WS 2012 R2 Std with Hyper-V Physical Host and 2VM's. Backup Best Practice.

I have a Windows Server 2012 R2 Std Server with Hyper-V installed on the physical host and 2 VM's. The first VM has the Essentials Role installed and is the domain controller. The second VM will be the application server. What is the best practice to ensure the physical host is backed up in addition to the 2 VM's. Would it be ok to install Windows Server Backup on the physical host and let that handle the backup?
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
That is certainly an option. It really depends on your DR goals. A host-level backup will let you restore an individual VM, but will not let you easily restore a single file that was stored in that VM (the all important "boss accidentally deleted the budget excel doc is in a panic" scenario. )  With things like cryptolocker, file level restore is often important.

On the other hand, running backups in the host and within guests gives much more flexibility to restore scenarios, but takes coordinating backups (having two VMs backing up at the same time can kill performance can cause both backups to run excessively long and even time out.)

Basically you should have a DR plan before making a backup plan. Then fit your backup solution to meet the DR goals. Trying to do it the other way around often leads to untested backups and critical failures.
nsd8322Author Commented:
Thanks Cliff. That makes sense and I am very glad that you responded since you helped me figure out this architecture in the first place. As far as installing WS Backup on the host, after our last thread I was concerned that I was violating some sort of licensing agreement.

If that is not the case then I would like to backup the physical host using WS Backup and the vm's also using WS Backup in case of a complete failure. Additionally, I'd like to backup the vm's to provide the file level flexibility that you refer to. Is this setup possible say with external drives connected via USB to the server?
Cliff GaliherCommented:
You won't be violating any licensing with that setup.  The actual wording regarding Hyper-V licensing is that software that directly involves administering the box is allowed. So backup, antivirus software, remote access for admins, is allowed. End-user software on the host would not be.

As far as how easy such a setup is...well....your preferred method actually isn't very easy truthfully.  Backing up the host will be easy. But running WSB from within the guest and backing up to a removable drive is a challenge.  Hyper-V doesn't do USB passthrough so making removable media visible to the guest is usually a matter of workarounds (there are several and each have their trade-offs.)  Usually when someone wants to back up the host *and* from within the guests, I recommend buying 3rd-party backup software designed for servers. Most good programs have a thin agent that installs on each machine, ensures you don't have backups stomping each other, and bypasses the issue of accessing media directly from the guest since the agent sends the data to a management/orchestration server.

For a (relatively) small investment, anything from the modest BackupAssist, to the traditional, like BackupExec, to new players like Veeam or StorageCraft, you can usually find a solution that fits the budget *and* features without the burden of WSB.

Don't get me wrong, WSB does what it does very well. But Microsoft has actively chosen not to compete with competitors (or itself since they also have the paid-for DPM product) and so keeps WSB feature-light with the idea that if/when you need more, you can buy it.

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nsd8322Author Commented:
Ok. I will review these options and determine what makes most sense. Thanks.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Veam offers a free hyper-v backup and I love their product line. The biggest question is how much can you lose i.e. 1 hour, 5 minutes, 1 day.. and what is the time for return to operations time. That you have to coordinate with the end users.   i.e. database backups should probably be every 5 minutes best by using the database backup routines from SQL server.

Remember that no backup strategy is good without a test of a restore as an untested backup is just a waste of compute and disk space. Virtual machines are nice since you can restore to dissimilar hardware in short order. Which is handy when your equipment supplier tells you that it will be a week before they can replace your server.
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