What is an effective VMware backup solution
Data is an important part of any business today. In order to protect virtual machine data from disaster, administrators may choose from a variety of virtual machine backup solutions, following 3-2-1 backup rule.
Taking VMware as an example, an effective VMware backup solution should have the following abilities:
- Keeping several copies of your VM data;
- Storing your VMware backups in multiple locations;
- Providing complete copies of your systems, down to every last document;
- Being independent and not relying on any single part of your internal infrastructure;
- Having the ability to backup applications inside VM as well, such as databases, ERP, CRM’s, etc.
To meet these conditions, it's best to create image-level backup of entire VMs. But as you may know, virtual machine backups (especially in enterprise environments) are often technically challenging and expensive. Is there any affordable or even free VMware backup solution?
In the following, I will introduce some methods you can try to free back up VMware VMs on ESXi.
Available free VM backup solutions for VMware
Before presenting the methods, I would like to make a statement that VM snapshot and backup cannot replace each other, since snapshots are not independent, and will affect your VM performance in the long-term. For businesses or organizations that want long-term data protection, it is better to consider the following backup solutions:
- Manually copy VM disk files: A VM is essentially a set of files. The virtual disk files can be direct open by the hypervisor.
- Export VM to OVF/OVA: Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a file format that supports exchange of virtual appliances across products and platforms. You can achieve faster downloads this way, but still need to export VM from ESXi one by one.
- Agent-based VM backup: You can perform file-based backup by using Windows Server Backup or Backup and Restore that come with Windows guest operating systems. But it cannot backup the host and guest configurations, and perform file-based backup on multiple VMs one by one can be laborious.
- Agentless free backup software: This is the most reliable way to backup VMs today. You can create independent and complete backups of multiple VMs with simple steps.
Free VMware backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup
Although there are built-in features that can be used to backup VMware VMs, in these ways you can only manually backup multiple VMs one by one. This may be enough for one or two VMs on VMware Workstation, but for enterprises using VMware ESXi, it may not be sufficient.
Therefore, backup software is popular in this regard. For example, a free VMware backup solution AOMEI Cyber Backup, it enables you to create backup tasks that cover multiple VMs, restore entire VMs, automate VM protection, and send email notifications if there's an error.
If you use free VMware ESXi, your options may have been limited by not supporting vStorage APIs. Don't worry, AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free ESXi.
You can use this free ESXi backup software to enjoy the following features:
Agentless VM Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs in a central console.
Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, NAS or network share.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.
Restore Entire VM: restore immediately available VMs from any selected restore points.
Role Assignment: allows one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges.
Email Notification: send email notification when the task is completed or abnormal.
Perpetual Free: you can use AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition with no time limit.
Just click the following button to download the free VMware backup software:
*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.
How to perform free VMware backup with AOMEI Cyber Backup
You can centrally manage VMs on both VMware ESXi and Hyper-V host with AOMEI Cyber Backup. The supported versions are VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions, Hyper-V in Windows 8/8.1/10/11, Windows Server/Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 and later versions.
Next, I will show you how to perform free VMware backup with AOMEI Cyber Backup.
3 easy steps to perform free VM backup
1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host as the source device. And then click … > Bind Device.
2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and then set Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target, and Schedule.
- Device: cover multiple VMs on the host within one backup task.
- Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path.
- Schedule: choose to perform full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.
3. Run Backup: Click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.
Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately, for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.
✦ While the Free Edition covers most of VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
Batch VM backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or on standalone ESXi hosts.
Backup cleanup: Configure a retention policy to auto delete old backup files and save storage space.
Restore to new location: Create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saves the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.
Virtual machine backup is an important VM data protection measure, that ensures you to recover data in time in case of disasters. As VMware ESXi is a widely used type-1 hypervisor, you may also want to backup VMware ESXi VMs for better data security.
In this article, I introduced 4 free VMware backup solutions. As for VMware ESXi, it is commonly agreed that backup software with automation features can better manage large amount of VMs. You can try AOMEI Cyber Backup. Its Free Edition covers all basic features, including create auto backup schedules.