VMware backup

The Backup Manager offers backup and recovery service for VMware vSphere (ESXi) virtual machines. This is done by creating an identical virtual machine with the same operating system, hardware device settings (drivers for modems, network adapters, printers), the same documents and so on. The machine is created automatically at the location you specify (it can be on the same server as the original machine or on a different one).

VMware backup and recovery is available on Windows devices. Please see the table below for compatibility details.

VMware version Vista 7 8 10 Server 2003* Server 2008 Server 2008 R2 Server SBS 2011 Server 2012 Server 2012 R2
4.1 + + + + + + + + + +
5.0 + + + + + + + + + +
5.1 + + + + + + + + + +
5.5 64-bit versions only + + + +
6.0 + + + +

* Windows Server 2003 doesn't support the recovery of individual files and folders. The minimum VMware recovery unit on this OS is a virtual disk.


Access to most backup and recovery options requires a paid version of ESX. There is an alternative solution for free ESX users, but it takes some additional steps (see the Free ESX workaround section).

Recommended pre-backup settings

Before you start backups, it can be a good idea to enable Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on your virtual machines. It is a highly effective feature that reduces the duration of subsequent backups.

For requirements and instructions, please refer to article 1020128 from the VMware Knowledge Base (Changed Block Tracking (CBT) on virtual machines).

Note that the CBT feature doesn't influence statistics in the Size of processed files and Transferred size columns in backup reports.

Backup options

You can back up any of the following:

  • the whole server (its configuration will not be backed up),

  • a particular virtual machine

  • one of its disks

When you edit your backup selection for VMware, you can enable log truncation for MS SQL and MS Exchange.

  1. Click Manage logs > Enable log truncation.

  1. Enter your access credentials (an administrator account is required).

More on MS SQL and MS Exchange log truncation

If your VMware machine has MS SQL or MS Exchange installed, you can enable automatic log truncation for these applications. The operation involves unneeded logs only and is performed strictly after successfully completed backup sessions.

Log truncation works on the US English versions of MS Windows Server. See the table below for other software compatibility details.

Guest systems VMware versions MS Exchange versions MS SQL versions
Windows Server 2008 and later (US English versions) 5.1, 5.5, and 6.0 2008 and later 2005 and later

To enable log truncation, make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. The target virtual machine has VMware and PowerShell Tools installed.

  2. The target virtual machine is started.

  3. VMware Tools are running.

Free ESX workaround

There is a workaround for free ESX.

  1. Install the Backup Manager on each of your VMware virtual machines (a separate device for each VM).

  2. Back up the virtual machine. Here's the minimum requirement:

    • The system state of your VM (the System State data source).

    • The whole system disk – C:\ or another disk that has your operating system and that the operating system boots from (the Files and Folders data source).

  3. Perform recovery in either of these ways:

    • Create a new virtual machine with required characteristics and perform bare metal recovery there (recommended as a faster option).

    • Perform virtual disaster recovery to a VMDK file (learn more). Use VMware vCenter Converter to convert the local VMDK file from the workstation format to the appropriate format and to attach it to the ESXi server.