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I have a situation that I need to copy all my virtual machine from the first datastore to the second datastore as backup.

What are the best practices to achieve this? I am newbie in VMware and eager to learn about it.

I've tried a suggestion from: I tried to connect to my VMware server using Putty to connect as SSH at port 22. Somehow, I couldn't do it, and I have a connection time out.

Please let me know is there any best practices to copy or backup between datastore in VMware.

Thank you in advance for your helps and advices.

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First, start capitalizing VMware correctly. – joeqwerty Mar 15 '12 at 15:45
@joeqwerty: Thank you for the advise. – Arief Mar 15 '12 at 22:01
I thought it was VMWare? – Bart Silverstrim Mar 15 '12 at 22:15
Nope...their website calls it VMware. TIL. – Bart Silverstrim Mar 15 '12 at 22:15

This entirely depends on how you want to go about backups. Well, that's a partial lie; it depends also on your tolerance for downtime.

One, treat the machines as actual machines. That is, put them into your backup cycle on your backup server. If there's a failure, you re-create the virtual machine as a blank slate (or create a template from a machine) then restore from "bare metal" as you would any other server.

Second, you can shut down the machine, and from the vSphere console (or a dedicated copy utility like Veam's copy utility (Veem?)) copy the subdirectory from the datastore to another location.

Third, you could spend the cash on getting a storage array that can snapshot the filesystem and copy it elsewhere without the operating system knowing about it, or mirror the storage system to another server over ethernet.

Fourth...I believe there are products available, perhaps from VMWare or other vendors, made to copy the virtual machines. But I'm not sure on that since I don't use products like this.

If you're doing this on the absolute cheap, I'd go with shutting down the servers and copying the directories periodically. This can literally take hours; in our case it can take the better part of a weekend. But we make do with what resources we have available.

We also do backups with agents to the backup server; if necessary we could recreate a server and restore from backup for most of our virtual machines. Probably "best practice" without special applications would be to do it this way.

Also remember you would end up with "clones" doing this, down to the MAC address. Probably not a good thing to have them both running at the same time or you'll confuse your switches and other machines that suddenly see two "FileServerABC"'s on the network all of a sudden fighting over who owns what static IP and Windows name.

And while having virtualized DC's can work well, don't snapshot them and roll them back a significant amount of time or you can wreak havoc with your Active Directory setup...

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There are several vendors (Veeam, Backup Exec, AppAssure, etc. that are VM "aware" (using the vmware backup API/VSS, etc.) to do hot, image-level backups while the machine's online. – gravyface Mar 15 '12 at 13:57
@Bart Silverstrim: Shutting down my virtual machines is not an option, they are running on Exchange & RDS as well. I need to backup my virtual machines ASAP since they have never been backed up before. Getting the proper Back Up software is taking time. I need a solution that I can copy it from one datastore to another datastore that I have. – Arief Mar 15 '12 at 22:05
@gravyface: I would like to get the proper backup software to do this while the machines are stay online. Are there any recommendation for VMware Backup Software other than Symantec Backup Exec? – Arief Mar 15 '12 at 22:08
@Arief I like AppAssure: sensible pricing based on number of ESXi sockets, not "agents", works for physical servers too, Exchange/SQL/SharePoint (VSS) aware, etc. – gravyface Mar 15 '12 at 22:13

Personally I'd use the VDR to do the backups if you have the licence/s to allow it - it's not perfect but it does quieced snap-based backups and is reasonably stable.

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Thank you for the advise to use VDR to do the backups. I will add VDR into my consideration to get the backup software. – Arief Mar 15 '12 at 22:09

First of all, read Bart Silverstrim comment -> this view of a VM is important.

The technical possibility is within vmware simple:

  1. If you want to use just activate SSH (search google for this -> it depends on esx or esxi)

  2. If you want to copy "for" a backup without downtime -> get, take a snapshot of the vm and copy the vmdk files (servername.vmdk, not the snapshot files servername-000X.vmdk) to the other datastore.

But remind -> this is not a BACKUP. You have the whole container containing an clone of the machine.

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If you are running vCenter Server, simply right click on the virtual machine and click "clone". If you need this to be scheduled or automated, you need a scripted solution, or a 3rd party product.

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