I have two ESXi servers where the storage assigned to each VM is 80 GB but only 10 GB is used. I need to backup the VMs as I need to reconfigure the SAN (delete the LUNs and create new LUNs) and I need to know what is the best way to backup the VMs to a Windows server/workstation. I know I could shutdown the VMs and copy each VM but I do not have enough store to copy two 80 GB files. Is there a way to backup the VMs and then restore it besides using something like ARCserve where I must backup each VM with a client agent.
You can use some way to put the VM files on the backup server and then use ARCserve.
Or, if you have a VCB license, you can try to find some integration scripts.
You could spend $100 and get an external USB drive and copy them there. Antiquated, but it works. I recently bought a 500GB usb drive for $99 at OfficeMax to store Worksation VMs on. (I am always finding interesting ways to screw up VMs with Workstation, LOL)
You could use vConvert and do a V2V conversion and resize the drives during the conversion to decrease the size of the VMDK files.
You could do both.
Does ESXi allow for thin provisioning like vSphere? I am not certain off-hand. I only use ESX. I know thin provisioning wasn't available until 4.0.
There are 3rd Party utilities that will shrink them for you as well. (decrease the provisioned diskspace when you have over provisioned)
Just some thoughts.
My solution for backing up my ESXi volumes was to create a datastore on an eSATA drive and use the free GhettoVCB.sh script. You can edit the script to enable Thin provisioning which will significantly lower the amount of disk space you need. You could use an NFS datatstore as well if you have an NFS server available on your network but I found that the eSATA solution was much quicker.