By Alison / Last Updated April 26, 2022

Overview of Hyper-V VM Backup

Microsoft Hyper-V is a cost-effective type-1 hypervisor that built into 64-bit Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 8 and later versions.

Using Hyper-V Manager you can create and manage multiple VMs for testing or development.

When using Hyper-V VMs, you need to take regular backups in order to protect your critical data from loss. But how to do that exactly? And should you backup Hyper-V host? In this article I will answer these questions and provide 3 common ways to backup Hyper-V VMs.

MS Hyper-V

Should you backup Hyper-V host

Actually, it is generally agreed by IT staff that it is Not Necessary to back up your Hyper-V host. In most cases, what really matters is to back up virtual machines on the host.

Backing up Hyper-V host refers to backing up the Hyper-V hypervisor settings, including storage, networking, roles, permissions, and the virtual switch configurations, etc. Currently there is no direct way to do this.

Ideally, Hyper-V hosts should be kept simple so that VMs can be flexibly migrated to other hosts or hypervisors. This makes reconfiguring the Hyper-V host a simple and quick process, takes even shorter time than restoring from a backup.

Hyper-V Host-level vs. Guest-level Backup

Basically there are 2 approaches to back up Hyper-V VMs, host-level backup and guest-level backup.

● A host-level VM backup will back up the entire VM, including its configuration, allowing you to restore an entire immediately available VM.

● A guest-level VM backup back up the VM as the physical machines by installing an agent on guest operating system. But when restoring, you need to create an empty VM and install a guest OS, and then reinstall the agent on the guest OS.

For most times, when we talk about VM backups, we mean host-level backups. But depending on what you need to restore, you may combine 2 approaches together to meet different needs.

2 host-level ways to backup Hyper-V VMs using built-in feature

In this section, I will introduce 2 built-in ways to perform host-level Hyper-V VM backup.

Export Hyper-V VMs: By exporting VMs to OVF or OVA templates you can restore to other Hyper-V hosts. However, you can only backup one VM at a time.

Backup using Windows Server Backup: Windows Server Backup (WSB) is a built-in feature that provides backup and restore options for Windows server environments, allowing you to schedule automatic backup tasks of multiple VMs. But you cannot monitor the backup status this way.

Except for the above 2 ways, you can also gain a complete and independent VM copy by manually copying VM files and creating a new VM, then attaching VHD file to restore the data. But it is not recommended because Hyper-V puts VM files in different locations.

Note: Hyper-V checkpoints should not be used as backups because they rely on parent disk completely, if the parent disk is corrupted or deleted, checkpoint files cannot be used to restore VM.

Way 1: Export Hyper-V VM on Hyper-V Manager

1. Launch Hyper-V Manager. Right-click the VM you want to backup, select Export…

Select Export

2. Click Browse to specify where you want to save the files in the pop-up window.


3. Wait for the Export progress. The more software you installed in this system, the more time this process will cost.

When it’s accomplished, you will find 3 folders in the destination location. The VHD files, the VM configuration files, and the snapshots.

Way 2. Backup Hyper-V VMs using Windows Server Backup

1. Launch Server Manager. Click Manage and select Add Roles and Features. Click Next.

Add Roles and Features

2. Select Role-based or feature-based installation as the Installation Type. Click Next.

3. Select the Server from the server pool and click Next.

4. Click Next on Server Roles page.

5. On Features page, find and check Windows Server Backup in Features list. Click Next to install.

Install Windows Server Backup

6. When it’s done, close the window and back to Server Manager. Click Tools and select Windows Server Backup.

7. As you can see, you can choose Backup Schedule, Backup Once, and Recover in Actions menu. Here we click Backup Once.

8. In pop-up Backup Once Wizard, select Different options and click Next.

Backup options

9. In Select Backup Configuration page, if you want to choose a specific folder or files, select Custom and then click Next.

Select Backup Configuration

10. Click Add items to select the Hyper-V VM you want to back up.

Click Add items

11. Specify the Destination Type and click Next. As you can see, you can choose backup to local drive or network share.

Specify Destination Type

12. Select the Destination location and click Next.

Specify Destination location

13. Confirm the settings and click Backup to start.

Tip: WSB also has one feature called automatic disk usage management which can shrink the storage space allocated for snapshots to delete old backups and make space for new backups. But this feature often leads to failures of backups and other errors, because WSB will not shrink the storage space to less than 1/8 of target volume size.
You can also use System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) to backup Hyper-V virtual machines, either in host-level, or guest-level. To learn how you can refer to this article: Back up Hyper-V virtual machines

How to quickly backup Hyper-V VMs using AOMEI Cyber Backup

Among the two ways introduced above, using export feature you can only backup one VM at a time, while WSB can automatically backup multiple VMs, but again, its backup cleanup feature is very unstable.

Therefore, many Hyper-V users turn to a dedicated Hyper-V backup software for better functionality. There are many comprehensive 3rd party backup tools that allows you to monitor backup status, schedule automatic backup tasks of multiple VMs and space cleanup plans, which well compensates for the lack of native backup ways.

I recommend you AOMEI Cyber Backup, because it simplifies Hyper-V VM backup and restore into 3 quick steps.

Here is a demonstration and you can click the following button to start a free trial.

Download Free TrialWindows Server 2012 & later versions
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3 quick steps to create automatic Hyper-V VMs backup tasks

1. Bind Devices: Navigate to Source Device > Hyper-V > + Add Hyper-V to add a host, and click > Bind Device.

Add Hyper-V host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and specify Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target, Schedule, and Cleanup on one clean page.

Create a Hyper-V backup task

  • Device: AOMEI Cyber Backup allows you to backup multiple, or even all VMs on the host at once.
  • Target: You can select to back up to a local path, or to a network path. Used paths will be saved in Favorite Storage for handy selection.
  • Schedule: You can choose to perform full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution daily, weekly or monthly according to the frequency you specified.

Set up backup schedule

  • Cleanup: You can specify a retention period, and the old backup files that exceed the period will be automatically deleted.

Backup Cleanup

Click Start Backup you can select to Add the schedule only, or Add the schedule and start backup now.

Start Backup Hyper-V VMs

3. Restore VMs: Navigate to Backup Management > History Versions and select the VM and restore point you want to restore to, click > Restore and specify to Restore to original location or Restore to new location.

  • Restore to new location: You can choose to restore the backup to new VM on original or another datastore, host, and reset the RAM and Vital Processor.

Click Start Restore.

Restore to new location

AOMEI Cyber Backup will clearly record all operations made to the VMs, and separate error logs for easy reference and troubleshooting. And it only charges a reasonable fee based on the number of bound devices, regardless of how many VMs are on the host. In Hyper-V,  backup virtual machine is convenient with ACB tool.


In this article I briefly introduced 2 types of Hyper-V VM backup, and the specific steps to export Hyper-V VMs and using Windows Server Backup. And if you want a professional backup tool, AOMEI Cyber Backup is definitely worth a try.

Except for Hyper-V, you can also centrally manage VMware ESXi VMs on AOMEI Cyber Backup. It supports Windows Server 2012 and all later versions, VMware ESXi 6.0 and all later versions.