VMware backup is the copying of data on a virtual machine (VM) in a VMware environment to prevent data loss. VMware backup, and virtual server backup in general, is a common challenge for storage and backup administrators.
VMware backup can be accomplished using conventional backup software. While this is the most straightforward approach, it can lead to resource contention. The additional resources needed to execute a backup may compromise VM performance on the physical server being backed up.
VMware-specific backup products, which capture point-in-time snapshots of the entire virtual machine state, address the issue of resource contention. This allows for fast complete restoration of a VM. However, users typically have to restore the entire snapshot, even if only one file is lost or corrupted. VMware-specific backup tools from companies such as Veeam and Vizioncore are emerging that address file-level restore.
VMware has made some attempts to address the backup challenges associated with virtualizing servers. VMware vSphere 5.1 uses the VMware vStorage API for Data Protection (VADP), which works with VMware's vSphere Data Protection (VDP) or third-party backup tools. VADP replaces the outmoded VMware Consolidated Backup with an agentless backup system, based on virtual proxies, that does not tax storage resources. It features change block tracking to back up only data blocks that have changed since the last backup. This lessens the workload of VDP or another backup tool.
Expert Brian Posey compares the features of four top virtual server backup software products to help you choose the right one to handle your organization's VMware backup challenges.