VMware server connection

Add new VMware server connection

Click Add Connection to launch the wizard.

The first page of the connection wizard will ask for the address and administrative level credentials of the vCenter or host you would like to connect to.

The second and final page of the connection wizard explains that each VM will need a local client to manage backup and restore operations. This page gives you the option to automatically register all VMs on the connection (see VMware auto registration). Click Finish to add the connection.

When connect directly to a host managed by a vCenter Server, you will be given the option to connect to the vCenter Server instead. If you choose to do so, a new connection wizard will appear, and the address will be automatically set.

Upon completion, you will receive a notification that the connection was added successfully, or message describing why the connection failed.

Edit existing VMware server connection

Select View Connections to open the connections dialog.

From this dialog you have the ability to disconnect, reconnect or completely remove a connection. To view further information about a particular connection click Properties from the context menu.

The Connection Properties dialog gives more in-depth information about a connection. From this dialog you can also edit address information (not editable if connected), view Hosts if connection is a vCenter Server, and enable/disable VMware auto registration.

VMware auto registration

VMware auto registration allows your CFA to automatically register all current and future VMs on a given connection. This process will create a local VM client and assign it the VM client defaults. This is an all or nothing setting however, individual clients can be manually unregistered at any time. If manually unregister, the client will be excluded from future auto registration.

Auto registration can be enabled as follows:

  1. Add new VMware server connection.

  2. Edit existing VMware server connection.

Once auto registration has completed, a notification will be added to the Dashboard tab.

If you click on this notification it will take you to the auto registration report for the given connection. You can view auto registration reports at any time on the Connection Properties dialog.

For each auto registration report there will also be an email sent if email notifications have been configured. You can disable auto register report emails in System > Settings > System Alerts.

infoIf your CFA happens to be running on the connection, it will not be automatically registered and will prevent manual registration.

Edit VMware client configuration

To edit a VM client configuration, click the Edit button on the actions bar.

Setting Description
Synthetic Full Complete VMware backups are a complete snapshot. Subsequent backups are appended to the previous backups and stored as a full file set/snapshot.
File Set VMware backups are complete and therefore do not have an editable file set.
Deduplication VMware backups are always deduplicated.
Change Block Tracking If enabled, Change Block Tracking will allow for incremental and differential backups of VMs.
Ignore Unallocated Sectors When CBT is enabled, this will only perform a backup of the used portion of the disk.1
Quiesce Data If selected, and the VM is powered on when the snapshot is taken, VMware Tools is used to quiesce the file system in the VM. Quiescing a file system is a process of bringing the on-disk data of a physical or virtual computer into a state suitable for backups. This process might include such operations as flushing dirty buffers from the operating systems in-memory cache to disk, or other higher-level application-specific tasks.2
Skip Independent Persistent Disks This option allows the CFA to skip any VMDKs in a VM that are in independent persistent mode, and continue to back up the other disks. VMware provides the independent persistent mode for virtual disks to allow them to be excluded from snapshots. This is sometimes used to allow snapshots to be taken of the OS and primary data disks for a VM without having to include disks used for temporary data (cache, temp files, etc.). If your VM has a virtual disk in independent persistent mode when the snapshot is taken for backup, the job will fail unless this option has been selected.

To enable CBT the following VMware conditions must be met:

  • The host must be ESX/ESXi 4.0 or later.

  • The VM owning the disks to be tracked must be hardware version 7 or later.

  • I/O operations must go through the ESX/ESXi storage stack. So NFS is supported, as is RDM in virtual compatibility mode, but not RDM in physical compatibility mode. Of course VMFS is supported, whether backed by SAN, iSCSI, or local disk.

  • CBT must be enabled for the VM (see below).

  • Obviously, VM storage must not be (persistent or non-persistent) independent disk, meaning unaffected by snapshots.

  • The virtual disk must be located on a VMFS volume, backed by SAN, iSCSI, or local disk. RDM is not VMFS.

  • The VM must have zero (0) snapshots when CBT is enabled, for a clean start.

  • CBT is enabled by default on 6.1 and later versions.

  • CBT can also be checked via the Clients > VMware and looking for the CBT Enabled Column for registered VMs.

Restore VMware VM

To restore a backed up VMware VM, launch the restore wizard via one of the following:

  • Clients > Summary

  • Clients > VMware

  • Jobs > History

With the exception of selecting the job itself from Job > History, you will be presented with the option of which job to restore.

Once the wizard has been launched, you will see a Preparing Wizard screen followed by a screen showing all backups that can be restored from that VM. Select the backup you wish to restore and click Next.

You will be prompted to select the restore method, either Restore to Existing Virtual Machine or Create New Virtual Machine. Select the desired option and click Next.

infoIf you select Create New Virtual Machine, an additional screen will display prompting you for the details of the new connection. Complete the destination and data store information and select Next.

You will be prompted to select which data stores you wish to restore the VM disks to. If the data stores used by the original VM backup are available, you can select Use Existing. Otherwise, select a data store for each disk being restored. Click Next.

  • If you selected Restore to Existing Virtual Machine, you will be prompted to take a snapshot of the state of the VM before restoring over the VM. This is not required.

  • If you selected Restore to New VM, you will be prompted to name the new VM. Click Next.

A summary window will allow you to review the settings you have chosen. You will be asked if you wish to power on the VM after it is restored and if you wish to connect the VM to the network after it is restored.

After you have made your selections, select Finish. You can monitor the status of the restore in Clients > VMware (Action column).

Browse and restore VM backups

To browse and restore a VM backup:

  1. Select a VM, and then click the Browse and Restore button in the actions bar, or right-click a VM, and then click Browse and Restore.

  2. Select the job to restore files from.

  3. Select the type of restore:

    • Component Files

      Browse and restore the files that make up (define) the VM. This includes the VM .ovf file as well as its .vmdk file. Typically, these files are only useful if you need access to low-level, technical information regarding the VM.

    • Contained Files

      Browse and restore the files that are contained on the VM hard disks. Each disk can be explored independently using our exclusive file system browser UI. This is a great way to restore selected files from within a VM without having to restore (and possibly create) the entire thing.

      infoMounting the VM disks may not be immediate. Once started, the process will make a copy of the disks to work from. Once copied, subsequent mounts/restore requests will be significantly faster.
  4. Review your selections and click Finish.

  5. Select the files and/or folders to restore.

  6. Select the client and path to restore to. The path can be selected or browsed.

    In order to restore files to a VM, the following conditions must be met:

    • The VM must be powered on and it must be running the latest version of VMware tools for the managing entity to which it belongs (vCenter, ESX/ESXi, etc.).

    • Login credentials must be supplied for a valid, available account on the VM. This account will be used to gain access to the file system for purposes of saving restored files. Administrator-level accounts are recommended.

  7. Click Restore to submit the restore job. The files are restored to the path specified.

Remove VMware client

You can remove a VM client in two ways:

  • Go to Clients > VMware, right-click a VM, and then click Unregister.

  • Go to Clients > Edit, select a VM, and then click Delete.

Remove all VMware clients

  1. Click View Connections.

  2. Right-click on the server to be removed and click Remove.

    The remove wizard will appear and list the VMs that will be removed with the server connection.

  3. Click Yes to remove the connection and all VMs on the server selected.

infoExisting backup jobs may be retained or purged when unregistering a VM; however, a specific client cannot be retained while purging others if removed as a group/server. If you wish to retain a client in a group/server, see Remove a VM client above.

Application data restore from VM backups

Before doing a backup of a windows VM, the CFA can signal the guest OS to Quiesce the VSS writers. This will signal the writers to put their data into a consistent state like shutting down the service would without shutting down the service. This prepares the data in the program associated with the writer to be restored separately from the rest of the VM.

In this section, we will cover doing an application data restore for exchange, but other program with VSS writers can also be restored this way.

Preparing backups for application data restore

Before we can restore application data to a VSS writer, we need the files in a backup to be prepared for a restore. To do this, go to Clients > Edit, select the client for the VM, and check the Quiesce Data box in the VMware section.

The next backup will ask the VM guest OS to signal applications to prepare their data for restore before the VM snapshot is taken. After that the backup will proceed as normal.

Preparing a client for application data restore

In order to restore VSS data to a VM, the backup agent must be installed on the VM. This will provide the means for the CFA to send restore data to the VSS writers on the VM.

  1. Download and run the agent software from the Software subtab.

  2. On the agent configuration, set the IP address of the CFA, the password, and the port for the agent to listen on.

    The agent by default runs as the local system account, which only has administrator privileges on the local machine. Some VSS writers will require additional privileges within the application (i.e. Exchange or MSSQL).

  3. Open the agent configuration, go to the Service Control tab, and stop the service.

  4. Click Other Account, and enter the credentials for an account with local administrator access and administrator access to the application you are going to restore.

  5. Click Apply, and then start the agent service.

    A client configuration on the CFA will also need to be created, and configured to point to this agent. Go to Clients > Edit, and click New.

  6. Enter a name for the client, and choose the OS from the select list and click OK.

  7. Set the password and port to match the one used by the agent. Set the IP address to that of the guest OS, not the ESX host. This client is only needed for restoring data, and will not be used for backups, so we recommend setting the schedule to none.

Restoring the application data

To restore application data to a VSS writer:

  1. Go to Jobs > History, right-click the job to restore, and then click Browse and Restore.

  2. Select the Application Data restore type and click Next.

  3. Select the client to restore to from the list, and then click Next.

  4. Click Finish.

The CFA will communicate with VSS on the client VM through the agent running on that client, and display a list of VSS writers that can be restored. From here, you can select what data to restore to the available writers. It is possible with some writers like the Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange writers to browse into the writer, and select only a portion of the available to restore. In the screenshots below, only one Exchange database is being restored.

For an Exchange 2010 database restore, the agent will handle everything that has to be done one the exchange server (unmounting the database, preparing it for restoration, and mounting the restored database).

  1. For information on how to enable CBT manually, see the VMware Knowledge Base article

  2. If the VM requires a CBT reset, (usually due to a host being shut down uncleanly) see how to reset CBT on a VM