I have a Vmware infrastructure where I am using the free version of Esxi 5 . I cannot as a result use vmotion and the other cool features that come with a paid ESXI. I am using snapshots for the backups but they are stored on local hard drive. I need a better backup scenario where I can recover in the event of a harddrive failure. I tried openfiler but could not get it right. What backup method can I try given my situation?
If you'd bought even one licence worth of 'Essentials Plus' (the second cheapest type) you'd be entitled to use VMWare's VDR backup appliance (soon to be replaced by the much better VDP) but you could also look at GhettoVCB which is at least free.
Snapshots are no backups. If you lose the main VMDK a snapshot refers to, the snapshot will be totally useless.
Veeem backup does not support free versions of esxi http://www.veeam.com/blog/veeam-and-free-esxi.html. The GhettoVCB looks interesting and I suggest Marlin researches on it. I saw the link has a detailed way of implementing the GhettoVCB backup solution.
You can try to use Veeam Backup. Detailed information you can find here.
As an aside, depending on your infrastructure there's nothing to stop you from simply backing up your machines as though they were physical servers.
I.e., you could just use Symantec Backup Exec, DPM or whatever else.
I'm not saying this is necessarily preferred or anything, but it may be the most supportable option for you.
You can try XSIBackup, it is a shared source solution. It makes scheduled hot backups via cron, SMART info, e-mail report, it has its own crontab and lets you make a diff mirror to a second ESXi box. For ESXi 5.1 and above only. http://33hops.com/xsibackup-vmware-esxi-backup.html