Using Hyper-V Server virtualization technology, you can virtualize your physical environment to reduce the cost of physical hardware. As part of IT best practices, you implement monitoring solutions to monitor the Hyper-V Servers and virtual machines running on them. You also take necessary actions to provide security to production environment by means of installing antivirus software. Then it also becomes necessary that you implement a backup mechanism to restore the business services as quickly as possible using a Hyper-V Server Backup tool.
This article is written to let you know as to why it is important to choose a dedicated Hyper-V Backup tool rather than relying on the existing mechanism as explained in bullet points below.
Third-party backup products are designed in such a way that the product is easy to use when it comes to backup or restore a virtual machine running on the Hyper-V Server. For example, using third-party backup product, you can select a virtual machine to backup or restore. In case of any disaster with a virtual machine, it becomes easy for an IT administrator to use the flexible backup product’s console to restore a virtual machine from backup copies and restore the business services as quickly as possible.
2. Verification of Restores
Third-party backup products provide features to verify restores without impacting the production workload. IT administrators can use the verification feature to restore the backup copies to a standalone environment to make sure these backup copies can be restored successfully in the future, if required.
3. Designed for use with Hyper-V
A third-party backup product is designed to use with a specific technology. For example, SQL Server Backup products are designed to backup/restore SQL Server database. Similarly, third-party Hyper-V Backup Products are designed to use specifically with Hyper-V Servers. Since these dedicated Hyper-V backup products are integrated with Hyper-V closely, they are more trusted by the IT organizations.
4. Full Backup Copy of Virtual Machine
Although, starting with Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V Server offers replication services, sometimes referred as Hyper-V Replica, which can be used to build a disaster recovery scenario. The replication takes place every 5 minutes and changed data are replicated to the Hyper-V Servers located on the disaster recovery site. At the disaster site, you only have changed copies to restore virtual machine from a failure. What if you need to restore the full virtual machine? In that case, you would require the full backup copy of the virtual machine which is only possible if you are using a dedicated Hyper-V backup product.
5. Maintaining Different Versions of Backup Copies
There are several reasons to maintain different versions of backup copies. One of the reasons is to revert back configuration to a point-in-time and another reason is to restore the business services as quickly as possible from a backup copy of your choice. A dedicated Hyper-V backup product can maintain several backup copies of a virtual machine.
6. Agenltess Backups/Restores
Most of the third-party Hyper-V Backup products ship without an Agent. An agent is a piece of software which is installed on a Hyper-V server with communicates with the Backup software. In case of an agentless backup software, it is easy for administrators to perform backup/restore operations without worrying about the agent’s response.
7. Timely backing up virtual machines
As part of the standard IT process, many organizations have a strategy in place in which backups for critical IT components including virtual machines are scheduled in a timely manner. These backups ensure that in case of any disaster (including physical), the service can be restored from a backup copy taken from a dedicated backup product rather than relying on native methods. The backup copy not only allows you to restore services but also helps you understand the impact of restoring a backup copy which is older.
8. Centralized Management
Backup software ships with a centralized management tool. The centralized management tool is capable of managing multiple Hyper-V Servers and checking the backup operations on multiple Hyper-V servers from a single console.
9. Avoid unnecessary Files Backup
Since the backup software is designed to work with a specific technology, it is designed in such a way that it excludes the files which are not necessary to include in the virtual machine backup copies. This helps in reducing the backup copy size.
A dedicated Hyper-V backup product offers compressing backup data before it is written to the backup drive. You can enable/disable compression for all or selected virtual machines using the third-party backup product’s console.
Security is the major concern for IT organizations nowadays. Third-party Hyper-V Backup products use encryption technology to encrypt backup copies stored on a backup drive. These backup copies can only be read by the same Hyper-V backup product.
12. Backup and Offsite Location
As part of the IT processes, every organization ensures that the backup copies are kept at an off-site location and these backup copies can be retrieved easily when the disaster takes place at the production site. Native tools do not support taking backup to an off-site location. Third-party backup products can provide off-site backup feature in which backup copiescan be saved to an off-site location without requiring much network bandwidth.
13. Incremental Backup Copies
A dedicated Hyper-V backup product ensures that only changed contents are backed up rather than taking a full backup copy every time the backup job runs.
14. More Backup Options
Third-party backup products provide more backup options like taking daily backups or monthly backups which can be scheduled at a pre-defined interval using the centralized management console.
15. Backup to External Sources
Third-party Hyper-V backup products support backing up virtual machines to external sources including USB external devices, eSata External drives, USB flash drives, Fileserver network shares, NAS devices, and RDX cartriges.
16. Backup Retention Policies
Old backup copies can be deleted if they are not required. You can configure the backup retention policy for each virtual machine. A dedicated Hyper-V Backup product can take automatic actions to delete the older backup copies as per the retention policy you configure.
17. Ability to Restore individual files or folders
Without using a dedicated Hyper-V backup product, it would be difficult for IT administrators to restore individual files/folders from a virtual machine backup copy. Some backup products provide a feature called “Exchange Level Item Restore” which can be used to restore selected emails or mailboxes from a backup copy of a virtual machine.
18. Application Vendor Recommendation for Backup Products
Many of the application vendors require that an enterprise backup system is installed in the production environment to backup data of their applications running in the virtual machines. Since most of the vendors impose this requirement, or recommend to back up application data using a dedicated Hyper-V backup product, native backup tools fail to do so.
19. Error and Reporting
Error and Reporting are the main features a third-party backup product provides. It lets you take necessary actions if a failure takes place with a backup or restore operation. Using reporting feature of a backup product, you can know how many virtual machines have been backed up successfully and how many virtual machines have failed.
In case if you’re not able to restore virtual machine from a backup copy or hit with an error during the restore or backup operation, you can always contact product support to get you out from this situation. Many third-party backup products provide 24/7 support for their products.
Altaro Hyper-V Backup
Altaro Hyper-V Backup offers a simple, easy-to-use solution for backing up Hyper-V VMs. It includes features such as offsite backup, remote management, Exchange item-level Restore, Compression, Encryption, and much more at an affordable cost.
Learn more or try Altaro Hyper-V Server Backup Tool for yourself: http://www.altaro.com/hyper-v-backup/. It’s completely free, forever for up to 2 VMs.