This content is part of the Essential Guide: FAQ: Backing up virtual servers today
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Using deduplication when backing up virtual machines

Independent backup expert Brien Posey discusses using deduplication when backing up virtual machines in this Expert Answer.

Our readers frequently report that they have to back up too much virtual server data. How does dedupe figure into the virtual server backup picture?

Virtual server environments can benefit tremendously from deduplication. Administrators typically try to reduce the administrative burden by keeping virtual machines as consistent as possible. This means that a large number of an organization's VMs might run a common operating system, use a common set of patches, or run a common set of infrastructure applications (such as backup agents or antivirus agents). This consistency means that there is redundancy among virtual machines.

Source-side deduplication can be used to ensure that only unique storage blocks are backed up, so long as the virtual machines share a common storage mechanism. That alone can go a long way toward making VM backups more efficient. Target-side deduplication can also be used to decrease backup storage consumption by eliminating cross-host or cross-storage pool duplication that is not addressed by source-side deduplication.

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