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I'm only getting started with virtualisation. I have a server running Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard and Hyper-V Manager. This server is the host of several virual machines (also Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard). What is the simplest solution to backup the virtual machines to a network share every night while they are running?

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migrated from superuser.com Nov 4 '11 at 5:13

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6 Answers

There are a number of backup tools that can use Volume Shadow Copy to back up the VM while its running. At my company, we use MS Data Protection Manager. It's easy-to-use, powerful, and scalable. It can back up your VMs on the fly, on the schedule you specify. It requires it's own storage, though. I'm sure there are plenty of other alternatives available.

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I'm pretty sure you can backup your hyper-v images using the built in windows backup with just a registry tweak. It works, its not the greatest solution but it hit the spot on a tight budget.

Here's a link to the technote.

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+1. If he's just getting started, then this might be a good short-term solution. WSB can do backups to an external HDD, I'm not sure about a network share though. Can it? –  Bigbio2002 Nov 10 '11 at 15:57
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If you're adept at scripting you might want to consider using diskshadow to take a live backup of the VMs and then just copy them over to a network share. If you google you will find many read-made scripts. (http://searchservervirtualization.techtarget.com/tip/Using-Diskshadow-for-backing-up-Hyper-V-workloads)

If you remove the network share requirement you might want to check the Windows Server Backup included in R2. You would need to enter a key into the registry to get to be 'aware' of Hyper-V. (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/958662)

If you don't want to go through that hassle we have a Hyper-V Backup solution called 'Altaro Hyper-V Backup' - (disclaimer - i work at Altaro). There is a freeware version that allows you to back up 2 VMs for free and if you have more there is a paid edition. More info on Altaro Backup for Hyper-V here. (http://www.altaro.com/hyper-v-backup/). It's very easy to use and very affordable.

As was mentioned by BigBio, MS DPM is also a good solution but might be a bit of an overkill for a smaller setup.

NOTE: To be sure that any solution you choose can back up LIVE VMs (while they running) you need a backup solution that makes use of the Microsoft Hyper-V VSS Writer. This ensures that any VSS requests are cascaded down to the VM and therefore all backups will be consistent.

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Symantec Backup Exec will do this for you. BackupExec Free trial available there.

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Myself, I've never used BackupExec - the pricing (even on SPLA schemes) scared me. DPM works quite well if you've got storage –  Mark Lawrence Nov 4 '11 at 14:52
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It's possible and there's some work to be done using wbadmin but it's pretty straightforward. I'd suggest you read this site: http://www.itwriting.com/blog/2887-using-backup-on-windows-hyper-v-server-or-server-core.html

Alternatively if you have money to spend or just want to check out the beta, Data Protection Manager would be a good choice:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/system-center/data-protection-manager.aspx

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i was looking for a tool like that as well. I think backupchain fits quite well in terms of simplicity and price

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