up VMs in ESXi V4

VShpere Clinent CLONE optionHi,
Before upgrading ESXi V4 to V5.1, as a precaution, I would like to backup VMs in a safer place so that if upgrade goes bad, then I can reconstruct VMs from these backups. Fyi, I purchased VShere Essential 5 so that I can install licensed version of ESXi 5.1 or 5.5.
 
So far I downloaded virtual machine folders using BROWSE DATABSE to an external USB Hard drive.

Also I was thinking about this:

Will this work (please see the screenshot from another VMware site)? In one site that I manage, I discovered that licensed version of ESXi has CLONE option. Can I set up V5.5 on new hardware box/host (on a temporary basis) and add existing  ESXi V4 Host into Vshpere Client and perform "CLONE" operation on each VM so that it is cloned on to the new host?
If the upgrade goes haywire, I can perform a fresh new install of ESXi V5.1 and Clone VMs on temporary host to existing server/host?
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sgleeAsked:
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
What if you try to backup your virtual machines with Veeam Free (vms must be turned off) and then upgrade esx to 5.5 and again with veeam restore vms?
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Current ESXi v.4 is Free version. Will Veeam backup software work with it?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
There are many methods to do this, the Datastore Browse and Download method is one

but there is an easier method, with licensing ESXi....

see my EE Article

Part 10: HOW TO: Backup (Export) and Restore (Import) virtual machines to VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 for FREE

use a third party backup product, but probably too much hassle to install...

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

or use VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.5

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE - VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.5


First Article is easiest, Export to OVF!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Current ESXi v.4 is Free version. Will Veeam backup software work with it? - NO! It must be Licensed!

BUT VMExplorer will.... - https://www.trilead.com/ - Grab a trial!

Backup and restore for ESX/ESXi,  ESXi free and Hyper-V

Unless VMware have asked them to change it!
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Can I apply the Vsphere client essential license to current ESXi v.4?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If you are licensed for ESXi 4.1 you can add the existing server (4.1) to vCenter Server.

BUT you will need a valid license.

Simplest method, is to Export to OVF!

You CANNOT add a FREE ESXi 4.1 to vCenter Server, it will complain, so you will need a valid license.

The CLONE option works by CLONING to a DATASTORE not a HOST.

Do you have shared storage e.g. a SAN or NAS ?

if so you can CLONE to shared storage, and use vMotion/Storage vMotion to MOVE VMs to new hosts.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Andy,

As you suggested, I tried "Virtual Machine Backup (Export) of My First Windows VM to OVF" from the link "Part 10: HOW TO: Backup (Export) and Restore (Import) virtual machines to VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 for FREE".
It worked great. After detaching Floppy and CD-ROM/ISO from VM/Edit, I exported existing Win7 VM from one host running ESXi 5.5 (in my test environment) into both formats - OVA and OVF - on my external USB HD.
Then I successfully created a new virtual machine using OVA directly into another Host running ESXi 5.5.
I think this is better than "Downloading Virtual Machine folders thru Browse DataStore".
Having done this, I feel good about doing the upgrade from V4.1 to V5.1. In case something goes wrong, I can always re-install either V4.1 or go with V5.1 and create virtual machines from the scratch from these OVA or OVF files.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Andy,

Now I have used both methods -
(1) downloading VM folder via Browser Datastore
(2) Exporting VM in OVA format

 I can tell that method (2) is simpler than method (1) because you can created a single OVA file.
 However when it comes to restoring VMs, no matter which method you choose to backup, aren't they doing the same?
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
Exporting OVA/OVF was quick and easy.
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