VMware ESXi Backup – How to Back Up ESXi Host Configuration

VMware ESXi Backup – How to Back Up ESXi Host Configuration

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While discussing the importance of backup VMware vSphere VMs, little attention has been paid to ESXi backup for host configuration. Failure to back up the ESXi host configuration can have several consequences, ranging from minor to severe.

Experts traditionally distinguish between virtualization and host and guest terminology. The hypervisor host is a VM that contains the hypervisor and manages the basic physical system as it distributes and manages VMs that organize one or more guest loads.

Even if you mitigate the effects of an ESXi host malfunction, reconfiguring it is neither the most comfortable nor the most beneficial use of your time. For this cause, you are advised to keep your ESXi host configuration secure and renewable.

ESXi configuration files provide the maintenance mode of the ESXi configuration backup command line. To recover the ESXi configuration backup archive, the VMware ESXi host configuration file needs to store backup files of the current ESXi configuration.

Why need VMware ESXi backup?

Any essential data is at risk of being lost or deleted forever. That is why VMware ESXi backup and disaster recovery solutions promise quick, safe, and easy protection for a VMware environment that allows you to quickly bring up a backed-up VM or recover individual files within a VM backup file for disaster recovery.

Key benefits of the VMware backup solution should include:

  • Application-aware backups
  • Exclude swap file from backup
  • Granular files restore
  • VM instant spin-up
  • Live VM migration
  • Point in time VM restore
  • VMware Changed Block Tracking
  • Backup to multi-destinations

VMware ESXi backup

VMware Backup has brought fundamental improvements to the world of data protection, such as the benefits of encapsulation and abstraction.

Nevertheless, some challenges still exist, including how to ensure data consistency and address the problem of over-consumption of physical resources on this technology.

It is tempting to think that backing up your server is as easy as backing up your virtual disk format virtual machine (VMDK) files because VMware encapsulates physical servers in just a few large image files.

You are besides, backing up your virtual machine while running does not guarantee that all in-flight activity will be fully considered. You risk inconsistent data and inaccurate information in the end, which will make the restoration unsuccessful.

The method with a local backup agent installed in each virtual machine

In this traditional approach, the backup software agent is installed in the VM just like on a physical server. Here, the data flows to the LAN backup/recovery infrastructure, much like if the agent is installed on a physical server.

The benefits of this method are:

  • No procedural changes or special skills are required as the installation and configuration of the backup agent are similar to the process that is otherwise followed if a physical server is used;
  • The recovery process is also unchanged compared to a physical server-level file recovery;
  • File-level recovery is possible;
  • Full and additional backups are possible;
  • This method helps to preserve the consistency of the application data if you use specialized application backup agents, such as Exchange or SQL.

The method with a backup agent installed in the ESX service console

In this method, you install the backup software agent in the designated ESX service console and back up the basic VMDK file set to each virtual machine.

The benefits are:

  • You only need one backup agent instead of a VM agent;
  • You can back up your VMs by simply backing up your VMDK files;
  • Quick image-level recovery is possible.

Use the command line for ESXi host configuration backup and restoration

Backing up and properly restoring the VM are critical tasks for workload protection. Operate an ESXi command-line interface such as VMware vSphere CLI or PowerCLI to back up and restore the ESXi host.

To synchronize the configuration changed with persistent storage, run this command:

vim-cmd hostsvc/firmware/sync_config

VMware administrators can back up the ESXi host using two ESXi command-line scripting interfaces: VMware vSphere CLI and PowerCLI. After backing up the ESXi host, those administrators can use the same language to restore it.

The backup of the ESXi host configuration under Windows can use the vSphere CLI command line, such as:

vicfg–server = host_IP_address –username = root -s file_name

In this example command line, host_IP_address is the IP address assigned to the ESXi host, and file_name is the desired name of the backup file being made.

In many samples, the target file name appears in a compressed format, such as TAR, so it is necessary to include a file name extension, such as test_backup.tgz.

If the root password protects the host, the backup process prompts the password administrator before proceeding. Once administrators have backed up the ESXi host, they can restore it and the vSphere switch configuration.

Restoration universally compares the unique host identifier to the backup UUID and will not restore backups to hosts with different UUIDs, although administrators may reject this protection.

Is PowerCLI an option?

Now, backing up and restoring the configuration of ESXi is relatively simple. There might be a situation where the only choice is what you already have on a system that manages the environment.

You don’t always get the rights to install an additional utility. So PowerCLI to the rescue. PowerCLI is a tool bundled for free with the VMware vSphere environment and should permanently be installed on the management station or vCenter (if Windows-based).

The download and installation and backup and restoration methods are pretty simple.


The extreme development of virtualization platforms such as VMware vSphere has introduced additional workload protection challenges. IT administrators can often apply different alternatives and options differently for each workload.

Such flexibility is emphatic, but organizations must make the best choices and adopt sound practices to ensure that they adequately protect each workload. Most virtualization backup products with image-level backups use VM snapshots to halt writes to the disk when backups are running.

There are many useable features that use two virtual machines, which, though located on separate hosts, share the same virtual disk file, which is crucial for VMware ESXi backup.

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