For the past few months, my conscience has been bugging me about backing up my VMs on my host.
Backing up my VMs in Hyper-v was something that I postponed every week, but a few weeks ago I was contacted by my blog sponsor Altaro who asked me if I wanted to write a guide and short review of their product: Altaro VM Backup.
Perfect, I thought, as I would finally be backing up my VMs 🙂
Here is a short feature list of Altaro VM Backup v.7 (source: http://www.altaro.com/vm-backup/features.php)
- Support VMWare & Hyper-V backups
- Augmented inline deduplication
- Leverages Microsoft VSS
- Backup to local drive, network share or offsite backup
- Windows Server 2016 support
- Possibility to encrypt backed up VMs
- Full support for Cluster Shared Volumes & VMware vCenter
- Instantly boot any VM version from the backup location without affecting backup integrity.
- Browse through your Exchange VM backup’s file system and restore individual e-mails
- Granular Restore Options for full VM or individual files or e-mails
- Restore an individual or a group of VMs to a different host
- Easily test the integrity of your backups for peace of mind
Download Altaro VM Backup
Download the 30-day unlimited trial here.
Starting Altaro VM Backup
You are greeted by a welcome screen where you will need to select which Management Console to connect to. It is possible to either connect to your local machine or to a Remote Machine. In my case, I will be connecting to the local machine.
Create a VM backup
1. Create a backup location
Upon launching the Management Console, the first thing we will need to do is to add a backup location. In the screenshot below, I have already added a backup location. To add a backup location, simply press Add Backup Location as marked in the screenshot.
Now you are presented with two options: Physical Drive or Network Path.
Select Physical Drive if you wish to store the VM backups on an internal or external hard drive.
Select Network Path if you wish to store the VM backups on a network location, such as a NAS.
In my case, I added a Physical drive as the backup location.
Altaro VM Backup also supports Offsite backup. To create an offsite backup location, select Add Offsite location to the far right of the same window.
You are now prompted with several options. Select one of the following and press Next.
Note: Altaro Offsite Server is required to replicate VMs to a remote backup location. You will need to download and install the Altaro Offsite Server on the remote machine which will host the backups.
2. Add VMs to a backup location
Once you have created the backup location and you have returned to the Backup Locations node, drag and drop the VMs to the backup location.
3. Configure schedule
The next step is to create a backup schedule for your VMs in order to ensure that your machines are backed up on a regular basis automatically.
Create a schedule that fits your liking and drag and drops your VMs to the Backup Schedule of your choosing.
4. Configure retention policy
Now you will need to determine how long you wish to keep your backups. I will leave the default option, which is two weeks.
5. Configure advanced settings
Configure advanced settings such as deduplication and encryption. I strongly recommend using deduplication as it will drastically reduce the size of your backups.
Select Virtual Machines -> Take Backup and press Take Backup.
In order to take a backup to an offsite location, select Take Offsite Copy.
7. Follow up
Once the backup has completed, follow up on how the backup went, using Reports -> Operations History.
If you go to the destination directory for your backups, you can verify the file size. Because of the deduplication, the VM backups are significantly smaller in size than on the source.
The total size of my virtual drives was 143 GB. The backup is 41 GB, which is a storage space save of 71%.
This can also be seen on the main dashboard when starting Altaro VM Backup :
Restore VM backup
Taking backups is good and all, but the most import thing is being able to restore the backups. Altaro VM Backup supports full restores of the VMs as well as granular file-level restore.
Full VM Restore
In most cases where the VM has stopped working for whatever reason, a Full VM Restore might be a good idea.
1. Select backup location
Start by selecting the backup location.
2. Select VM
Now, select the VM to restore.
3. Restore VM
Select the version of the VM to restore and press Restore.
File Level Restore
Select Restore Source
Start by selecting Restore Source.
Select Virtual Machine
Select the VM from which to extract the file(s) from.
Select Backup Version
Select the version of the backup that you wish to extract the file(s) from.
Select File(s) to Restore
Select the file(s) which you want to restore.
Extract files from backup
Almost there! Now you need to select where to extract the file(s) to. Once selected, press Extract to extract the file(s) to the desired location.
Exchange Item Level Restore
Altaro VM Backup also supports restore of individual e-mails from an Exchange VM using the feature Exchange Item Level Restore. I will not be going into more detail in regards to this feature, as I do not have a source Exchange server.
If you want to verify the integrity of the backup data or perform a full test restore of a VM, this is possible using under the Sandbox & Verification section.
It is also possible to schedule the testing and verification of the backups, using Schedule test drills:
The first thing that hit me with Altaro VM Backup was how simple and easy to use it was.
Without referring to a user guide once during the process, I was able to backup my VMs and created the configurations I needed.
The built-in deduplication is also a nice feature as it saves a ton of space.
So, in conclusion, Altaro VM Backup is an excellent solution if you want to have a hassle-free VM Backup experience.