VMware vCenter/ESXi Guest VM Backup & Restore Guide

Overview

What is this software?

CloudBacko Pro is a specialized client backup software to provide a comprehensive backup solution for your VMware virtual machine backup.  The VMware VM module of CloudBacko Pro provides you with a set of tools to protect your virtual machines in VMware environment. This includes a VM backup feature and instant recovery feature (with the use of Run Direct technology), to ensure that mission critical virtual machines are back up and running within minutes of a disaster.

System Architecture

Below is the system architecture diagram illustrating the major elements involved in the backup process among the backup machine, CloudBacko Pro, local storage, and cloud storage.

In this user guide, we will focus on the software installation, as well as the end-to-end backup and restore process using the CloudBacko Pro as a client backup software.

Why should I use CloudBacko Pro to back up my VMware vCenter/ESXi?

We are committed to bringing you a comprehensive VMware backup solution with CloudBacko Pro. Below are some key areas we can help making your backup experience a better one.

Easy Setup & Professional Services

Setup is a few clicks away - our enhanced CloudBacko Pro can be easily downloaded and installed in just a few clicks. The refined user interface also provides user-friendly instructions to guide you through installation, configuration, backup and restore. The intuitive setup procedures together with instructions in this user guide makes the software installation and operations easy even for layman users. That being said, if you do run into any problems during setup, we are here to help out.

Instant VM Restore with Run Direct

What is Run Direct?
Run Direct is a feature that helps reduce disruption and downtime of your production VMs. 

Unlike normal VM restore procedure where a VM is extracted from backup files and copy to the production storage, which can take hours to complete.  Restore with Run Direct can instantly power up a VM by running it directly from the backup files in the backup destination and the VM can be put into production. 

How does Run Direct work?
When a Run Direct restore is performed, the backup destination is mounted as a NFS datastore from the VMware host, where the VM is run directly from the backup files.

The backup destination can either be the AhsayCBS server or a local drive that can connect with CloudBacko Pro. Initiating a Run Direct from the AhsayCBS (also known as agentless restore) will trigger a connection directly with the VMWare host (ESXi server and the direction shown in orange indicator below), while initiating the same action on the CloudBacko Pro requires the connection to route through the OBM (shown in green indication below).

The restored virtual machine, at this stage (e.g. before the restore is finalized) is in a read-only state to preserve its integrity.  All changes made to the virtual disks (e.g. operation within the guest virtual machine) are stored separately in transaction logs stored on the NFS datastore or the original datastore, depending on the setting selected. These changes are discarded when Run Direct is stopped, where the restored VM will be removed and all changes will be discarded, or the changes will be consolidated with the original virtual machine data when the restore is finalized.

Settings Differences between Run Direct and Non-Run Direct Backup Set on VMware

 

Run Direct Backup Set

Non-Run Direct Backup Set

Encryption

NO

YES

Compression

NO

YES

VDDK (CBT)

YES

YES

Local Destination

YES

YES

Cloud Destination

NO

YES


Finalizing a VM Recovery (Migrating VM to permanent location)
To finalize recovery of a VM, you will still need to migrate it to a permanent location on the VMware host.  The following steps are taken when you finalize a Run Direct restore:
  1. VMware Snapshot
    A VMware snapshot is created for the VM
                
  2. Copying Files
    Backup files from the NFS datastore are copied to the production datastore on the VMware host.
                
  3. Copying Changes
    Changes made to the VM after the snapshot creation are moved to the new location.
                
  4. Data Consolidation
    The VM is temporarily suspended to consolidate the changes made after the snapshot creation.
                
  5. Resume VM
    After all changes are consolidated, the VM is resumed.
                
  6. Dismount NFS datastore
    The NFS datastore is dismounted.

Note

For vCenter VM backup set, provided that the vMotion feature of the vCenter set is working properly, the VM will not be suspended during the data consolidation.

Fast and Efficient

We understand that backup could be a time and resources consuming process, which is why CloudBacko Pro is designed with advanced technologies to make backup a fast and efficient process.
We also understand that you may wish to run backup at a specified time interval of your choice, that's why we also allow you to set your own backup schedules so that you can take full control of the time when to perform backup.
  • Multi-threading – this technology utilizes the computing power of multiple CPU cores for creating multiple backup and restore threads to produce fast backup and restore performance.
  • Block Level Incremental Backup – this technology breaks down the backup files into multiple blocks and only the changed blocks will be backed up each time.

Cloud Destinations Backup

To offer you with the highest flexibility of backup destination, you can now back up server data to a wide range of cloud storage destinations. Below is a list of supported cloud destinations.


Aliyun (阿里云) *

CTYun (中国电信天翼云)*

Amazon S3

Amazon Cloud Drive

Google Cloud Storage

Google Drive

OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive / OneDrive for Business

Rackspace

OpenStack

Microsoft Azure

Dropbox

FTP

SFTP

AWS S3 Compatible Cloud Storage

 

* Available on computers with China or Hong Kong local settings

Cloud backup gives you two major advantages:

  • Multi-destination Backup for Extra Protection – you can now back up your VM to both local drive and cloud destination. While local drive backup gives you the convenience of faster backup and restore as a result of the locally resided infrastructure, you can take a further step to utilize the cloud backup to give you an extra layer of protection in the event of a local drive corruption, where you will still be able to retrieve data from the cloud destination.
  • Eliminate Hardware Investment– with the increasingly affordable cloud storage cost, you can deploy on cloud platform and utilize cloud storage as your centralized data repository, or simply expand your cloud storage as a backup destination without having to invest on hardware.

High Level of Security

We understand your VM may contain sensitive information that requires to be protected, that is why your backup data will be encrypted with the highest level of security measure.

  • Un-hackable Encryption Key – to provide the best protection to your backup data, you can turn on the encryption feature which will be default encrypt the backup data locally with AES 256-bit truly randomized encryption key.
  • Encryption Key Recovery – Furthermore, we have a backup plan for you to recover your encryption key in case you have lost it. You backup service provider can make it mandatory for you to upload the encryption key to the centralized management console, the encryption key will be uploaded in hashed format and will only be used when you request for a recovery.

What is the purpose of this document?

This document aims at providing all necessary information for you to get started with setting up your system for VMware VM backup and restore, followed by step-by-step instructions on creating backup set, running backup job and restoring backed up data.

The document can be divided into 3 main parts:

  1. Preparing for VMware VM Backup & Restore
    • Understanding Backup Mode
      Introduce the differences between Non-VDDK and VDDK backup modes
    • Requirements
      Requirements on hardware, software, VMware server, Client Backup Computer, Run Direct, and Non-VDDK/VDDK backup modes
    • Best Practices and Recommendations
      Items recommended to pay attention to before backup and restore
  2. Performing VMware VM Backup
    • Creating a Backup Set
      Log in to CloudBacko Pro and create backup set
    • Running a Backup Set
      Run and backup set & configure backup schedule for automated backup
  3. Performing VMware VM Restore
    • Restoring VM with Run Direct
      Steps on performing a VM restore with Run Direct
    • Restoring VM without Run Direct
      Steps on performing a VM restore without Run Direct

What should I expect from this document?

After reading through this documentation, you can expect to have sufficient knowledge to set up your system to backup VMware VM on CloudBacko Pro, as well as to carry out an end-to-end backup and restore process.

Who should read this document?

This documentation is intended for backup administrators and IT professionals who are responsible for the VMware VM backup and restore.