Backing Up Hyper-V Host Machines Using ShadowProtect

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Our support department gets a lot of questions about virtual machines and recently, a lot of these questions relate to backing up Hyper- V host machines and any virtual machines hosted on that machine. Here’s a quick guide to getting the most out of your host machine and virtual machine backups using StorageCraft ShadowProtect.

There are a few things you should consider doing to properly backup your Hyper-V host machines and ensure the integrity of your ShadowProtect backup images. To get the most out of your backup process you’ll want to back up your host machine and each virtual machine as well. Here’s how to do it:

1.      Be sure that the virtual hard disk (VHD) is running on a separate volume from the OS system. This means you’ll have a system drive (we’ll call it C:) and a separate volume (we’ll call it V:) where your VHD is stored.

2.      Having the VHD run from a separate drive will not only increase the performance of the machines, but will also make it possible to segregate your backup jobs, which will be useful in a moment.

3.      Next, back up the entire system drive (C:) as one job.

4.      You should have the ShadowProtect VM client installed on each of the virtual machines. Be sure to run a backup job on each one*. This will allow you not only to monitor the VMs and see any ShadowProtect errors that may come up, but it also gives you the flexibility to restore any individual VM to a new host.  Be sure to monitor your machines from a ShadowProtect management console (like the brand-new version of ShadowControl CMD) so you can see your host and virtual machines all at once.

5.      Regularly check the virtual machines’ event logs for VSS errors as they can indicate problems with the backup. This is just a standard practice to make sure there are no errors, and that everything is running smoothly.

It’s important to understand that the more lines of communications between the host and the VM, the more difficult it is to take a pristine backup. It’s always best to backup the host and each individual VM to ensure that you have everything backed up while maintaining flexibility and full support from StorageCraft.

* Remember, if any of the virtual machines don’t have a ShadowProtect license on/for it, StorageCraft can’t support it and therefore can’t guarantee the quality of the backups or help with troubleshooting.

Author Note: Special thanks to Kevin Steele and Steven Snyder for helping sort the technical mumbo jumbo.

Photo Credit: br1dotcom via Compfight cc

Casey Morgan

Casey Morgan

Casey Morgan is the marketing content specialist at StorageCraft. U of U graduate and lover of words, his experience lies in construction and writing, but his approach to both is the same: start with a firm foundation, build a quality structure, and then throw in some style. If he’s not arguing about comma usage or reading, you'll likely find him and his Labrador hiking, biking, or playing outdoors -- he's even known to strum a few chords by the campfire.

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2 Responses to Backing Up Hyper-V Host Machines Using ShadowProtect

  1. David Grinder says:

    I have a question with the following…your use of the Word “Host” in between the *stars* (see below)

    5. Regularly check the virtual machines’ event logs for VSS errors as they can indicate problems with the backup. This is good to do because when the *host* machine calls for a backup of the VM, the VM is asked to pause processes while ShadowProtect takes the snapshot

    Don’t you mean “Guest”? As per you reasoning in the above statements, the “Host” is only backing up the OS drive. The ShadowProtect Client, that’s installed on the VM “Guest” machine, calls for the backup itself, not the Hyper-V “Host”.

  2. Casey Morgan Casey Morgan says:

    You’re correct, we were referring to the guest. But, after further review, we noticed that the sentence you pointed out in step five doesn’t quite fit with the remainder of the post, so we’ve removed it. It is, however, still important to check the virtual machines’ event logs for VSS errors– this is just a standard best practice to make sure everything is running smoothly.

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