If you’re running virtual machines in your organization, you are more likely to be using VMware or Hyper-V. With the number of Hyper-V users increasing rapidly, here are a few tips for you to get started in data protection.

Backing up your Hyper-V virtual machines is the best preventive measure you can put up against data threats. It gives you the scope to roll back in time to restore your system to a particular point before the threat wiped out your data.

So, what options do we have?

  • The free-yet-inefficient way: You manually take the VM’s files to another location
  • Create Checkpoints
  • Export the Virtual Machine
  • It’s-native-and-does-the-job way: You use Microsoft’s own backups
  • The best way: Leverage a third-party backup tool

1. Stop-Copy-Transfer (Manual backups)

Your aim is to have a copy of your virtual machine’s files like hardware configuration, operating system, saved-state files, virtual hard disks, and network configuration files to another site.

There are two ways to do this: Hot and Cold

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Hot and Cold backup:

To expand, Cold Backup involves stopping the virtual machine and copying the files.

Although you can script these actions, you will suffer a downtime that feels like forever. When it comes to critical machines that need continuous uptime, this is the least efficient mode of backups.

The good thing is that it doesn’t cost you anything. But, as previously said, downtime costs you indirectly.

It makes you wonder, how do I backup my VMs without interrupting operations? Or in other words, how do I perform Hot Backup?

You can perform using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).

The Volume Shadow Copy Service Way

If your guest OS is Windows, you can take the VSS way of backing up your VMs.

This can be done in two ways:

    a. Saved State Method – The virtual machine is basically put into a Saved State before the snapshot processing happens.

    b. Child VM Snapshot method – VSS inside the child VM can be utilized for backup. Backup Integration Service should be installed in the child VM. The VSS Requestor and VSS Writer coordinate to get a stable image of the VM.

2. Create Checkpoints

Hyper-V Checkpoint allows you to create a point-in-time snap of your virtual machine and gives the ability to roll back to the previous state quickly and easily.

Never treat Checkpoints as Backups

Checkpoints are stored on the Hyper-V host storage. That means, If you lose storage that contains the Hyper-V virtual machine hard disk files, then the checkpoints will be lost as well.

Backups of Hyper-V virtual machines using any third-party tool allows you to store the data in a way that has no reliance on Hyper-V infrastructure. This allows you to restore the Hyper-V virtual machines in a disaster recovery scenario whereas Checkpoints don’t allow it. That’s why you should not rely on Checkpoints for backups.

Know more on How to use Hyper-V Virtual Machines Checkpoints

3. Export the Virtual Machine

Exporting a VM involves creating a copy of VM configuration files, VHD files, and VM snapshots in another location. The export of a VM can be done either when the VM is in running state or stopped state.

The exported Hyper-V VM files can be imported into the same hyper-v host or a new host and the virtual machine can be created.

Know more about How to Export and Import Hyper-V Virtual Machines.

Best way to backup Hyper-V virtual machines – Hyper-V host-level backups

Virtual machines contain units that have their hardware configuration, OS and services.

When backing up these virtual machines, you can back up each one of them as if it were a separate machine or backup all the virtual machines at once directly from the host.

But imagine backing up 10 – 15 VMs manually and individually. It takes a toll on your machine’s I/O operations and on your sanity.

There’s a simpler alternative – Host-level backup. Here, you back up all the virtual machines directly from the host without installing any agents inside the virtual machine.

4. Microsoft’s Backup for VMs

Microsoft has the System Center Data Protection Manager to backup the virtual machine’s data from the host level. DPM uses block-based synchronization to take a copy of the VM. Using Hyper-V APIs, the DPM determines whether the VMs support VSS. If they do, then the Child VM method is used to take the backup and if not, the machine is just stopped to take a snapshot.

5. Third-party backup for Hyper-V virtual machines

We’re now at a point in virtualization, where you may be using multiple hypervisors in your environment. A native backup solution doesn’t cut it when you have a mixed environment.

You may also look for extensive reporting, flexible scheduling and disaster recovery options.

What if you want to back up critical files on a different schedule and backup applications with consistent backups while also going for image-based backups for your physical machines?

And while doing all these, you also want to experience agentless backups of your VMs from VMware and Hyper-V hypervisors?

When you are looking for so much more than what Microsoft’s native backup offers, it is best for you to go for a third-party tool.

A third-party solution can give you the flexibility, control and monitoring options when you have varied data protection requirements. You’ll be able to use a single solution to address many of your backup needs.

Vembu BDR Suite is a one-stop solution for the Backup & DR needs of diverse IT environments that include VMware VMs, Hyper-V VMS, physical Servers and Workstations – Windows, Linux, Mac, AWS EC2 instances, Azure VMs, Google VMs, Office 365 and G Suite.

Vembu Backup for Microsoft Hyper-V

With Vembu’s Hyper-V Backup, you can back up all the virtual machines in your Hyper-V servers without installing an agent in each VM.

Key Functionalities:

Hyper-V VM Backup – Supports backup of Hyper-V VMs running on Hyper- Cluster, CSV, Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) and SMB Shares

Incremental Backups – Vembu utilizes Microsoft’s RCT, Vembu CBT, and checksum to perform Hyper-V incremental backups

Application-Aware Backups – Create application-consistent backups of VMs running Microsoft Exchange, SQL, AD, Sharepoint

Instant Boot VM – Resume operations of your crashed VM with instant recovery and meet RTO<15 minutes Granular Recovery – Instantly restore required files/folders or MS application items without restoring the entire VM

Flexible scheduling – Run backups as frequently as every 15 minutes to achieve low RPO. You can also schedule backups Hourly/Daily/Weekly

Retention policy – Retain restore points spanning days, weeks, months or years with basic and advanced retention

Automatic backup verification – Your backups are verified for recoverability with a 3-tier test – Boot, Mount and Data Integrity test

Disaster Recovery – Create a copy of your backups to a remote site or Public cloud like AWS/Azure/Google or Vembu Cloud for disaster recovery purposes. You can also archive your Hyper-v VM data on Tape drives

These features allow extremely efficient and effective data protection for your Hyper-V environment.

With Vembu BDR Suite – Free Edition, you can backup and protect Unlimited Hyper-V VMs at zero cost. This free edition includes Full-feature for up to 10 VMs and limited features for the rest of the VMs.

Download Vembu BDR Suite – Free Edition and try for yourself. Experience modern data protection for your environment.

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