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Hypervisor Backup Tools: New and Improved methods for virtual machines

You know, it is pretty amazing that over 50% of the servers in the world today are running as virtual machines. This means that they run on top of hypervisors like VMware’s vSphere, Microsoft’s Hyper-V, and Citrix’s XenServer. However, the need to protect data on those virtual machines or to recover individual files hasn’t changed from physical hosts. We will need the ability to recover for various and numerous reasons.

For the most part, the world of virtualization is still new to most Windows Admins and the pursuit for the best way to back up your virtual machines is still being debated in the community. Even though Microsoft has some official documentation on this topic, most people still scratch their head and say “Isn’t there an easier way?” As usual, the answer is.. “It depends!” Service level agreements, data retention requirements and customer expectations normally drive our success in this area.

Hyper-V Backup Tools Types

Anyone who has a backup tool in place today, will probably agree with me that most backup vendors will say, “You don’t need another tool, we can backup everything including Microsoft Hyper-V.” While that might be true for some vendors, I still recommend that you will first need to consider the various types of backup tools that are available to you and test which one works best for you. Currently you have 3 main types:

  • Physical Server Backup Tools — Most traditional physical server backup tools (like Symantec Backup Exec, NetBackup, etc.) can back up virtual machines running in Hyper-V only with agents. This will act just as if they were physical servers. Recently, many of these backup tools have been adapted to communicate directly with the vSphere or Hyper-V servers to back up your virtual machines. While these tools weren’t originally designed as a virtualization backup strategy, they have proven to be a good option, especially for environments with a hybrid (mix of physical and virtual) approach and they give you more flexibility.
  • Multi-Hypervisor Backup Tools — There are a number of tools for a virtualization-specific backup, which was originally designed to back up only the vSphere hypervisor, but they have now been adapted to back up multiple hypervisors platforms, such as Hyper-V and Citrix. For mixed environments, these have also been proven to be excellent options.
  • New Hyper-V Only Backup Tools — Finally, there are a few select tools that were created and designed solely for the purpose of backing up Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines. If you have one or more Hyper-V servers in your environment or if you just want to evaluate some new tools designed just for Hyper-V, these are what you should consider below.

Please note: As always, you must select the best tool for your particular backup needs and data retention policies! So test your ideas before going to production.

Microsoft Hyper-V Only Backup Tools – New and Improved

The last category, we discussed above is directed toward a Microsoft Hyper-V host and here is the list:

5nine Cloud Backup for Hyper-V – is available in both a commercial and a free version, is a backup program for Hyper-V. It was designed with service providers in mind and it has a fully scriptable PowerShell API interface to make it more ideal for them. (It also makes it a good choice for large enterprises as well) Like these other Hyper-V backup tools, Cloud Backup works at the host-level (not the guest) so that image-based backups can be done and will not impact the guest VMs. Microsoft VSS is used to ensure that backups have application integrity and so that these backups can be performed anytime without the requirement for a backup window, and “bare-metal” virtual machine restores can be performed as well.

Altaro Hyper-V Backup – which claims to back up a Microsoft Hyper-V host in just “5 clicks,” this tool will also use Microsoft VSS, plus it will offer you the ability to boot a VM from the backup, file level backup, and also allows for a live backup of Linux VMs. Here’s what it looks like:

 Hyperoo Hyper-V Backup – unlike the other two mentioned Hyper-V backup tools above, Hyperoo is a bit different. Basically it will back up your Hyper-V virtual machines to the Hyperoo cloud service. Instead of buying a backup program, you are buying a monthly license for each of your Hyper-V hosts.

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One Response to “Hypervisor Backup Tools: New and Improved methods for virtual machines”

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