Host-Level Backup vs Guest-level Backup | How to Perform

You may wonder what a host level backup is and how to choose host level backup or guest level backup in your environment. This article describes how to use host level backup properly and more information about data security.


By Zelia / Updated on April 10, 2023

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What is host level backup

Host backups, which include centralized backups of virtual machines, as well as backups of host settings, configuration files, storage, etc. It provides a more centralized and efficient backup solution. Host-level backups protect hosted virtual machines by leveraging host snapshots.

After understanding host-level backups, we have to look at guest-level backups, which are not either/or, but there are many differences.

The guest-level backup is similar to a physical machine backup, which requires an agent to be installed on each virtual machine. The special agent is being installed in the operating system of the virtual machine to carry on the backup by interacting with their file systems and applications.


Host level backup vs Guest level backup

Actually, both host-level backup and guest-level backup have their own advantages and disadvantages, and when compared, you can choose different backup methods depending on your needs.

host backup vs guest backup

The biggest advantage of host-level backup is its flexibility, because it runs backups without considering the type of guest OS running and without having to install agents.

When you want to perform a recovery, you can also restore the VM directly to an available state, as they are performed for the entire virtual machine, including its various configurations and data. Host-level backup which will greatly reduce your working time and operational steps.

What’s more, the biggest advantage of guest-level backups is that they can be restored in the context of a specific application, which is not possible with host-level backups. But this approach eliminates the need to back up the entire virtual machine and gives you the freedom and flexibility to select the files you want to back up. At the same time, you will need to create a separate virtual machine to install the agent for restoration.

How to perform host level backup

If you need a complete backup solution, you can perform host-level backup. Here are 3 effective ways for you to do so.

Way 1. Windows Server Backup

Windows server backup is a feature that provides a set of wizards and other tools that allow you to perform basic backup and recovery tasks for the server on which the feature is installed.

To use the windows server backup method, you can use the Add feature guide in Server Manager to install it. After that, make sure that the local server or a computer on the LAN has enough disk space for backups. After starting the windows server backup management console, select Local Backup and choose One Time Backup to back up the host.

Note: Before you can use Windows Server Backup, you need to install it.

1. Open Server Manager. On the Dashboard, click Manage on the right side and select Add Roles and Features.


windows server backup

2. Select Backup Configuration, and click Full Server or Custom.

3. Select Specify Destination Type, choose Local drives or Remote hared folder, and click Next.

windows server backup

4. Select Confirmation, choose Backup items, click Backup.

windows server backup

5. When Backup Progress is over, click Close.

windows server backup

Way 2. System Center Data Protection

System center data protection is a reliable method of backing up and restoring systems for enterprises by backing up hosts with system-centric data.

Using System Center Data Protection Manager allows you to do both of host-level and guest-level backups. You need to download the installer from Microsoft's web page, install it on your host, and then you can use it to back up your Hyper-V environment.

1. Click Protection at the bottom and then click New at the top to create a protection group. Read how data protection works, then click Next.

2. Select Servers as the protection group type and click Next.

system center data protection

3. Select the host or virtual machine to backup and click Next. Then name the job and select Backup Storage Type. And click Next, Select the backup strategies and click Next.

4. Select the backup strategies and click Next, select Destination to store the virtual machine backup and click Next.

system center data protection

5. Select the replica creation method and click Next, select the consistency check option and click Next.

system center data protection

6. Review the summary of jobs and click Create Group.

Centralized Backup for Virtual Machines

Data backup is the basis of disaster tolerance, which is the process of copying all or part of a data set to other storage media in order to prevent data loss due to operational errors or system failures. 

AOMEI Cyber Backup can help you solve these problems and keep your data safe. It can automatically backup multiple Hyper-V virtual machines and clearly list all restore points.

Agentless Image Backup: create independent and image-based backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
Support Free ESXi: Support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Various Backup Methods: Besides full backup, you can perform incremental or differential VM backup to capture only changed data and save storage space.
Automated Hot Backup: Auto backup running VMs and notify via email.
Restore from Any Point: Restore a whole VM to usable state from any history backup version.

You can click the following button to download the 30-day free trial.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

And here are the steps on how to quickly create a complete backup job of multiple Hyper-V virtual machines.

Step 1. Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, select Source Device, click VMware/Hyper-V to Add VMware Device/Hyper-V to add a host. And then clickto Bind Device.

bind hyper-v device

Step 2. Create New Backup Task: set Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target and Schedule.

schedule backup

Step 3. Start Backup: click Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

start backup


This article provides a brief introduction to host-level backups. By introducing and comparing host-level backup and guest-level backup, you can fully understand the features and differences between host-level backup and guest-level backup, and choose the right backup method according to your needs.

At the same time, the article also provides ways to perform the host-level backup, which will hopefully help you. As mentioned above, please remember to keep your data safe, while our software can provide centralized agentless backup for you to choose from.

Zelia · Editor
Zelia is an editor from AOMEI Technology.She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. Writing is one of her hobbies and she wants her articles to be seen by more people. In her spare time, she likes to draw and listen to music, and it is a pleasure for her to focus on her own world.