By Alison / Last Updated February 2, 2023

The benefits of VMware backup schedule

The importance of VMware backup needs no further elaboration, especially when you have a lot of virtual machines with critical data. But if you have tried backing them up manually, you'll see how laborious it is, not to mention the hassle of repeated setup and the risk of operational errors. In this case, a VMware backup schedule will be a big help.

VMware Backup Schedule

The primary goal of a backup schedule is to establish a frame to take VMware snapshot or file backup automatically, which helps to reduce administrative costs, and facilitate operations such as:

Unattended backups - You don't need to be at the machine all the time. Tasks can be executed automatically.
Disaster recovery - Whenever your system and data go down, you can quickly restore them to a working state.
Restore from latest point - Avoid the situation where you can only restore to a very early point in time. Instead, you can simply go back to any scheduled point to minimize the loss.

In this article, I will introduce how to create a VMware backup schedule to build your automatic backup mechanism.

How can you create a VMware ESXi backup schedule

VMware backup schedule ensures timely preservation of the latest data, and saves your time & effort. But given the differences between physcial and virtual machines, the method of automatic VM backup is also different.

Here are 3 methods for your reference:

If you only need some temporary restore points, you can create a scheduled task of snapshots for ESXi (Method 1); Or you can use the vCenter Backup Schedule feature to create automated file-based backups (Method 2).

If you don't have a vCenter Server or would prefer to create image-based backups that can restore entire VMs, you may need a specialized VM backup solution (Method 3) for better support.

VMware ESXi logo

In this article, I will introduce you how to create a VMware backup schedule in these 3 ways.

Method 1. Take snapshots regularly via VMware ESXi scheduled task

Although VMware snapshots and clones cannot replace backups, they are still convenient and effective features for protecting VM data. VMware ESXi Scheduled Tasks feature allows you to setup recurring snapshots or clone scheduled tasks. But one task can only correspond to one object. You need to create separate tasks for each VM.

In the following, I will elaborate on the procedure to create VMware ESXi scheduled backup (snapshot).

Note: It is not recommended by VMware to schedule multiple tasks simultaneously on the same object.

How to schedule VMware snapshot via vSphere Web Client:

1. Access VMware vSphere Web Client, select the virtual machine you want to back up from the left inventory.

2. Click Monitor > Tasks & Events, and select Scheduled Tasks on the left.

3. Click Schedule a New Task on the right side of the page to open a dropping menu, select the tasks you want to create. Here I select Take Snapshot as an example.

Create new scheduled task

4. In the pop-up Take a VM Snapshot wizard (scheduled), Edit Settings page, provide a name and description for the snapshots.

Edit settings

5. Turn to Scheduling options page, provide a name and description for this task.

6. Click Change next to Configured Scheduler to set a frequency. You can choose to Run this action now, after setup, later, setup a recurring schedule for this action as hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly.

Configure scheduler

7. You can also choose to send email to a specified address when the task is complete.

8. Click OK to save the setup.

Scheduling options

9. Back to Scheduled Tasks page, you can find the created tasks in Task list. Select the task and click the Run button (green triangle) to execute the scheduled task.

Run the scheduled task

10. As you can see, you can also choose to Edit or Remove the tasks later.

Method 2. Schedule file-based backup in VMware vCenter

For most times, image-based backups are more recommended than file-based backups, because they back up the entire VM which is helpful for disaster recovery. However, if you only want to back up part of the data, file-based backup can provide you with a more granular operation.

Fortunately, if you are using vSphere 6.7 or later version, you can use the Backup Schedule in VMware vCenter to create automated file-based backup. The protocols supported for backups are FTPS, HTTPS, SCP, FTP, and HTTP.

How to create VMware backup schedule via vCenter Server:

1. Access vCenter Server Management Interface by browsing out to https://appliance-IP-address-or-FQDN:5480, and login as root.

2. Click Backup on the left menu. In this page, you can also perform single backup by clicking Backup Now.

This time we click Configure button on the right corner in Backup Schedule section to create a VMware backup schedule.

Configure backup schedule

3. In the pop-up page, set up the following configurations:

  • Backup location: Backup server name and path
  • Backup server credentials: Username and Password of the credentials to authenticate.
  • Schedule: How often to perform the backup. You can choose Daily, Weekly, or Custom the specific days in one week as you like.
  • Encrypt backup (optional): You can also encrypt the backup if needed.
  • Number of backups to retain: You can choose to retain all backups, or specify how many latest backups will be stored. The older backups will be automatically deleted.
  • Data: Which data you want to back up.

4. Click Create to save the setup. This way you can create a VMware vcsa scheduled backup.

Create backup schedule

5. Now you can click Status to check the VMware backup schedule. You can also Edit, Disable, or Delete the schedule later by clicking the buttons on the right upper corner.

Check status

Method 3. Schedule image-based backup for VMware and Hyper-V

Since VMware Scheduled Tasks can only snapshots or clone tasks and vCenter Server can only create file-based VMware backup schedule, if you want to created image-based VM backup schedule, the left option is dedicated backup tools.

Here I introduce you to a free VMware backup software -- AOMEI Cyber Backup. It offers you the following benefits.

◆ Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi VMs.
◆ Automated Execution: automate unattended virtual machine protection and notify by email.
◆ Restore Entire VM: restore immediately available VMs from any selected restore points.
◆ Support Free ESXi: AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
◆ Perpetual Free: you can use AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition with no time limit.

AOMEI Cyber Backup simplifies VM backup into 4 steps, allowing you to quickly backup multiple VMs, no matter they are running or not.

It supports VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions. Here I will demonstrate how to create a VMware backup schedule.

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
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*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

How to create automatic VMware backup schedule

1. Bind Devices: Access 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.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Tasks: Navigate to Backup Task and click + Create New Task to open the wizard. Specify Task Name, Backup Type, Device and Target on the pop-up tab.

vmware esxi backup

3. Then you can set up the automated tasks. This step is optional, you can also Turn off them as you want.

Set Backup Schedule: choose to perform Full, Incremental or Differential backup every Day, Week or Month.

backup schedule

  • By selecting Every Day, you can specify start time, end time and intervals.
  • By selecting Every Week, you can specify weekdays and start time to perform full backups and differential or incremental backups respectively.
  • By selecting Every Month (By week), based on an intuitive list of weeks, you can specify multiple different weekdays start time to perform different types of backups.
  • By selecting Every Month (By Date), you can specify random dates and start time to perform different types of backups.

5. Now click Start Backup. By enabling backup schedule, you can Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

start backup

While the Free Edition covers most of VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to enjoy:
Batch VM Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or 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.

backup cleanup

With AOMEI Cyber Backup you can quickly complete automatic backup schedule of multiple VMs. In addition, you can create sub-accounts with limited privileges, to further protect your VMs from accidental mis-operations.

What is the best VMware backup schedule for small business

Due to the diversity of data types, there is no standard scheme for backup schedules here. But whether you want to schedule VMware backup or other data types, there are some general rules to follow. Here I've compiled some tips.

How many backup schedules should I create

💬 It is best to create different schedules depending on the importance and the frequency of changes, so that you can try to recover from recent restore points and reduce the loss of important data in case of a disaster.

With professional backup utility, you can easily create multiple schedules with different configurations. After only one sophisticated setup, all subsequent backups can be performed automatically as scheduled, giving you more flexible data recovery options.

❔ What is the 3-2-1 backup rule and why is it important

💬 According to the 3-2-1 backup rule, it is recommended to make 3 backup copies in total, 2 for local storage and 1 for off-site storage. You must admit that it's less likely to lose data when it's saved in multiple places. And when choosing storage devices, you need also consider their ability to cope with different types of risks.

3-2-1 backup rule

For example, data stored on local disk may be corrupted by a single system error, and some malfunction may also cause its loss. Then how about external device? It is independent of the OS, yet it‘s also subject to hardware failure or human damage. At this point, choosing 2 different local devices while keeping 1 offsite copy will greatly improve the data security.

To put it simply, the 3-2-1 data backup strategy may be one of the most widely-accepted backup strategies. It ensures that all important data can be recovered in whichever disaster situation.

Which backup method should I choose

💬 A method like snapshots is also seen as a means of backup in a broad sense, but it can affect VM performance in the long run. If you need backups for long-term storage, then you need to choose other reliable backup methods. Whereas for a true backup, it usually comes in 3 types - full, incremental and differential.

◇ Full backup: Complete backup of the operating system, applications, and all data on the virtual machine.
◇ Incremental backup: Back up only the data that has changed from the last backup. Restore requires the full backup plus all subsequent incremental backups.
◇ Differential backup: Back up only the data that has changed since the last full backup. Restore requires the full backup plus the last differential backup.

full vs incremental vs differential backup

From the description, it is easy to see that whichever type you choose, the first backup must be a full backup. With this as a basis, you can choose to do incremental/differential backup or another full backups at a later date. 

In terms of VMware scheduled backup, many users would like to schedule incremental or differential backup as it obviously saves backup time or space. 

What is the best time to schedule VMware backup

💬 Is there an optimal point in time to schedule a backup? Well, what can be sure is that do not schedule full backups of large data during business hours. If you must back up during the workday, choose to perform incremental backups (or differential backup) during the day and run full backups at night.

Although many tools are available today to perform hot backups without shutting down the virtual machine, you need to know that backups are bound to take up computer resources, so the performance of the machine may be more or less affected during the backup.

Summary

Currently there is no real backup option built in ESXi to create a VMware backup schedule. What you can do is to create schedule in vSphere Web Client to schedule VMware snapshot, and to create file-based VMware backup schedule using vCenter Server.

If you want to create image-based VM backup schedule, I recommend you AOMEI Cyber Backup. It allows you to automate backup tasks with 4 simple steps, which can greatly promote efficiency.