We need to make a quarterly off-site backup of all our servers that run in ESX 3.5. We can't shut down the servers, and there are about 65 of them.

Currently we use scheduled clones that have to be set up manually. This of course necessitates all kinds of copying and disgusting datastore hoops to jump through to get the data out.

It seems like there must be a better way of doing this, and there's no way I am the first to attempt this.



Assuming you've paid for VMware ESX 3.5 and virtual centre, you'll have VMware Consolidated Backup already available for you.

VCB can either backup the full VM or perform a file-based backup, in this case it sounds like a full VM backup is best for you.

The way it will work is fully automated once you've got it configured:

  • Take disk snapshot each server online, minimal performance impact
  • Mount the snapshots onto a central VCB server
  • Copy contents of snapshots onto the VCB server as .vmdk files, this will generate a lot of disk and network I/O so do it overnight, and you obviously need the space on your backup server
  • Unmount the snapshots and delete them

You can then backup the .vmdk files with your "normal" backup software, whether this is Backup Exec, NTBackup, etc, to either USB drives or tape.

If you take a look at VCB and don't like it, I'd highly recommend Veeam Backup and Replication which does a very good job.

  • I haven't evaluated all the good solutions listed below, but the fact that VCB is available without an additional purchase just made this much easier on me to implement. I didn't realize we had it available, but we do. Thanks! – Garrett Dec 30 '09 at 18:25
  • Ultimately we were dissatisfied with VCB - it's basically a script that hijacks vmdks after making a snap to run from. We decided to go with Veeam. – Garrett Aug 12 '11 at 17:23

We use the GhettoVCB script to do this. Essentially it takes a snapshot of the VM, copies off the VMDK and VMX file, and then deletes the snapshot. Using this to an NFS share on another machine then gives you a file to copy off.

  • This looks fantastic. <3 free – mrduclaw Dec 24 '09 at 17:54

Perhaps have a look into using VMware Consolidated Backup?


Veeam Backup and Replication will do what you're looking for, too.


We use vRanger for this. Works a treat once you get the scheduling set up; we have it doing daily/weekly/monthly dumps of our very/slightly/rarely important VMs to an external USB.


Depending on your setup you could just snapshot the file system on the data store (assuming it is some SAN/NAS) and copy the snapshot to your backup device. LVM or ZFS (and I'm sure countless others) will do this out of the box.

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