How to Perform vCenter File-Based Backup and Restore

What is vCenter file-based backup, why is it necessary, and how to do it exactly? This article answers these questions and describes the procedures for vCenter file-based backup and restore.


By Crystal / Updated on November 4, 2022

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What is vCenter file-based Backup

Before you update or upgrade vCenter Server, it is necessary to backup vCenter to avoid data loss. With the backup in hand, you can also recover your environment in the event of a disaster.

As you may know, the image-based backup and restore is deprecated since vCenter Server 7.0, and VMware offers a new way for vCenter backup and restore, that is the file-based backup of vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).

This feature is actually available since 6.5, and can be scheduled since 6.7. With it, the new protocols are supported as well: FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, SFTP, NFS, or SMB.

The file-based backup of VCSA is to copy its core configuration, inventory, and historical data of choice such as statistics, events, and task. In this article, I will introduce the procedures of vCenter file-based backup and restore.

Tips: The file-based backup feature requires no quiescing or downtime of the selected appliance because the backup can be performed while the appliance is running.

vcenter file-based backup

How to perform vCenter 7.0 file-based backup and restore

Although you update or upgrade vCenter Server successfully, numerous issues occur afterwards prompting for the requirement of a restore from backup.

A complete vCenter file-based backup helps to restore your environment when needed. Here are the detailed steps to backup vCenter 7.0 and restore from file-based backup to deploy a new appliance.

1. Log into the VMware vSphere Appliance Management Interface (VAMI) as root using the FQDN or the IP address of the vCSA at port 5480.

2. Click Backup >> Configure to set up a backup schedule.

3. Enter the backup details as following.

 Backup location: The backed-up data can be streamed over FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, or SCP to a remote system. Select one of these protocols from the Protocol pull-down menu to store vCenter file-based backup. For example, you can backup vCenter using SMB protocol.

backup vcenter to smb

 Backup server credentials: Enter a user name and password of a user with write privileges on the backup server.

 Schedule: Configure your schedule recurrence and time for the backup. The recurrence can be set daily, weekly, or you can customize the schedule to run the backup on a specific day or days of the week. You can specify the time of day to run the backup.

 Encrypt backup: Encrypt backup with a password if you need.

 Number of backup to retain: Select Retain all backups or enter the number of backups to retain

 Data: Choose to back up the stats, events, and tasks or not.On the right, there is a handy estimate of the size your backup will take up.

 Click Create.

You have created the file-based backup of vCenter Server which can be used to restore vCenter configuration and data

Restore from vCenter file-based backup

The restore procedure has two stages. The first stage deploys a new vCenter Server appliance. The second stage populates the newly deployed vCenter Server appliance with the data stored in the file-based backup.

You can use the vCenter Server appliance GUI installer to restore a vCenter Server as follows.

Stage 1. Deploy a new vCenter Server appliance

1. Mount ISO and Run installation from vcsa-ui-installer\win32\installer.exe. Click Restore.

restore vcenter from backup

2. Enter the location of the backup destination using the following format: Server Address/Path/Backup Folder/subfolder followed by the backup destination credentials.

enter location

3. Provide the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the vSphere ESXi host or management vCenter Server.

specify appliance deployment target settings

4. Select the folder to deploy the vCenter Server Appliance to and click Next. Then select the compute resource.

5. Enter a new VM name and a password.

6. Select the Appliance Size and Storage Size.

select deployment size

7. Select a datastore from the list provided. Then provide the necessary network configuration settings.

8. Review the vCenter Server Appliance settings and click Finish.

9. Then it’s going to deploy the vCenter Server Appliance to the specified deployment target. Next, click Continue to restore vCenter from backup.

Stage 2. Transfer data from file-based backup to the newly deployed appliance

1. In the Introduction step, click Next to proceed with Stage 2.

2. In the Backup details step, enter the credentials to retrieve the backup details. If the backup was performed with encryption, enter the encryption password here also. Click Next.

transfer data from vcenter backup

3. Review your settings and click Finish to complete the wizard. Notice the warning at the bottom of the page that reminds you to shut down the original appliance to avoid network conflicts.

These are the specific steps to perform a vCenter file-based backup, which can restore your environment fast and securely. However, this method does not protect the virtual machines in vCenter. If you want to back up your VMs on a regular basis to avoid data-loss and restore the VMs to a usable state quickly, you can make a dedicated VMware backup solution.

How to easily backup multiple virtual machines under vCenter

vCenter can manage a large number of virtual machines, but to offer complete VM protection, many IT staff prefer a specialized backup software such as AOMEI Cyber Backup, a VMware backup software, which is professional and reliable for VMware and Hyper-V virtual machine backup.

It offers you the following benefits.

Centralized VM Backup: independent image-level VM backups can be used to create new VMs.
 Batch VM Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate virtual machine protection.
Restore Entire VM: restore immediately available VMs from any selected restore points.

AOMEI Cyber Backup

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions. Next, I will demonstrate how to perform backup of multiple VMware ESXi VMs. You can click the following button to download the 30-day free trial.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
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4 simple steps to backup multiple vCenter VMs

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. And then click > Bind Device.

Bind device

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and select VMware ESXi Backup as the Backup Type.

VMware ESXi backup

3. Set Task Name, Device, Target, Schedule, and Cleanup as needed.

▶ Device: navigate to the vCenter Server and select a datastorecenter, it will show all the VMs on the right pane. With one click, you can easily backup multiple virtual machines.

Select virtual machines vCenter

▶ Target: selecting to back up to a local path, or to a network path. Used paths will be saved in Favorite Storage for handy selection.

select backup target

▶ Schedule (optional): performing full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution daily, weekly or monthly according to the frequency you specified.

schedule VM backup

▶ Backup cleanup (optional): Configure a retention policy to auto delete old backup files and save storage space.

backup cleanup

▶ Start Backup: You can click Start Backup and select to Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

4. Restore: Click Restore to recover a virtual machine from backup, saving the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Once the backup task is created, it will be executed automatically according to your schedule. If you want to restore a virtual machine, you can click Restore and choose to restore entire VM to an available state from any historical restore point. In addition to restoring a VM to its original location, you can also choose Restore to new location, which will create a new, identical VM directly from your backup to the target location.

restore VM


This article includes the vCenter file-based backup and restore. The file-based backup and restore operation provides a simple and reliable way to rebuild the vCSA, but it cannot protect virtual machines in vCenter, so it is recommended that you use it in conjunction with a professional virtual machine backup solution to create a complete enterprise data protection strategy.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.