One of the biggest reasons organizations creates backups is because of hardware failures. For example, if an organization’s storage array with all Virtual Machines (VM) fails, then all VMs will inevitably fail. But that’s not all, data can also fall victim to Malware, theft, or even worse, Ransomware, which locks down VM's data (along with its backups) for long periods.
Failure of a critical VM or group of VMs can lead to service interruption or serious financial loss. Organizations should have a consistent VM backup and restore solution. They might also need the flexibility to restore a single file, an application object, an entire VM, or even employ the full Disaster Recovery. Organizations need to make sure backups are free of errors, don’t take too long, and can be efficiently restored when a failure occurs.
In this article, we’ll go through the 7 Best Tools for VMware Backups.
- SolarWinds Virtualization Manager – FREE TRIAL Robust management, monitoring, and remediation for VMware environments. SolarWinds VMAN optimizes backups by cleaning VM environments.
- Veeam Backup & Replication A comprehensive backup/recovery solution for VMware environments. It lets you perform replicas, store snapshots, and perform full or incremental VMware backups.
- NAKIVO VM Backup and Replication The solution developed for VMware vSphere. It provides protection for vCenter and standalone ESXi workloads.
- Vembu BDR Suite An agentless backup/recovery solution for VMware VMs running on ESXi host or vCenter Server.
- Unitrends Backup An all-in-one solution for VMware backup, replication, deduplication, archiving, and instant recovery.
- Altaro VM Backup A full backup, recovery, and replication for VMware (and Hyper-V) VMs.
- Iperius Backup Solution for VMware ESXi, vCenter, and ESXi Free Backup. One of the only backup solutions to provide ESXi Free Incremental Replication.
What to Look for in VMware Backup Tools
Simply backing up everything from the beginning is necessary for ensuring full data protection. Still, there are ways to improve the following backups, by making them smaller, running faster, occupying less storage, and making them require less bandwidth.
Backing up large VM deployments will inevitably consume time, resources, and storage. The key to optimizing these VMware backups is to define what needs to be backed up and clean unnecessary orphaned (or zombie) VMs. This process might be time-consuming at the beginning but will pay in the future by making backups more efficient.
VMware Backup Tools
On a foundational level, VMware backup tools should help you keep the VM environment up and running during outages but also provide full data protection. Additionally, these tools can help you simplify and manage your backup jobs while providing options like snapshots, full backups, incremental backups, and quick recoverability. Most of the tools also come with robust replication features.
Look for features such as:
- Compatibility. Some backup solutions can be compatible with VMware vCenter for management and should work with ESXi (hypervisor) hosts.
- Compression or Deduplication: Features that help reduce the size of backups while reducing storage needs and traffic on the network.
- Incremental backup. Support for VMware Changed Block Tracking (CBT) to improve incremental backups.
- Volume Shadow-Copy Service (VSS) for application-consistent snapshots. An MS Windows feature that lets you create backup copies or snapshots of volumes or files, even when they are in use.
- Multiple storage options. Backup to on-prem storage (USB, disk, NAS, Tape) or cloud storage (AWS S3, Wasabi, or Azure).
All the tools shown below are highly scalable. They can be used for small, medium, and enterprise-size environments.
The Best VMware Backup Tools
SolarWinds is a leading provider of powerful network and systems management and monitoring software. They develop the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager (VMAN), which is an all-in-one tool for comprehensive virtual machine environment management.
SolarWinds VMAN provides strong management and monitoring capabilities, which are designed to improve or fix existing VM performance problems. It consolidates and centralizes VMware hypervisor health and performance information metrics into a single-pane-of-glass. This centralization makes the tool efficient for handling Virtualization Sprawl—regardless if resources are deployed on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environments.
SolarWinds VMAN is key to VMware backups because it helps ensure all VMs are properly configured before you perform a backup. It provides troubleshooting and resource management capabilities so that you can optimize virtual resources and prepare for a more efficient, cleaner, and smaller backup.
- VM Sprawl dashboard It lets you identity idle, stale, or orphaned (zombie) VMs. This feature will let you free and relocate wasted virtual resources.
- Monitor snapshots and orphan VMDKs Keep track of snapshot utilization and remove any unwanted snapshots to reclaim wasted virtual resources.
- Intelligent recommendations The tool provides actionable insights and predictive intelligence to help fix health and performance issues.
- Capacity planning Determine whether your virtual resources are under-allocated or overallocated.
- Virtual DNA A helpful feature that shows the VM configuration's historical changes.
- Contextual dependency map Get contextual map dependencies between virtual objects and see their relationships (server-object) in VMware vSphere.
Price: There are two SolarWinds VMAN licensing options available, subscription and perpetual license. The price for eight sockets starts at $2,995.00. To find what’s best for you, get a quote.
Download a fully functional 30-days free trial.
2. Veeam Backup & Replication
Veeam is a leader in backup, disaster recovery, and data management solutions for virtual, physical, and multi-cloud environments. The company provides a single platform for backup, data protection, and hybrid cloud management.
The Veeam Backup & Replication is an all-in-one backup/recovery solution that lets you store snapshots, perform VMware backups, run replications, and provide continuous data protection.
Veeam's comprehensive backup solution lets you perform application-aware image-based backups using snapshot storage technology. You can move those backup copies to the cloud (or store them on-prem). And when it’s time to restore a VMware backup, you can recover individual files, application items, or perform a complete disaster recovery.
- Incremental backups. Forward and reverse incremental backups using Changed Block Tracking (CBT).
- Image-level backups of VSS-aware apps. Ensure application consistency for backups in VSS-aware apps (SQL, Exchange, AD, etc).
- Instant Recovery Engine. A next-gen recovery system that allows highly flexible image-level backups. Recovery a file, a VM, or multiple VMs at once.
- SureBackup® and SureReplica. Two automated recovery tests that guarantee backup and replicas recoverability.
- Reduced recovery footprint. Instead of recovering large VMware VMs, you can instead recover individual disks or files.
- Proactive alerting and reporting. More than 340 present alarms and 150 pre-built reports.
Price. Contact Veeam Pricing and Packaging for more information on pricing.
Download a free trial of Veeam Backup & Replication.
3. NAKIVO VM Backup and Replication
NAKIVO develops data protection and site recovery software for SMBs and enterprises. It won the “Best of VMworld 2018” Gold Award for Data Protection at VMworld 2018 US. Their flagship solution is NAKIVO Backup & Replication, which is used by +16,000 companies worldwide to protect data in virtual and hybrid environments.
The NAKIVO Backup & Replication solution has a strong focus on VMware vSphere. It can provide strong data protection for vCenter-managed and standalone ESXi workloads.
The solution performs image-based backups of VMware VMs. All VMware backups jobs use VMware’s proprietary CBT for incremental backups. NAKIVO also allows a granular restore for files or application objects and instant full VM recovery.
- VMware Backups. Image-based incremental and app-aware backups for live VMware VMs.
- Recoverability Testing. Automatically test VMware backups to guarantee their recoverability and avoid errors.
- Variable Storage destination. Store your backups on public clouds (AWS, Azure, or Wasabi), private clouds, tape media, NAS, or deduplication appliances.
- Flash VM Boot: Have VMs booted directly from compressed or deduplicated backups.
- Job Chaining: A feature to help reduce management overhead. It sets VMware backup copies to run automatically after a VM backup job is complete.
Price: The price for the basic license starts at $99/socket. For more information get a quote.
Download a free trial of NAKIVO Backup & Replication.
4. Vembu BDR Suite
Vembu is one of the leaders in the Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) industry for SMBs. Their flagship product is the Vembu BDR Suite, which is a robust backup and disaster recovery for virtual (VMware and Hyper-V), physical, and cloud workloads.
Vembu BDR uses agentless technology to run backups at the image-level of VMware VMs running on ESXi host and vCenter Server. The software can perform full backups or incremental backups using VMware’s CBT technology. Vembu also offers VMware replication to create an exact copy of a live VM and replicate it in another vCenter Server or ESXi host.
The solution can also recover and restore your VMs instantly. You can perform granular recovery of files or application items or full recovery of VMs at the disk level.
- Agentless technology for Host Level/vCenter Level Restores.
- Application-Aware VMware vSphere backups.
- Instant VM Boot. Boot VMs directly from Vembu backup storage.
- Automatic Backup Verification from the Vembu backup storage.
- Site-level VM replication to a secondary DR site.
- Offsite VMware backup copy to a datacenter or Cloud.
Price: Subscription-based or perpetual licenses. The price for a perpetual license (VM-level pricing) starts at $45/VM.
5. Unitrends Backup
The Unitrends Backup software is an all-in-one solution with backup, replication, deduplication, archiving, and instant recovery capabilities. It is suitable for mid-sized companies, enterprises, or MSPs.
The solution provides full agentless protection for VMWare vSphere. It offers both guest and hypervisor-level protection. It protects ESXi and ESXi-free VMs, and its management capabilities can also be fully integrated with vCenter and vCloud.
All Unitrends Backup options provide an application-level awareness to make sure all copied data is consistent. It can provide application-aware VSS backups for VMware VMs running Microsoft apps like MS Exchange, Active Directory, SharePoint, and SQL.
- UniView. A single unified and centralized management hub, that shows status, alerts, reports, jobs, etc.
- Automatic Testing for application restores. This feature measures the recovery time and actual points.
- Detects Ransomware attacks: Machine Learning and predictive analysis to detect Ransomware.
- Instant Recovery for VMware. A unique feature that creates a VM shell on a target vSphere host and connects the backed VMDK to the new VM.
- Global deduplication. For fast recovery and maximum retention. Dynamic VM inclusion. A policy-based dynamic inclusion and detection of VMs.
Price: Unitrends Backup pricing starts at $349.00, for up to ten resources and as a one-time payment. There is a free version and a free trial.
Download: Unitrends Backup offers a free trial for 30 days.
6. Altaro VM Backup
Altaro develops robust backup solutions for any business, IT resellers, consultants, and MSPs. Their flagship solution is Altaro VM Backup— a full backup, recovery, and replication for VMware (and Hyper-V) VMs.
Altaro VM Backup provides a single-view dashboard to monitor and manage backups and perform quick restores across all VMware hosts. From the same dashboard, you can drag-and-drop VMs into schedule and retention policies to introduce automation. Altaro VM Backup also has an automated backup verification integrity feature that tests and validates all backups. Additionally, you can replicate data to an offsite location or a removable disk.
The solution gives you granular restore capabilities and also lets you restore at different points in time, and to different hosts.
- Copy backups to the cloud: Altaro VM Backup integrates with Azure, AWS S3, and Wasabi cloud storage.
- Granular Restore. Restore individual files, full VMs, or emails.
- Instant VM Boots from the backup without affecting backup integrity.
- Backup Health Monitor proactively keeps track of the backup storage’s health.
- Augmented Inline Deduplication for more efficient backups, faster speeds, and lower storage requirements.
- Supports VMware vCenter and Cluster Shared Volume.
- Continuous Data Protection (CDP) allows you to reduce backups frequency to as low as every five minutes.
Price: Starts at $515 for a one-time price and up to 5VMs per VMware host. For more pricing information, get a quote.
7. Iperius Backup
Iperius Backup is a backup solution for Windows PCs, servers, databases, and VMs. It allows automatic scheduled backups and replication of VMware virtual machines. You can perform either incremental or full backups from VMware to various devices, including NAS, USB, LTO Tape, or network. Additionally, you can backup and synchronize to different cloud storage services.
With Iperius Backup, you can perform hot (agentless) backups of VMware ESXi, vCenter, and vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi Free) virtual machines. You can choose between full, or incremental/differential VMware backups using the CBT/VDDK technology. You can immediately restore full ESXi VMs (also to different hosts) or individual files.
- VM replication from host to host or datastore to datastore.
- Incremental replication of ESXI Free hosts on source and destination.
- CBT/VDDK. Full support of VMware’s Changed Block Tracking (CBT/VDDK) technologies.
- Compatibility with vSphere ESXi Cluster.
Price: The price for Iperius Backup Advanced VM starts at $260.00.
Choosing the right tool for VMware Backups
Before backing up large VM environments, use a tool such as the SolarWinds Virtualization Manager to control VM sprawl, recover wasted resources, and manage orphaned VMDK files. This will help you run more efficiently and faster backups. Give it a try. They offer a free trial.
When it comes time to backup, try tools like Veeam Backup and Replication, NAKIVO VM, Vembu BDR Suite, Unitrends Backup, Altaro VM Backup, and Iperius Backup. These are all robust highly scalable tools for backup, replication, and recovery. They all offer free trials.