By Crystal / Last Updated April 25, 2022

What is VMware ESXi bare metal backup

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 perform bare metal backup in VMware ESXi

Is there a convenient way to back up ESXi bare metal? For bare metal backup, you can use the built-in tool or third-party tools depending on how many devices you want to 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 ESXi host configuration backup, 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 virtual machine backup. 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 so as 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 AOMEI Cyber Backup. It is a professional backup software which supports various versions including ESXi 6.0-7.0. It offers automated backup task and instant disaster recovery. You are able to backup your unlimited virtual machines with flexible strategies.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi 6.0 & later versions
Secure Download

If you want to protect the security of your virtual machines comprehensively, please refer to the follwoing staps.

1. Add devices: download AOMEI Cyber Backup and click Source Device >> Add VMware ESXi.

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 backup method as full / incremental / differential backup and specify time to run the backup.

schedule backup

★Select Backup Cleanup policy.

cleanup backup files

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

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

Tips: You can choose to Restore to original location or Restore to new location. It allows you to migrate your ESXi data to another host easily and quickly. It saves time to receate or configure ESXi virtual machines

restore VM

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 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 virtual machine, 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 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

ESXi host configuration backup is to back up 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 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 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, VMware ESXi bare metal backup is explained 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.