I have VMware Essentials ESXi 5.5.

I have two hosts. Host 1 has two VMs, a DC and a file/DB server. Host 2 has a DC and some other test VMs.

I'm looking at disaster recovery options for this file server.

One idea I thought is periodically "Cloning" it to the 2nd host. My concern is that as well as the OS drive there is a large (almost 1TB) data drive as well. I'd assume to clone that as well would take up a lot of time and space on the 2nd host.

The data files themselves I'm backing up separately. So my question is, is there an easy way to backup the OS drive of the VM but not the data drive?


Yes, the simple way would be to... only backup the OS drive.

How, precisely, you do that depends on what you're using using to back these systems up, but I know that ESXi essentials allows you to back up running VMDK files, so it would simply be a matter of determining which VMDK on the host corresponds to the virtual OS disk and point your backup solution at that. With VMware, that's usually the first one - the one without a number after the name.

For example, on one of our fileservers, it would be [redacted]FS02.vmdk, as in the below screenshot from the vCenter datastore browser.

enter image description here

If you don't have a proper backup solution, get one, quickly, but in the meantime, you could work around not having what you should already have by removing the non-OS disk(s) from your VM before cloning it. Make sure you just remove them (not remove and delete), and you can add them back after the clone completes.

enter image description here

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  • Thanks. I'm looking at the free Veeam Backup. I suppose one of my questions is, is there a backup solution that allows you to do what I've asked - i.e. exclude a drive? – george Mar 5 '14 at 8:56
  • @george It would probably be hard to find one that didn't let you exclude a drive, TBH. Not that I've looked for backup solutions missing that basic functionality, but when I was looking at products we could use to back up our VMs, all of them came with pretty flexible exclude filters and functionality - the abilty to exclude a certain volume or vdmk being just the tip of the iceberg. – HopelessN00b Mar 5 '14 at 12:45
  • I can't find a way within Veeam Backup & Replication Free Edition to exclude a drive (the documentation implies that feature does exist in the paid edition). – george Mar 6 '14 at 14:18

Disks marked Independent are not affected by snapshots, so cannot be backed up via VADP.

To backup the OS disk but not the data disk, using a backup solution that leverages VADP, such as Veeam, you might consider marking the data disk Independent/Persistent.

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