Veeam Backup & Replication backs up VMs at the image level. It retrieves VM data from the source storage, compresses and deduplicates it and writes to the backup repository in Veeam’s proprietary format. You can use the image-level backup for all types of data restore scenarios: restore a full VM, VM files and VM virtual disks, and separate guest OS files from the same backup file.
To perform backup, Veeam Backup & Replication leverages VMware vSphere snapshot capabilities. When you need to perform backup, Veeam Backup & Replication instructs VMware vSphere to create a snapshot — a cohesive point-in-time copy of a VM that Veeam Backup & Replication can access to retrieve VM data. The VMware vSphere snapshot technology lets you back up VMs without suspending them: this is also knows as online hot backup.
In Veeam Backup & Replication, backup is job-driven: to perform backup, you need to configure a backup job. A backup job defines when, what, how and where to back up. One backup job can be used to process one or several VMs.
Veeam Backup & Replication performs both full and incremental backup. During the first run of a backup job, Veeam Backup & Replication creates a full VM backup (VBK). All subsequent job cycles produce incremental backups:
- VIB if forward incremental or forever forward incremental backup is used.
- VRB if reversed incremental backup is used.
The number of increments kept on disk depends on retention policy settings.
It is recommended that you create a backup job for at least two VMs: one Microsoft Windows-based VM and one running OS other than Microsoft Windows, for example, Linux, Unix, BSD and so on. This will let you follow the two guest OS recovery scenarios afterwards: restoring guest OS files from a Windows-based VM and restoring guest OS files with multi-OS restore wizard.
- All backup infrastructure components that will take part in the backup process must be added to the Veeam Backup & Replication console. These include an ESX(i)host on which VM(s) reside or vCenter Server to which this ESX(i) host is connected. If you plan to use a distributed architecture scenario, you should also have a backup proxy and a backup repository.
- [Optional] To receive an e-mail notification when a backup job completes, specify global email notification settings. To do that, select General Options from the main menu of Veeam Backup & Replication and specify necessary settings on the E-mail Settings tab.
- [Optional] To evaluate the application-aware image processing feature and the file indexing feature, make sure that at least one of backed up VMs runs Microsoft Windows 2003 SP1 or later.
To perform backup of VMs, perform the following steps.
- Open the Backup & Replication view.
- On the Home tab, click the Backup Job button to launch the New Backup Job wizard.
- At the Name step of the wizard, specify a name for the created backup job.
You can back up individual VMs or VM containers: folders, resource pools, clusters, vApps, datastores and so on. Jobs with VM containers are dynamic in nature: if a new VM is added to the container after the backup job is created, the job is automatically updated to include the new VM.
- At the Virtual Machines step of the wizard, click Add.
- To quickly find a VM or VM container, specify the name of the object that you want to find in the search field and click the Start search button on the right. Select a VM or VM container in the displayed list and click Add.
If you create a backup job for a VM container, you can exclude specific VMs or VM containers from the backup job. You can also select which VM disks to back up.
- At the Virtual Machines step of the wizard, click Exclusions.
- Use the VMs tab to exclude VMs or VM container from a backup job. Click Add and select VMs and VM containers that must be excluded. To quickly find a VM or container, enter the name of the object you want to find in the search field and click the Start search button on the right.
- Click the Disks tab. Select a VM and click Edit to select disks that must be backed up. This functionality is useful, for example, if you want to back up only VM system drives.
- To exclude disks of a VM added as part of a container, click Add on the right to include the VM in the list as a standalone instance.
- If you exclude some VM disks from the backup, select the Remove excluded disks from VM configuration check box to automatically modify the VMX file with regard to the selected VM disks. With this option selected, you will be able to power on a restored VM without having to edit its configuration.
- Click OK.
- Click Recalculate to see the total size of selected objects.
If you have included a number of VMs or VM containers in the backup job, you can specify the order in which VMs must be processed. This will help you make sure that the most important VMs in the job are processed first — for example, if you must fit into the backup window and you are unsure how much time VM processing will take.
- At the Virtual Machines step of the wizard, select the added VM in the list.
- Use the Up and Down buttons on the right to move the VM higher or lower in the list. The higher is VM in the list, the higher its priority. If you added a VM container as a single instance, VMs inside the container will be processed at random.
If you use a distributed deployment scenario, you must point the created job to the backup proxy that will process VM data and to the backup repository to which VM backups must be stored.
- At the Storage step of the wizard, check the Backup proxy field and make sure that Automatic selection is specified there. Veeam Backup & Replication will check the settings of available backup proxies and select the most appropriate one for the job: the backup proxy that will enable the most efficient data retrieval from the source datastore. Veeam Backup & Replication first attempts to choose a backup proxy that uses the Direct storage access mode, then the backup proxy that uses the Virtual appliance mode. If such backup proxies are not available, Veeam Backup & Replication selects the least loaded backup proxy that uses the Network mode.
- From the Backup repository list, select the backup repository that you have configured. Backup files created by the job will be written to this backup repository.
- Define the number of restore points that must be kept. By default, Veeam Backup & Replication keeps 14 restore points.
At the Storage step of the wizard, click Advanced to specify additional backup settings.
- On the Backup tab, you can select the mode in which you want to perform backup: forever forward incremental, forward incremental or reverse incremental.
- The forever forward incremental backup method produces a backup chain that consists of the first full backup and a set of forward incremental backups following it. To use this backup method, select Incremental and do not enable active full and/or synthetic full backup.
- The forward incremental backup method produces a backup chain that consists of the first full backup and a set of forward incremental backups following it. Additionally, the forward incremental backup chain contains synthetic full and/or active full backups that 'split' the backup chain into shorter series. To use this backup method, select Incremental and enable active full and/or synthetic full backup.
- The reverse incremental backup method produces a backup chain that consists of the last full backup and a set of reverse incremental backups preceding it. To use this backup method, select Reverse incremental.
- If you have selected to use forward incremental backup, select Enable synthetic fulls and specify a day on which a new full backup file must be created. This option is useful if your corporate policies require you to periodically create full backups. To create a synthetic full backup, Veeam Backup & Replication uses full and incremental backup files that already reside on the backup repository (instead of retrieving VM data from the production storage). Synthetic full backups do not impact the virtual infrastructure or primary storage.
- With synthetic backup scheduled, you will have a number of full backups on disk — a full backup created at the first run of the backup job and those create according to the synthetic backup schedule. To save the disk space, you can select the Transform previous full backup chains into rollbacks check box. In this case, Veeam Backup & Replication will transform all previous full backup chains to a reversed incremental backup sequence. This option allows you to keep only one full backup image on disk and so reduce the amount of space required to store backups.
- Open the Storage tab. Leave the Enable inline data deduplication check box selected. Veeam Backup & Replication deduplicates identical blocks of data when backing up multiple VMs in one job and eliminates empty space on logical disks of VMs. Use of deduplication dramatically reduces storage costs: you can reduce the backup size up to 90% when backing up VMs created from the same template.
- Make sure the Exclude swap file blocks check box is selected. Swap files are dynamic and change intensively between runs of a backup job. Veeam Backup & Replication will identify data blocks of the Microsoft Windows pagefile in the VM guest OS and exclude them from processing, which will result in increased performance and smaller increments.
- To reduce the size of a backup file, Veeam Backup & Replication offers 5 compression levels: None, Dedupe-friendly, Optimal, High and Extreme, that provide different compression ratios to meet the needs of your environment. For this evaluation exercise, make sure that the Optimal compression level is selected in the Compression level list.
- Veeam Backup & Replication lets you encrypt backup files and restore data from encrypted backups even if you have lost a password. To enable backup file encryption, select the Enable backup file encryption check box and click Add on the right to specify the necessary password.
Veeam Backup & Replication lets you decrypt backup files even if you have lost or forgotten the password. To learn more, see the Restoring Data from Encrypted Backup File Without Password scenario.
- Open the Notifications tab. Select the Send email notifications to the following recipients check box. When the job completes, you will receive a notification with details on the job performance. You will be able to receive e-mail notifications only if you specify global e-mail settings. To specify e-mail settings, select General Options from the main menu.
Make sure that you specify your email address once: either in the To field in general notification settings or in job notification settings. If you specify both, you will receive two identical notifications when the job is completed.
- Open the vSphere tab.
- If you back up a VM that is not VSS-aware, for example, a Linux-based VM, make sure that the Enable VMware tools quiescence check box is selected. This option helps create transactionally consistent backups of such VMs.
- Make sure that the Use changed block tracking data check box is selected. For VMware VMs with hardware version 7 or later, Veeam Backup & Replication employs VMware vSphere Changed Block Tracking (CBT). Instead of scanning VMFS to know which data blocks have changed since the previous job run, Veeam Backup & Replication queries the CBT module to get the list of changed blocks. Use of CBT increases the speed and efficiency of block-level incremental backups. For example, if only 5% of a VM changed since the last backup, incremental backup will be performed 20 times faster.
- Make sure that the Enable CBT for all protected VMs automatically check box is selected. This option forces use of CBT even in case it is switched off at the level of the ESX(i) host.
At the Guest Processing step of the wizard, you can enable additional options for VM guest OS processing:
- Application-aware image processing, which will ensure proper restore of VSS-aware applications. To back up running VMs with VSS-aware applications, Veeam Backup & Replication uses application-aware image processing based on Microsoft VSS. Jobs with application-aware image processing produce transactionally consistent backups, that, unlike crash consistent backups, ensure proper recovery of virtualized applications without any data loss.
- Guest OS file indexing, which will enable you to search for guest OS files in backed up VMs and restore files in 1 click. With this option selected, Veeam Backup & Replication creates a catalog (or index) of VM guest OS files. To learn about the 1-click restore scenario, see the Searching for Guest OS Files and Performing 1-Click Restore section.
To enable application-aware image processing and indexing:
- At the Guest Processing step of the wizard, select the Enable application-aware processing check box.
- Select the Enable guest file system indexing check box.
- Specify credentials for the user account with Local Administrator permissions on all VMs included into the job: click Add on the right of the Credentials field and specify the user name and password. If you have specified credentials before, you can simply select them from the Credentials list. OS credentials are required to install, start and remove Veeam's runtime process that coordinates indexing and VSS activities inside the VM.
By default, the specified guest OS credentials are used for all VMs processed by the backup job. If you back up several VMs that use different guest OS credentials, click Credentials. Select a VM in the list and click Set User > Standard credentials/Linux credentials. Then specify guest OS credentials with Local Administrator permissions for this VM. Repeat the procedure for all VMs in the job.
- To specify advanced options for VSS processing, click Applications. Select a VM in the list and click Edit.
- On the General tab, select the Try application processing, but ignore failures option to continue the backup job even if VSS errors occur. If application-aware image processing fails during the job, Veeam Backup & Replication will try to create a transactionally consistent backup with VMware Tools quiescence.
- Make sure that the Process transaction logs with this job option is selected to correctly handle transaction logs after the backup job is completed. In this case, if the backup job finishes successfully, Veeam Backup & Replication will truncate transaction logs so that they do not overflow storage space. If together with Veeam Backup & Replication you use a third-party backup tool that maintains consistency of transaction logs, select the Perform copy only option to prevent possible conflicts.
If you add a virtualized Microsoft SQL Server to the backup job, you can configure the job to copy transaction logs. To learn more, see Backing up and Restoring Microsoft SQL Server Databases.
- Click Indexing, select the necessary VM in the list and click Edit > Windows indexing or Linux indexing. Select Index everything to perform indexing of the entire guest file system.
A backup job can be run manually, or scheduled to run periodically. To schedule a backup job:
- At the Schedule step of the wizard, select the Run the job automatically check box. If you do not select this check box, the job will be saved and you will have to run it manually.
- Select the schedule type: daily, monthly, periodically or continuously. You can also chain the jobs so that they run one after another.
- Make sure the Retry failed VM processing check box is selected. During the retry cycle, only VMs that failed during the main backup cycle will be processed.
- Select the Terminate job if it exceeds allowed backup window check box and click Window. Define the backup window for your environment. In case the created job overlaps the specified window, it will be automatically terminated not to produce additional overhead on your virtual environment.
- Click Apply.
- Review the summary of backup job settings.
- Select the Run the job when I click Finish check box and click Finish. The job will start.
When the job is running, you can view job statistics in the real-time mode. Job statistics provide detailed data on the job: job progress, duration, processing rate, performance bottlenecks, the amount of data processed, read and transferred and other details of the job performance. Beside general job statistics, you can view detailed data for each VM or VM container processed by the job.
- Open the Backup & Replication view.
- Select the Jobs node in the inventory pane.
- Double-click the job in the working area and click Show Details. Now you can track the job performance as the job runs.
- Select the name of a specific VM or a VM container to view detailed statistics for this specific object only. Note that Veeam Backup & Replication processes all VMs and VM containers in the job in parallel.
- Wait for the job to complete. Note that the job must complete with the Success or at least the Warning status. If the job completes with the Failed status, the backup file will not be created and you will not be able to perform restore operations.
To perform incremental backup of a VM, do the following:
- Open the Backup & Replication view.
- Select the Jobs node in the inventory pane.
- Right-click the job in the working area and select Start. Wait for the job to complete. Note that the job must complete with the Success or at least the Warning status.
After a backup job completes, the resulting backup file is stored to the backup repository that you have selected as a backup target. Veeam Backup & Replication creates a full backup file, VBK, during the first run of a backup job. During every next job run, it copies changes that were made to the VM since the last backup, whether full or incremental.
Depending on the backup mode you selected, Veeam Backup & Replication handles incremental changes differently:
- If you use the incremental backup mode (forever forward incremental or forward incremental), Veeam Backup & Replication saves incremental changes to the VIB file next to the VBK file on the backup repository.
- If you use the reversed incremental backup mode, Veeam Backup & Replication injects copied changes to the full backup file and saves replaced blocks of data as a reversed increment file, VRB, next to the VBK file on the backup repository.
Additionally, next to backup files, Veeam Backup & Replication creates a backup metadata file, VBM, that contains information on the backup job, VMs in the backup, number and structure of backup files, restore points and so on. This metadata file facilitates import of backups and mapping of backup jobs to existing backups.
To check backup results:
- Open the Files view.
- In the inventory pane, expand the backup repository file tree.
- Open the target folder on the backup repository. In this folder, find the subfolder with the backup job name and open it. Make sure that it contains a VBK, VIB/VRB and VBM files.
- Open the Backup & Replication view.
- Select the Jobs node in the inventory pane. Double-click the backup job in the working area. Check the job results.
- If you have chosen to receive an e-mail message once the job is completed, open your email client and check the Inbox folder. Make sure that you have two incoming e-mails with job results: one for the full backup and one for the incremental backup.