Iperius is a powerful, complete, and easy-to-use piece of software for backing up VMware ESXi. It supports the incremental and differential backup of ESXi (CBT/VDDK) virtual machines, including the free ESXi Free version.
Iperius also allows connections via vCenter and the automatic restoration of virtual machines, including on different hosts. These powerful features make up a complete framework for protecting any server infrastructure, with features such as Hyper-V backup/restore, SQL Server database backup/restore, and Exchange mail servers.
Following some of the most significant features of Iperius for this kind of backup:
- Incremental and differential backups of virtual machines (full support for Changed Block Tracking (CBT/VDDK);
- Backup of ESXi Free (the free vSphere Hypervisor version), including incremental and differential backups;
- Backups only of the disk space that is actually being used;
- Full support for connecting to VMware vCenter Server;
- Auto-restore of virtual machines, including on different hosts (also useful for the replication/cloning of virtual machines);
- Extremely lightweight and stable software (Iperius is also portable and does not install anything that will affect the performance of the server);
- Compatible with all ESXi (4.x, 5.x, 6.x) versions;
- There is also the possibility to exclude specific virtual machine disks and manage independent disks;
- One of the lowest price on the market (€ 146), perpetual licence, both support and updates are for free;
- Only one license nedeed for unlimited host and virtual machines;
- Complete utility that has many other backup features.
Following, a short tutorial shows how to perform backup of ESXi virtual machines:
As soon as Iperius has been installed and launched, you can create new backup job:
Then add a special item, an ESXi backup, as the picture below shows:
First, you must create a connection account to the ESXi server (host) o vCenter. To do that, click on the dedicated button as shown in the picture below.
Creating an account is very easy: you simply have to specify the ESXi host IP address (or vCenter server), the username and the password.
Once the account has been created and saved, you can establish a connection in order to see and select the virtual machines:
Basic settings are very few. It can be enough to select one or more virtual machines and specify a backup destination, which can be either a local folder or network share (in this case it might be necessary to specify an account to authenticate in the shared folder).
It’s, therefore, possible to select the backup type. It’s also possible to use the Changed Block Tracking mode (CBT) which allows for incremental or differential backups of virtual machines by using the VDDK VMware libraries, and only the disk space that is being used (for this mode we must remember that the virtual machine should not contain snapshots and must have the CBT option enabled). This kind of backup is very fast and powerful, and also allows you to have a larger number of complete backups. During the restore procedure you can choose which incremental, differential or total backup you would like to use to restore the machine.
Standard backup mode, also available in versions of Iperius prior to version 5, allows you to create an exact copy of individual files from a virtual machine file, downloading them locally in their entirety. This is always a full backup, which produces a folder containing all virtual machine files (.vmdk, .vmx, etc …), in the same state as they appear in the datastore.
That said, save the virtual machine backup item by clicking OK. Specifying a destination is not mandatory (since the destination is already included in the item). Skip the panel Destinations, unless you want to copy the backup to further destinations (i.e. Tape/Cloud/FTP).
In the “Options” panel, leave all the options to their default values. To know more about automatic scheduling and email notifications, you can read the following tutorials:
Finally, choose a name for the backup job and save it clicking OK.
You can immediately launch the backup right clicking on it, as shown in the image below:
Considerations on backup speed:
With a standard configuration the backup is much faster when Iperius is installed on a physical machine (external) in the same network of the ESXi server, while it can be slower when Iperius is installed on a VM hosted in the ESXi server itself. Anyway, to improve network performances and to solve possible problems, it’s recommended to read the related VMware documentation: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1004087 .
Backups made using the CBT/VDDK mode will be much faster than standard backups. This is due to the fact that with a full backup, only disk space that is actually being used will be downloaded, as well as the fact that incremental and differential backups only download any detected differences and are therefore very fast.
Automatic Restore with Iperius:
Iperius version 5 and later versions include a simple and powerful ESXi virtual machine restore function. The restore can be done either via a standard backup (always a complete backup) or via a complete, incremental or differential backup created using the CBT mode. Using the second option, Iperius will automatically rebuild the virtual machine using various incremental or differential backups, thus allowing for a fast restore of a virtual machine from a certain date. The restore can also be completed on different hosts, datacenters or datastores – making this feature very useful for cloning/replicating virtual machines.
The diagram below shows the virtual machine restore window:
You will also need to select a connection account for ESXi or vCenter (or create one if necessary), you will then need to select the datastore that you want to use for the restore (which can be on a different host or datacenter than the virtual machine source), and then select the folder containing the virtual machine backup. At this point, all available backups will be displayed and you will be able to select what to do with the restore. Lastly, in order to achieve a smooth restore, the virtual machine doesn’t need to be present in the selected destination.
Restore by using vSphere Client:
Restoring an ESXi virtual machine that you’ve previously backed up with Iperius (standard backup) is very simple. In fact, Iperius saves the virtual machine in its original format (with the various .vmdk, .vmx files, etc.), so you will simply need to reupload the folder containing the backup to the ESXi datastore (using the standard management software provided by VMware, vSphere Client), and then reconnect the virtual machine simply right clicking on its .vmx file and then on the menu item “Add to Inventory”. Once you have done this, you can immediately restart the virtual machine.