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I have a dedicated server, and just started installing some VMs on to the box using HyperV. I am currently backing up the VMs using a HyperV backup tool, which seems to work quite well, and then the directory it backs up to is backed up using CrashPlan... Given CrashPlan is not a profesional backup solution, i am wondering what the best way of backing up the VMs would be?

some notes:

  • I do not have access to the physical hardware on the box, so adding USB Keys or external drives is not an option...
  • The company does give me about 100Gb of storage on a file share... Not sure if 100Gb will be enough though...
  • the backup software takes a snapshot every night at midnight, checks the difference between the last backup and only backs up the last file + the difference... but there does not seem to be any compression, and given that VMs would have a lot of compressable (or a good chunk i would think) of data, i think i could save some space...
  • finally, it does not do any sort of data-de-duplication... given the VMs are copies of Windows (Win2k8R2 Standard + Web + Win 7, and probably at least one or 2 more Windows Web Boxes also...) i would think a lot of savings could be made...

Any ideas?

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I was going to recommend Microsoft Data Protection Manager (DPM) because I run this as a Hyper V virtual machine and it works very well as a VM. In this scenario you'd use it for backing up to disk. There are a couple of problems though - DPM is quite disk-space hungry, no dedupe and wants a lot of GB in reserve, so it wouldn't be ideal for you. Also, I think the licensing for DPM is changing fairly soon, and you might not be able to buy it standalone.

Altaro makes a good Hyper V backup program, which installs onto the host. Again, no dedupe, but it's a lot more flexible about where it backs-up to than DPM. It's got a cute 'Fire-drill' feature that makes a lot of sense, since the best backups are tested ones.

I'm wondering though, whether you should bother backing up at the system level. Do you need a fast recovery time? If not, unless I had a few extra ££ to throw for convenience, I would focus on backing up and restoring at the application level. I'm wondering if free windows backup would help here.

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Thanks for the tip on DPM, but if i am backing up to disk with DPM, i still have the same problem of getting that "off site". As for Altaro, thats actually the software i am currently using for backup... As for the part of system level or application level backup, i was being lazy and looking for a system level option, so if something goes wrong, just recreate the VMs or restore them to somewhere else and off you go... but these VMs are not mission critical, so i suppose going for the cheaper option (windows backup, crashplan) might be a good idea... –  TiernanO Feb 8 '12 at 8:49
    
If you're concerned about offsite backup then you can installs a dpm vm in your dc and have a server at home also running dpm. The home dpm will back up the dc dpm over Wan and all its vms. Costs a bit though and you'd need a domain controller at both sites. –  Mark Lawrence Feb 9 '12 at 20:59
    
Thanks for the tip on DPM... Wondering, if i have my Dedicated box with TMG as a VM, connecting to TMG in house as a Site to Site VPN, and connect the Dedicated box to my home Active Directory, i would only need the one Domain, correct? –  TiernanO Feb 13 '12 at 18:11
    
Yes, that should work, same domain with two different subnets - just inform the domain controllers in 'sites'. I would still have a dc at each site as this is best practice and also dpm requires a dc for restoring backups. Imagine a disaster recovery scenario where you lost your dc. –  Mark Lawrence Feb 13 '12 at 23:44
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