Back Up Hyper-V Host Machines Using ShadowProtect

MARCH 12TH, 2013

Our support department gets a lot of questions about virtual machines. Recently, a lot of these questions relate to backing up Hyper-V host machines and any VM's hosted on it. Here’s a quick guide to getting the most out of your host machine and virtual machine backups using StorageCraft ShadowProtect. There are a few things you should consider doing, to properly backup your Hyper-V host machines. These will also ensure the integrity of your ShadowProtect backup images.


How to Back Up Hyper-V Using ShadowProtect

To get the most out of your Hyper-V backup process, you’ll want to back up your host machine and each virtual machine as well. Here’s how to do it: 1.      Be sure that the virtual hard disk (VHD) is running on a separate volume from the OS system. This means you’ll have a system drive (we’ll call it C:) and a separate volume (we’ll call it V:). This is where your VHD is stored. 2.      Having the VHD run from a separate drive will not only increase the performance of the machines but will also make it possible to segregate your backup jobs, which will be useful in a moment. Attempting to back up the volume housing the guest VHDs will pause the virtual machines when VSS calls the volume to capture a snapshot. This will cause an interruption in production on the virtual machines. 3.      Next, back up the entire system drive (C:) as one job. 4.      You should have ShadowProtect installed on each of the virtual machines. Be sure to run a backup job on each one*. This will allow you not only to monitor the VMs and see any ShadowProtect errors that may come up, but it also gives you the flexibility to restore any individual VM to a new host.  Be sure to monitor your machines from a ShadowProtect management console (like the brand-new version of ShadowControl) so you can see your host and virtual machines all at once. 5.      Regularly check the virtual machines’ event logs for VSS errors as they can indicate problems with the backup. This is just a standard practice to make sure there are no errors, and that everything is running smoothly.

Hyper-V Backup Tips for Pros

It’s important to understand that the more lines of communications between the host and the VM, the more difficult it is to take a pristine backup. It’s always best to backup the host and each individual VM to ensure that you have everything backed up while maintaining flexibility and full support from StorageCraft. * Remember, if any of the virtual machines don’t have a ShadowProtect license on/for it, StorageCraft can’t support it and therefore can’t guarantee the quality of the backups or help with troubleshooting. Author Note: Special thanks to Kevin Steele and Steven Snyder for helping sort the technical mumbo jumbo.

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