Tag Archives: Backup

Backup vSphere Cluster with ghettoVCB

The ghettoVCB script is a well known free backup solution for standalone ESXi Hosts created by William Lam. The script works with ESXi 3.x up to ESXi 6.7. It does not support vCenter or cluster backups out of the box but with a little workaround, you can backup virtual machines in a DRS enabled cluster. I'm using this type of backup for a couple of months without issues.

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NAKIVO Backup & Replication 6 Review

nakivo-backupWhile evaluating Backup solutions in my Homelab I recently came across a relatively new vendor, NAKIVO, that caught my attention. NAKIVO, founded in 2012, is currently the fastest growing VM-Backup company and its product is highly optimized for virtualized platforms. I was looking for solution that is easy to deploy and does not require much resources.

NAKIVO Backup & Replication is mainly fround in the SMB market today, but they have some great enterprise grade features like multi-tenancy and a customizable user interface in the latest release.

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Backup Solutions for Free ESXi

VMware offers a free version of their vSphere Hypervisor with some limitations like the lack of vCenter support. Another limitation is that APIs are read-only, so it's not possible to use the Data Protection API aka. VADP to make Backups.

Creating backups of Virtual Machines is also important on standalone ESXi hosts. The API limitation makes it impossible to create incremental CBT aided backups, but it's not impossible to create full copies of virtual machines. The post explains the technique to create backups and takes a look at solution that use these techniques.

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Clone ESXi Installations on SD Cards or USB Flash Drives

If you have ESXi running on a flash media (USB flash drive or SD Card) you might want to create a ready-to-run backup of your host. This posts describes how you can create a backup of your ESXi hosts and create a media with an identical configuration where vicfg-backup is not a solution.

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VMware VDP Required Permissions

In some environments you might have to reduce the permissions given to the vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Backup User to as few as possible. The documentation provided by VMware is a little bit ambiguous on that topic. The permissions given in that post are at least required for the following purposes:

  • VDP backup user (The user that the appliances uses to talk to the vCenter Server)
  • Configure and Add Backup/Restore Jobs
  • See the vSphere Data Protection button in the vSphere Web Client

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vSphere Data Protection 5.1 - Installation Issues

After deploying the new vSphere Data Protection virtual appliance i faced an issue with the login. The root password was neither mentioned during the installation video nor in the quick start guide. I found the password in the administration guide.

For everyone facing the same problem: The standard root password for the vSphere Data Protection 5.1 Appliance is: changeme Read more »

VMware vSphere 5.1 - What's new?

VMware is about to release vSphere 5.1 with great enhancements. There are many great papers about the new features and enhancements. This is a short overview containing the greatest changes:

  • Virtual machines can now have up to 64 vCPUs and 1TB of Memory
  • A new Features called zero-downtime migration allows vMotion without shared storage.
  • EMC Avamar based backup solution replaces vSphere Data Recovery
  • vSphere Replication enables replication between hosts at virtual machine level
  • vSphere Web Client is the new core administrative interface for vSphere
  • Newsley designed vCenter Orchestrator workflow
  • Better ESXi User Management. No shared-root required anymore
  • New auditing features can monitor and audit DCUI and shell activity per user
  • The new Sparese Disk allows to reclaim previously used space within the guest OS
  • VXLAN (Virtual eXtensible LAN) enables support for scalable multitenant networks
  • vCenter Server can now run on the VSA Cluster itsself

There are many great features like zero-downtime migration, vSphere Replication or the VSA enhancements for smaller environments. I am also looking forward for the new Avamar backup solution which replaces the VDR, which is effectively useless in larger deployments. The new Orchestrator workflow design might make the product more popular.


What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.1
What’s New in VMware vCenter 5.1
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.1 – Networking
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.1 – Platform
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.1 – Storage
What’s New in VMware vSphere 5.1 – Performance
What’s new in VMware vSphere Storage Appliance

VDCD510 Objective 2.6 – Build Recoverability Requirements into the Logical Design

During the business continuity plan creation it is necessary to define the key metrics of recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). These two terms are used to define how fast a backup can be restored and the amount of data loss.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO): The time it takes to recover from a data loss event. This is the amount of time while the systems or service is unavailable.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO): The amount of time between backups. Leads to the possible amount of data loss.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery refers to previously defined steps taken by administrators to resume services or systems after a disaster event.

Business continuity is a high level overview of processes to ensure that an organization can resume their business after a disaster.

VMware offers a great free course about this topic: DRBC Design - Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Fundamentals

VCAP5-DCD Exam Blueprint v1.1


  • Understand what recoverability services are provided by VMware solutions.
  • Identify and differentiate infrastructure qualities (Availability, Manageability, Performance, Recoverability, Security)
  • Differentiate Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery concepts.
  • Describe and differentiate between RTO and RPO

Skills and Abilities

  • Given specific RTO and RPO requirements, build these requirements into the logical design.
  • Given recoverability requirements, identify the services that will be impacted and provide a recovery plan for impacted services.
  • Given specific regulatory compliance requirements, build these requirements into the logical design.
  • Based on customer requirements, identify applicable site failure / site recovery use cases.
  • Determine recoverability component of SLAs and service level management processes.
  • Based on customer requirements, create a data retention policy.


Back to VCAP5-DCD Study Guide

First Look: Veeam Backup & Replication 6.1

Veeam has recently published a new version of its Backup Software: Veeam Backup & Replication Version 6.1. The last version I evaluated was around 2010. Back then it was definitely a great tool, but as my main environment is Linux based and veeam was lacking some features there I decided to stick with my old backup strategy.

Today I want to renew my view and test their current product. Please note that this review is focused on backing up Linux guests. Nevertheless if you are a Windows Admin, feel free to read on if you want to know why it sometimes could be a pain to backup Linux guests with VMware.

The first thing I am going to do is to just download the software and check out how intuitive the installation and configuration process will be. Later I am going to dig deeper into the functionality.

Part 1 – First Backup Job
Before we can start the installation we need to download the software. Downloading is very easy as veeam only provides one package, so the only decision is whether you need the 32-bit or the 64-bit version. Go to www.veam.com > Products > Veeam Backup & Replication > Download and select your architecture. You need to register to download anything, but it is free and quite quick.

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Filesystem consistent Linux Backups with VMware

Life is easy if you are running Windows because if you want to create image-based VMware Backups with Veeam Backup & Replication, Quest vRanger, PHD Virtual or any other VADP using competitor you can use VSS. Backing up Linux is much more complex as there is no equivalent. What you get are crash consistent copys from your virtual disks. After some research i couldn't find any established solution. This is the backup vendors answer (I am not talking about application aware backups as this is another problem):

veeam Backup & Replication v6
Veeam refers to the "Enable VMware tools quiescence" option. But is this true? Yes, there is this option and you can enable it. But the vmsync driver inside you virtual machine is disabled by default. So if you activate "Quiesce", nothing actually happens. The backup succeeds but all you get is an inconsistent state.
Source: User Guide

Quest vRanger 5.3.1
The solution Quest provides is only a small hint: Install VMware Tools, create freeze Scripts and enable Guest Quiescing. But who will support my custom script?
Source: Quest Solution SOL84967

PHD Virtual Backup
PHD Virtual does not provide any information about consistent linux backup. The only thing i could find was a note "Quiesce? Windows only!"

Possible Solution?

So, how to create a filesystem consistent linux backup with veeam, vRanger or PHD virtual? As every vendor is doing the same -triggering the VMware API-  the answer is identical. But first let's have a look at the basics. What do i have to do to get a consistent state? And how can i determine that my backup is consistent?

An inconsistent filesystem has to be recovered prior to mount. Using dmesg you can determin whether is was consistent or not:

Consistent filesystem mount:

root@ubuntu:~# dmesg |grep EXT
 [3.711991] EXT4-fs (dm-0): mounted filesystem with ordered data mode. Opts: (null)
 [7.685314] EXT4-fs (dm-0): re-mounted. Opts: errors=remount-ro

Inconsistent filesystem mount:

 root@ubuntu:~# dmesg |grep EXT
 [3.780568] EXT4-fs (dm-0): INFO: recovery required on readonly filesystem
 [3.780855] EXT4-fs (dm-0): write access will be enabled during recovery
 [4.153234] EXT4-fs (dm-0): recovery complete
 [4.178622] EXT4-fs (dm-0): mounted filesystem with ordered data mode. Opts: (null)
 [8.058018] EXT4-fs (dm-0): re-mounted. Opts: errors=remount-roThis test was made with the current Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Solution 1: Custom fsfreeze Script

The fsfreeze command suspends and resumes the access to an filesystem. After suspendig the access, the volume is in an consistent state and can be copied. Please note that fsfreeze is a recently published tool and not available on older systems.
1. Install VMware Tools

2. Create custom scripts:

root@ubuntu:~# touch /usr/sbin/pre-freeze-script
root@ubuntu:~# touch /usr/sbin/post-thaw-script

3. Edit both scripts and add your mountpoints. Your file should look like (Only one mount):

root@ubuntu:~# cat /usr/sbin/pre-freeze-script
 fsfreeze -f /
 root@ubuntu:~# cat /usr/sbin/post-thaw-script
 fsfreeze -u /

4. Make both files executable:

root@ubuntu:~# chmod 755 /usr/sbin/pre-freeze-script
root@ubuntu:~# chmod 755 /usr/sbin/post-thaw-script

5. Activate "Quiesce" Option in your backup client

During backup the backup client triggers the vCenter server to make a snapshot with the "quiesce" option. This involves both scripts to freeze and unfreeze the write IOs on the filesystem during the snapshot creation.

Solution 2: vmsync

As mentioned above VMware has created a sync driver that allows to create consistent backups. Unfortunately i couldn't find any information about this driver and it is disabled by default, giving a small explanation:

[EXPERIMENTAL] The VMware FileSystem Sync Driver (vmsync) is a new feature that
creates backups of virtual machines. Please refer to the VMware Knowledge Base
for more details on this capability. Do you wish to enable this feature?

This comment emphasizes that this feature is not supported at the moment. I also couldn't find this Knowledge Base details.

To enable vmsync driver you have to enable it during the installation, or run vmware-config-tools.pl later:

root@ubuntu12:~# vmware-config-tools.pl

Making sure services for VMware Tools are stopped.

vmware-tools stop/waiting

[EXPERIMENTAL] The VMware FileSystem Sync Driver (vmsync) is a new feature that
 creates backups of virtual machines. Please refer to the VMware Knowledge Base
 for more details on this capability. Do you wish to enable this feature?
 [no] yes

After activating vmsync and "quiesce" option in your backup client you can create consistent backups. I have tested both solutions in testing environments with Ubuntu 12 and RHEL6 systems and was able to create consistent backups. But please note that this is not supported by VMware or any Backup Vendor. So please test it out before you roll it out into production.