VMware ESXi is the most important component of vSphere. As a type-1 hypervisor, it is directly installed on bare metal and allows multiple virtual machines (VMs) to run on a single physical host. The VMware backup solution discussed in this article is mainly for ESXi VMs.
Virtual machine backup is an important measure to ensure disaster recovery in time and keep business continuity. Especially for enterprises that rely heavily on virtualization, if VMware VMs are not backed up in a timely manner, the loss in the event of a problem could be incalculable.
There is no doubt that VMware backup is necessary. The question is how to choose the right solution for you.
What VMware Backup Solutions Can We Use
As you may know, there are some built-in data protection options of VMware. If used properly, you can indeed use them to achieve some VM protection or migration needs. However, none of them is a true long-term “backup” function and they do not apply in all cases, so you may also need specialized solutions to meet higher requirements.
Now let’s look at these backup options, you can choose between them according to your situation.
- VM snapshots
A snapshot captures the complete state and data of a virtual machine at a specific point in time. It works as a short-term rollback point before unsafe operations, not long-term data storage. Keeping a snapshot for too long will also affect the performance of virtual machines.
Simply put, it’s not recommended to use snapshot as regular backup means.
- Copy VM files
Manually download VM files for archive or re-creation. You can deploy the virtual disk files (.vmdk) and the configuration files (.vmx) to an instantly usable copy of the VM.
- Export VM templates
Create a OVF template for re-deploy. You will gain faster downloads since the OVF files are compressed, and supports exchange of virtual appliances across products and platforms.
- Clone VMs (full clone/linked clone)
Create an exact copy of a virtual machine, including the virtual hardware and guest operating system. It’s a convenient way to migrate virtual machines, or create multiple same VMs.
- Guest OS backup utility
The guest OS inside of virtual machines may include some backup options, such as Windows Server Back up and Windows Backup and Restore. These backup utilities are comprehensive and flexible, allowing you to customize what files to back up. But the drawbacks are also obvious – you need to operate it machine by machine. If you are running tons of virtual machines, this method will cost you much time and effort.
- Specialized VMware backup software
If none of these methods work well for you, then it is best to choose a reliable and professional VMware backup solution. These products typically allow image level backups of all VMware virtual machines from a single console, enabling you to centralize and monitor all tasks and quickly restore specific virtual machines to a usable state when required.
Do We Need to Back up VMware ESXi Host Configurations?
The backup of VMware ESXi host configuration contains the host bootloader and bootbank partitions, the host state, the extensions and patches, and the log files. It enables you to restore the ESXi host to a different hardware.
However, it is not generally considered necessary to have a backup of a VMware host. It is not difficult to reconfigure an ESXi host. And if you have multiple VMware hosts that need to be configured, there are many automatic deployment tools available (such as vSphere Auto Deploy). What really matters is backup VMware ESXi VMs, they contain almost all the data you need.
Easy-to-use and Cost-effective VMware Backup Solution
Most of the VMware backup solutions available on the market give the impression of being expensive and oriented towards professionals. Here I will introduce an enterprise backup software best for non-profit organizations and small start-ups, it covers your basic VMware backup needs for free (or with affordable plans).
It supports both paid and free VMware ESXi since the 6.0 version, and offers you the following benefits:
- Easy-to-use: No fancy jargon, just a simple and easy to understand web console. You can complete almost any operation with several clicks.
- Centralized backup: Simply add all the virtual machines you want to back up in a web console without installing Agent program on each of them. You can finish the setup in several clicks and then create image-based backup for multiple VMs at once.
- Backup schedule and retention: Set up a schedule to auto backup VMware VMs such as daily, weekly, monthly. You can also create a retention policy to keep backups up to date and remove old backup versions intelligently.
- vCenter supported: In addition to standalone ESXi host, you can also add vCenter Server to back up virtual machine managed by it.
- Restore from any point: Recover VM from any full or incremental/differential backup point based on accurate data mapping and change block tracking. You can also choose in-place recovery, or restore to new location.
AOMEI Cyber Backup offers both perpetual and yearly licenses at very affordable price. If the number of VMs to back up does not exceed 10, you can also use its permanent FREE edition.
After downloading and installing, you can login to the web console, expand “Source Device” to add VMware or Hyper-V device. By VMware, you can add standalone ESXi or vCenter Server.
Click “Backup Task” > “Create New Task” and set up the VMware backup as you need in the task interface. You can configure backup type, task name, backup content, backup target and schedule. Click “Start Backup” to create or create & execute the task.
That’s it, the created back tasks can be monitored and edited in Backup Task page. You can also enable Email Notification to receive backup status via specified email.