How to Perform VMware ESXi bare metal backup | VM & Host

Bare metal backup is necessary to restore bare metal to another host quickly and securely. This article introduces comprehensive information on how to achieve VMware ESXi bare metal backup and restoration conveniently.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

What is VMware ESXi bare metal backup

Type 1 hypervisors are also known as bare-metal hypervisors, since they run directly on the host’s physical hardware without loading the attack-prone underlying OS. Bare metal backup is a process of backing up the entire system’s data which includes drivers, programs, information structure, even the OS itself.

For bare metal backup in VMware ESXi, the advantage is that it allows fast and secure recovery if you plan to back up or migrate your ESXi bare metal to another host, which is important for enterprise. The backup process is easier and faster than setting up a new computer, and it is also safe for getting rid of infected files.


How to backup bare metal VM in VMware ESXi

Is there a convenient way to backup bare metal VM in VMware ESXi ? For bare metal backup, you can use the built-in tool or third-party tools depending on how many devices you want to back up. If you want to achieve multiple management of devices, you are suggested to choose a professional software for a convenient backup.

If you only own 1 or 2 devices, you can clone virtual machines, copy virtual machine disk files and export virtual machine as OVF template to complete ESXi backup. At the same time, to back up VMware ESXi host configuration, you can use ESXi Command line, vSphere CLI or vSphere PowerCLI.

This page will introduce the detailed steps to achieve ESXi bare metal backup using built-in feature and professional software.

Can you use snapshots for bare metal backup? 

When mentioned backup, some of you may ask: is it possible to use snapshots for bare metal backup? The answer is “NO”. Snapshots do not equal to backup. Although it can capture the state of VM at a specific time, it is not wise to use VMware snapshots to restore bare metal VM. The reasons are as following:

  • Risk from snapshot recovery: Restoring from snapshot is risky since snapshots rely on the parent disk. If the parent disk is damaged, the snapshots will be impacted as well, so you may fail to use snapshots of an ESXi virtual machine for restoration to another host.
  • Poor performance on the original VM: No more than 2-3 snapshots for a virtual machine and keep it within 72 hours. Otherwise, it will run out of your disk space to poor the performance of VM.

In the following parts, you will learn how to back up ESXi virtual machine and host configuration step by step, as well as its restoration procedures.

Method 1. Use backup software to manage multiple virtual machines

In order to simplify backup process, this part will introduce how to back up ESXi virtual machine conveniently with free VMware backup tool - AOMEI Cyber Backup. The professional and free backup software supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi including ESXi 6.0-7.0, and it offers automated backup task and instant disaster recovery. You are able to backup your multiple virtual machines with its flexible strategies, and monitor the status with email notifications if there's an error.

With AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition, you can enjoy these features easily.

Perpetual Free: no time limit for AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition.
Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Easy-to-use: backup and restore multiple virtual machines via central console without complicated configuration and reinstallation.
Secure VM Backup: schedule VMware or Hyper-V virtual machine backups and perform hot backup to protect crucial data continuously without human errors.
Instant Disaster Recovery: instantly restore the whole virtual machine to the previous state from any selected history version.
Role-Assignment: allow one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privilege, effectively reduce administration cost and manual errors.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup for free:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

How to back up multiple VMware ESXi VMs centrally:

1. Add devices: download AOMEI Cyber Backup and click Source Device >> VMware >> + Add VMware Device to add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host as the source device.

add VMware device

2. Create backup task: click Backup Task >> Create New Task.

★ Enter task name and select virtual machines and destination for backup.

select multiple VMs

★ Schedule: schedule backup as full / incremental / differential backup and specify time to run the backup.

schedule backup

★ After configuring the backup task, review the information and click Start Backup.

3. Restore: click “”>> Restore to select restoration content and destination.

You can choose to Restore to original location. It allows you to recover your ESXi data easily and quickly. It saves time to recreate or configure ESXi virtual machines.

restore VM

✍ While the Free Edition covers most of the 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 standalone ESXi hosts.
✦ Backup Cleanup: Specify retention policy to delete unwanted VM backups automatically, thus saving storage space and cost.
✦ Restore to new location: Easily make a clone of a virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host, without reinstalling or configuring a new VM.

restore VM to another host

Method 2. Clone virtual machine with vCenter

If you are available to vCenter, you can simply clone virtual machine for backup in VMware ESXi.

1. Log in vSphere Client, and access to vCenter. Right-click the VM and select Clone >> Clone to Virtual Machine to open a wizard, and do as following.

2. Select a name and folder: Enter a name and select a location folder to deploy the new virtual machine. Then click Next.

3. Select a compute source: choose a destination compute resource in the box, and click Next.

4. Select storage: select virtual disk format as Same format as source and VM storage Policy as Keep existing VM storage policies. Then select a datastore with sufficient storage for the new VM. Click Next.


5. Select clone options: you can select customize the guest operating system, customize the virtual machine's hardware, and power on the virtual machine when you complete the creation procedure.


6. Ready to complete: Review all the setting you made, if no problem, click Finish to complete the process.

After completing the cloning process, you can notice that a new virtual machine is created instantly. But, if you are preparing backups for further use, it may not suit you.

Method 3. Copy virtual machine disk files

If you cannot access to vCenter, you can back up the original VM files in datastore to create a new one. Please refer to the following steps to back up VM in VMware ESXi.

1. Before you starting creating a copy, please shut down your VM first.

2. Navigate to Storage in ESXi Web Client, and click Datastore browser to open a new wizard.


3. Click Create directory to store VM files and type a name.

4. Go back to the original VM folder and select the .vmx files and .vmdk files for creating a new VM. Then click Copy them to the new folder you created before.


After copying the virtual machine files in the datastore, you are able to restore VM for VMware ESXi bare metal using this new copy folder.

1. Click Create / Register VM.

2. In New virtual machine page, select Register an existing virtual machine to open a new wizard.

☞ On Select creation type page: select Register an existing virtual machine.

☞ On Select VMs for registration page: find the copy folder and select it.

☞ On Ready to complete page: view all information, and click Finish.

Method 4. Export virtual machine as OVF template

1. Before you start exporting VM from ESXi, please ensure you have committed all snapshots and shut down the VM to avoid data loss. Meanwhile, verify the VM is not encrypted.

2. Right click the VM >> Export >> Save File (twice), then you can notice the process of download of the .vmdk file and .ovf file in the Recent tasks section.



After exporting the VM as an OVF file, you can simply import the file to restore VM as the following.

☞ Click Create/Register VM. In the opening wizard, click Deploy a virtual machine from an OVF file, then click Next.


☞ Type a name for the virtual machine, then select the .vmdk file and .ovf file you exported before. Click Next.

☞ Specify a datastore with sufficient storage for the new VM. Click Next

☞ Keep the deployment option as default. Click Next

☞ Check the settings, and click Finish.

How to backup VMware ESXi host configuration

Backing up VMware ESXi host configuration is to back up the host boot loader and boot library partitions, host status, extensions and patches, and log files.

Generally, it is recommended to configure the host after restoring ESXi virtual machine since sitting up a new host is rather easy than backup.

However, if you do want to back up your ESXi host configuration, you could directly use third-party tools or official tools such as ESXi Command line, vSphere CLI, vSphere PowerCLI.

Here I will make a brief introduction about host configuration backup methods.


Method 1. ESXi command line

Using ESXi command line to back up VMware ESXi host configuration is economical since you do not have to install additional software. When using it, you should enable ESXi shell and remote SSH. When you plan to restore ESXi host configuration to another host, please ensure that the destination computer have installed the same version of ESXi.

Method 2. vSphere CLI

vSphere CLI is different from vSphere PowerCLI. You can install vSphere CLI on a computer running Linux or Windows to manage ESXi hosts remotely.

Method 3. vSphere PowerCLI

If you are using Windows, you can install PowerCLI on your computer first, and run it as administrator and connect it with your ESXi Server.

Detailed backup procedures could be found in this page: 3 Quick Ways for VMware ESXi Backup Host Configuration


In this article, I have introduced VMware ESXi bare metal backup in detail. These methods mentioned above help a lot to create a new bare metal without complicated process of system and programs reinstallation, and also protect your important data.

With VM backups, you can securely restore VMware VM from backup when the original VM corrupts.

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.