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Backing Up Host + VM's with Pass-through Disks


nlitend1
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Virtual Machine Backup  

5 members have voted

  1. 1. How do you backup your VM's?

    • Host OS Backup
      3
    • VM WHS 2011 Backup
      0
    • RAID
      0
    • Third Party Backup on Host
      1
    • Other....please explain.
      1


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Is it possible to use 2008 R2 server backup to backup the host and the VM's while the VM's have pass-through disks connected? I know it is not possible to take VM snapshots with the pass-through disks connected, so I'm concerned the 2008 R2 server backup won't work as well. I think i read somewhere that it's VSS that does the backup so it might be in the clear, but I just want to confirm this.

 

 

Aside from raid, how is everyone configuring their VM's for backup? Are you using 2011 Server backup to backup to a pass-through disk, or backing up the VM's via the host OS?

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Snapshots and via the host OS. But it isn't on a pass-through disk as you don't pass-through a disk to the host.

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Guest no-control

I snapshot the VM's

I backup the host via WHS2011 (which is a VM)

I then backup the data in WHS2011 (the pass through drives) to an external HDD for offsite storage.

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I snapshot the VM's

I backup the host via WHS2011 (which is a VM)

I then backup the data in WHS2011 (the pass through drives) to an external HDD for offsite storage.

 

Are the snapshots stored on the host drive or on the VM drive?

 

So essentially WHS2011 backups up the entire system (minus pass-through drives) to an external hard drive. You don't utilize server 2008 R2 (host) backup then. How would restores work in that case? It seems like if you lost the host OS with the hypervisor, you're essentially losing the ability to do a restore...IIRC you're running RAID 1 on the host, so maybe that's how you'd do it... is it possible without RAID? I like this idea, because 2008 R2 server backup is very slow compared to whs backup.

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Guest no-control

Sorry I think I miss understood what you were asking. They are on the VM drive (RAID 5 array)

 

My offsite/external drive contains the following:

  • WHS2011 data backup (critical only) <1.5TB
  • Copy of the VM Array (just a straight folder copy) So this would include the VMs, .VHD, Snaps, anyother data associated with the VM (install .iso etc...) ~300GB
  • a few other misc files .Jpegs, MP4s, .dlls that are steganographic shells for scans of SSN cards, Passports, Password list, marriage license, etc... these are placed in an encrypted hidden volume. :ph34r:

So my restore for a catastrophic failure (i.e. fire) would be as such:

  1. Rebuild host WS2K08R2 with clean install and Hyper-V Role
  2. From offsite/external drive restore VM array
  3. Adjust settings as needed for restored VMs to run.
  4. Restore Data (pass through) arrays from offsite/external backup
  5. Restore Video Data array (pass through) from offsite DVD/BD collection. <- only thing not backed up to an offsite drive. I just keep the disks offsite.
  6. Finally use restored WHS2011 VM to restore all clients lost.

I do backup the host to my WHS mostly for system state so that if I monkey it up with a bad regkey edit or something I can restore it to a previous state. While the VM array is a manual copy/paste (actually a simple xcopy script) I run it concurrently with the other backups and its usually done by morning to be carted off to it offsite home. I only need to do it 1x-2x month.

Edited by no-control
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I do backup the host to my WHS mostly for system state so that if I monkey it up with a bad regkey edit or something I can restore it to a previous state. While the VM array is a manual copy/paste (actually a simple xcopy script) I run it concurrently with the other backups and its usually done by morning to be carted off to it offsite home. I only need to do it 1x-2x month.

 

 

Ingenious!!! :o Very well thought out! I have one question though.... how do u restore the host to a previous via WHS VM? Don't you need to boot the VM file from within the hypervisor of the host..i.e. how can you restore an image of the host while it's in use.

 

Also, is there a reason you choose to use a manual copy the VM folder and WHS backup of the host over using Host Server (which would backup the host and VM folder in one step) backup to a partition on that external drive?

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Guest no-control

I've never needed it as I haven't screwed up the host (I use VMs first to test configs) I assumed restore from a USB drive but TBH I've never tried it. I did this before the RAID was in place on the host, so I suppose it really is not needed. I could run the WHS VM from another machine if need be. Probably not the best way to set it up.

 

This is getting out of server setup and more into philosophic approach. Personally I do not want my host machine to do anything but serve up VMs. If I need more functionality such as a DC/ DNS/ DHCP/ RRAS I would use a VM for this. A backup of the host is pretty much pointless in my case. Especially with the RAID in place. Its a standard server install with Hyper-V role and a second user account. Minimal customization. It isn't a big deal to recreate the server if I have the VMs backedup.

 

I suppose you could use the windows backup role, but why? Manual copy of folder was a personal choice and in my case was easier and faster than using backup. I also wanted access to all files without issue. I didn't want to have an image file. For what it is, its fine.

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  • 1 month later...

I use Windows Server backup which backs up my host and all the VM's. It stores the backups on an attached Drobo. I have WHS 2011 in a VM, and I utilize it's own backup procedure to back itself up - including it's data on the pass-thru disks - onto a dedicated drive in my server. All seems to work well.

 

A thought regarding VM snapshots: I see that a number of you are using snapshots. Back when I was researching Hyper-V and getting my plans together for building a hyper-v server, I found numerous articles recommending against using snapshots - particularly as a means of backup. If I remember correctly, one of the main concerns was that the more snapshots you have the slower that VM will perform. Snapshots are useful if you're about to make some risky changes to a VM and want the ability to easily roll it back, but I don't think snapshotting would be considered a "best practice" for VM backup. Just throwing that out there.

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Guest no-control

No where did I say I use a snapshot as my only backup. Its a server once its configured how many snapshots do you really need?

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No where did I say I use a snapshot as my only backup. Its a server once its configured how many snapshots do you really need?

I mentioned that more as a public service announcement I guess. I just didn't want people (the OP primarily) to mistakingly think that Snapshots are appropriate for backing up VM's because they aren't. Here's a couple of articles on Hyper-V vm snapshots, both directly from Microsoft if anyone's curious:

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd560637(WS.10).aspx

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2009/04/23/should-virtual-machine-snapshots-be-used-in-production-hyper-v.aspx

Edited by eagle63
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