Live backup of virtual machines using Symantec Backup Exec 2012

Virtual machines (VMs) have become a boon with small businesses, even here in Metro Chicago. With VMs, small businesses are able to maximize limited IT budget to expand the computer systems supporting their businesses’ growth.

As providers of managed IT services, we needed to find ways to backup not only the content of their VMs, but their whole virtual machines. Traditional ways of duplicating whole servers, physical and virtual, require taking the machine offline. However, we needed to backup their VMs while running. We needed to do live VM backups.

And so we began testing apps in the market offering live VM backups. For this blog, we document how we set up and tested Symantec Backup Exec 2012.

We installed SBE 2012 Trial Version on our test server. SBE 2012 already contains a license for a media server, an agent for Applications and Databases, an agent for VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V, and an Agent for Windows.

Of interest to us here is how the agent for VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V performs a live VM backup of a Hyper-V virtual machine.

Adding a media server

We will save our VM copies here.

  1. On the main menu, click Storage (Image 1).
    Image 1.
    VM Backup: Create Storage 01
  2. On the sub-menu, click Configure (Image 1).
  3. For our test, we chose Disk-based storage (Image 1). Click Next.
  4.  Choose Disk Storage (Image 2). Click Next.
    Image 2.
    VM Backup: Create Storage 02
  5. Give a Name and a Description for the disk storage (Image 3). Click Next.
    Image 3.
    VM Backup: Create Storage 03
  6. Choose the backup storage device (Image 4). Click Next.
    Image 4.
    VM Backup: Create Storage 01
  7. Review the settings (Image 5). Click Finish to create the new storage device.
    Image 5.
    VM Backup: Create Storage 05

Adding the VM server

This step is necessary to avoid receiving “completed with exceptions” results.

  1. Click Backup and Restore on the main menu.
  2. On the sub-menu, click Add to add a remote server to backup (Image 6).
    Image 6.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 01
  3. Choose Microsoft Windows servers and computers (Image 7). Click Next.
    Image 7.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 02
  4. Check “Allow Backup Exec to establish a trust with the servers” (Image 8). Click Next.
    Image 8.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 03
  5. You can manually Add the name of the server (Image 9) or use Browse to locate the server (Image 10). Click Next.
    Image 9.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 04
    Image 10.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 05
  6. Choose a Logon Account (Image 11). Click Next.
    Image 11.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 06
  7. Choose your preferred options (Image 12). Click Install.
    Image 12.
    VM Backup: Adding the server 07

Backing up the Hyper-V VM

  1. On the sub-menu, click Backup, then choose Backup to Disk (Image 13).
    Image 13.
    VM Backup: Backup virtual machine 01
  2. Give a Name to the backup job (Image 14).
    Image 14.
    VM Backup: Backup virtual machine 02
  3. On the left box, click Edit to choose the VMs to backup (Image 14).
  4. Choose the VMs you want to backup. Exclude the others (Image 15). Click OK.
    Image 15.
    VM Backup: Backup virtual machine 03
  5. Going back to Backup Properties windows, click Edit on the right box to setup the backup options (Image 14).
  6. Choose the schedule for the backup job (Image 16).
    Image 16.
    VM Backup: Backup virtual machine 04
  7. Setup the storage options (Image 17).
    Image 17.
    VM Backup: Backup virtual machine 05
  8. Setup the other options (Image 17). Click OK when done.
  9. Going back to the Backup Properties window (Image 14), click OK to complete the backup job properties.

In its initial run, it took 24 minutes to fully backup the test 40-GB VM. Incremental backups on the following runs took 12 minutes to complete.

While backup is on-going, we tried working on the VM server. It responded like there is no backup ongoing.