How to Perform a VMware Backup & Best Practices


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If a disaster strikes, you don’t have time to waste on figuring out how to restore your data. Here are some quick tips for performing backup and restoring in VMware at the best possible speed.

VMware backup and restore is a process that allows users to back up their virtual machines. This process can be done either on a local machine or remotely. The best practices are to make sure the backup is stored offsite, and also to test the backups periodically.

How to Perform a VMware Backup & Best Practices

Losing your whole VMware environment may be devastating if you’re a VMware administrator. So, what’s the best way to back up your whole VMware environment? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this guide, and you’ll be able to do a VMware backup in no time!

You’ll discover how to never lose your VMware environment, including your vCenter server, virtual machines, and ESXi settings, in this video.


This will be a hands-on presentation in this course. If you want to follow along, make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • VMware ESXi Hypervisor-enabled machine – The VMware ESXi 6.7 version is used in this lesson.
  • Any of the following protocols with appropriate disk space and access to the appliance may be used to backup the vCenter server appliance: FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, or SCP.

Manually backing up vCenter Server

The first step in conducting a VMware backup in this guide is to manually backup your vCenter server. You’ll use your Appliance Manager to fill up a form with the settings of your backup job for backing up your vCenter server.

Application servers, often known as database servers, are constantly writing data. When making a backup of such servers, you must first put the VM to sleep so that the file and application data may be restored.

1. Open your preferred browser, then go to the IP address of the vCenter server, as shown below, and log in. This launches the VMware vCenter server’s management console.

Replace appliance-IP-address-or-FQDN with the IP address of your vCenter server. However, in this case, the IP address of the vCenter server is


Logging into the vCenter Server Appliance Logging into the vCenter Server Appliance

2. After logging in, go to the left panel and click on Backup, then BACKUP NOW under the Activity area, as seen below.

vCenter Server Backup is being started. vCenter Server Backup is being started.

3. Make the following changes to the backup settings:

  • To connect, type the backup protocol (ftp), then the location and credentials. The IP address of the FTP server in this example is
  • To make the backup as clear as possible, don’t use an encryption password. When recovering an encrypted backup, the password is required.
  • To store historical stats, events, and tasks data from the database to your backup destination, check the Stats, Events, and Tasks option.
  • To begin the backup process, click the Start button.

Always keep in mind that the backup hardware should have sufficient resources. Your backup activities, such as data deduplication, can take longer than intended if you don’t have adequate resources.

vCenter Server Backup Settings Configuration vCenter Server Backup Settings Configuration

4. When the backup is finished, you’ll notice an item in the Activity area of the backup history, similar to the one below.

Viewing the History of Backups Viewing the History of Backups

Using vCenter Servers to Automate a VMware Backup Job

Why not automate your vCenter server backup instead of doing it manually? How? By setting up a backup schedule for your vCenter server.

Setting up a backup routine is equivalent to manually backing up your vCenter server. The only difference is that you plan when the backup procedure will occur.

Click Backup on the Appliance Management home page, then CONFIGURE in the Backup Schedule area at the top-right. This brings up a screen where you may set up the backup schedule.

Getting to the page where you may create a backup schedule Getting to the page where you may create a backup schedule

Configure the following details for the backup schedule:

  • Fill in all the details on the Backup Schedule page as you did in the “Manually backing up vCenter Server” section (step three).
  • Choose a repeat (Daily, Weekly, or Custom) and a time for the backup job to execute by using the drop-down box.
  • Your browser will redirect back to the Backup page when you click Create to save the backup schedule.

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever Try a file-level recovery for a VM from your scheduled auto backups to determine whether the automated backup operation completed its job successfully.

Developing a Backup Schedule Developing a Backup Schedule

You can now see the Backup Schedule section with all the options you selected while Developing a Backup Schedule, as shown below. You also have the option to Edit, Disable or Delete the backup schedule completely.

When you restore your vCenter server from a backup file, all of the settings from the backup are restored to a new appliance.

Details about the backup schedule may be seen Details about the backup schedule may be seen

Scheduled backup processes on your VM eat RAM on a regular basis, degrading the performance of your VM. Alternatively, you may backup at off-peak hours, when your servers aren’t being used by many people.

However, using image-level backups from the virtualization layer is a superior alternative since the OS resource consumption will not be engaged in the backup process.

VMware’s VM Folder is being copied.

You’ve already learnt how to manually backup your vCenter and how to schedule a backup process. Now it’s time to examine the various methods for backing up VMs using the VMware Hypervisor. To begin, make a backup of your virtual machine by transferring its folder from VMware to a location.

After turning off your virtual machine, open the VMware ESXi Datastore browser and go to your virtual machine’s folder.

Select your VM’s folder (vmdk), then click Download to choose a folder outside of your VMware hypervisor as a destination.

Using the Datastore Browser to copy VMs Using the Datastore Browser to copy VMs

vSphere exporting a virtual machine

Exporting from vSphere is another technique to back up your VM, similar to copying a VM folder. Exporting VMs, on the other hand, is a little different since the VM is transformed to an OVF file, which allows virtual appliances to be shared between products and platforms.

How to Use PowerShell to Import and Export an OVF File in VMware

Navigate to your VM by going to your vSphere URL. To export your VM’s vmdk file to your selected place and convert it to an OVF file, right-click on it and choose Export.

vSphere exporting a virtual machine vSphere exporting a virtual machine

It is best practice to use a backup solution like VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection, which does not need any backup software to be installed on the VM or the ESXi host.

The use of vStorage APIs minimizes backup resource consumption on both the VMs and the ESXi host. VMware vSphere’s snapshot capabilities are used by vStorage APIs for Data Protection to establish a backup on the Storage Area Network (SAN) without incurring downtime on the VMs.

Using the PowerCLI Module to Export Virtual Machines

If you’re comfortable with commands, another option for creating a backup is to use the PowerCLI module in PowerShell to export the VMs. However, before you can backup any VMs, you must first install the module.

1. Run the Install-Module command below in PowerShell as an administrator to install the PowerCLI module (VMware.PowerCLI) on your computer.

When the confirmation box appears, type ‘A’ to continue performing the command.

VMware.PowerCLI -Name Install-Module

The PowerCLI module is being installed. The PowerCLI module is being installed.

2. Connect Connect-VIServer to your ESXi host using the command below. Replace with the IP address of your ESXi host.

When asked, enter your credentials. Connect-VIServer Connect-VIServer

Getting connected to the ESXi host Getting connected to the ESXi host

If you get an invalid server certificate problem when connecting to your VMware host, use the command below to disregard it. Ignore -PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction Set-PowerCLIConfiguration

To export your VM (vmdk file) in OVF format to a destination folder you choose, use the Export-vApp command (-Destination “C:\VMBackup\”). In the hypervisor, replace WinVM with the name of your virtual machine.

Get-VM -Name WinVM | Export-VApp -Destination “C:VMBackup” Get-VM -Name WinVM | Export-VApp -Destination “C:VMBackup”

Using the PowerCLI Module to Export a Virtual Machine Using the PowerCLI Module to Export a Virtual Machine

Creating a VMware Host Configuration Backup

You’ve seen how to back up VMs using third-party software and back up vCenter servers so far. But how about Creating a VMware Host Configuration Backup?

1. Use SSH to connect to your VMware host.

2. Save the current configuration from the previous autosave (hostsvc/firmware/sync config) using the vim-cmd line below. The configuration of ESXi is automatically stored every hour.

hostsvc/firmware/sync config vim-cmd

ESXi Host Configuration is being saved. ESXi Host Configuration is being saved.

Finally, use the command below to backup the configuration you saved in step two (hostsvc/firmware/backup config).

Take note of the URL from the output since you’ll need it in the following step to download the backup file.

hostsvc/firmware/backup config vim-cmd

ESXi Host Configuration Backup ESXi Host Configuration Backup

4. Open your browser and type the URL you highlighted in step three into the address bar. The browser will automatically download the backup folder if you replace * with the IP address of your ESXi host.

You may alternatively use software like WinSCP to see and download the same backup file from the /scratch/downloads folder, as illustrated below.

Using WinSCP to see a backup file Using WinSCP to see a backup file

As you can see in the screenshot below, the backup folder is automatically erased after a few minutes, so you must download it as soon as possible.

The Backup Folder is Deleted Automatically The Backup Folder is Deleted Automatically

You may build a snapshot on the server, test it, and then erase it as quickly as possible while testing a short software upgrade. Why? All disk writes for that VM are diverted to a new delta disk file when a snapshot is produced.

The lock on the storage Local Unit Number (LUN) is created when data is written to the disk file in increments, which might cause performance concerns.


The goal of this article is to teach you how to backup a VMware setup. You’ve discovered a variety of methods for securing a copy of your VMware environment and improving your ESXi host settings.

Backing up your virtual machines is critical, particularly for business continuity. Veeam Backup and Replication, Comvault, Dell EMC Networker, Cohesity Backup and Recovery, Veritas NetBackup, Altaro VM Backup, Nakivo Backup and Replication, and other backup software with data protection are only a few examples.

Related:Getting Started with Veeam Backup & Replication and VMware vSphere

Which program would you use to backup your virtual machines now that you have this newfound knowledge? Would you like to use a manual or automatic backup system?

The “vmware backup best practices” is a guide that helps users perform a VMware backup. The guide also includes the best practices for performing your backups.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I backup a VM?

A: For it to be working properly, you will have had to install the virtual machine using VMWare or a similar piece of software. To backup your VM, first power down the computer and open up its settings by pressing CTRL+ALT+DELETE on your keyboard while holding in that combination until they appear at the bottom of your screen. You should see Power options near where you are typing this phrase during startup. Clicking there will allow you to choose what type of shutdown mode is best for saving all data on an individual level before shutting off completely (almost like double clicking).

How does VMware backup work?

A: VMware backup is a process by which you can back up your entire computer to an external hard drive, another server or even a cloud. This data will then be stored on the device and restored when needed.

How do I backup and restore a VM?

A: To backup a VM, you can use the following command.
ssh -i ubuntu@ sudo pv dump –interactive > /var/backup/

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