Backup solutions for VMware ESXi

Backup solutions for VMware ESXi

Free solutions

ghettoVCB - Free alternative for backing up VM's for ESX(i) 3.5 and 4.x+ - Updated 09/28/2010
ghettoVCBg2 - Free alternative for backing up VMs in ESX(i) 3.5 and 4.x (no SSH console required!)
This script performs backups of virtual machines residing on ESX(i)  3.5/4.0+ servers using methodology similar to VMware's VCB tool.
It's created and well maintained by lamw

Other script based solutions
Another ESXi backup script
Re: Free ESXi Backup Solution for Windows
Any new backup VM Solutions - ESX 3.5

VMware Converter Standalone
Is not designed as a backup solution, but could be used also for this purpose.

File copy solutions
For a powered off VM is possible to simple copy all the files in the VM folder.
To use also with a powered on VM you need to do create a VMware snapshot to unlock the *-flat.vmdk files
To make this copy several tools could be used:

VMware solutions (need license)

VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB)
VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB)

Note that next product version will not include VCB anymore

VMware Data Recovery (VDR)

VMware Data Recovery (VDR) as a backup solution

This solution could be fine for small environment... But has some limits.

Other commercial solutions

Veeam Backup & Replication

Veeam Backup 5.x

Veeam Backup 4.x
Veeam Backup & Replication 4 offers a major breakthrough in full and  incremental backup speeds. Using technological advancements within  VMware vSphere 4 and the VMware vStorage APIs for data protection, Veeam  customers experienced the following benefits derived from native  support of thin provisioned disks and changed block tracking

Veeam Backup 3.x
Veeam Backup & Replication is the first enterprise-ready solution  that combines backup and replication in a single product for fast  recovery of your VMware ESX servers. Backup is easy, but recovery can be  hard – and that’s when the clock is ticking loudest. But with Veeam  Backup & Replication, fast recovery is easier than you ever thought  possible.

Quest (Vizioncore) vRanger Pro

vRanger Pro 4 Data Protection Platform
vRanger Pro Data Protection Platform (DPP) is a comprehensive backup and  recovery solution for virtual infrastructures that complements existing  data protection strategies to reduce the backup window with minimal  impact on IT resources. With vRanger Pro, administrators can ensure all  virtual assets are properly backed up on a regular basis and that  "computing ready" virtual environments can be restored and populated  with recovered data as quickly as possible. With faster VM recovery  organizations can minimize costly outages to applications and business  services.

vRanger Pro 3.3
Vizioncre vRanger Pro 3.3 is the ideal solution for customers wanting  the same reliability of vRanger Pro 4.0 DPP but require features that  are not yet supported in the 4.0 version. Supports VMware 3.X, 4.0  (vSphere) and ESXi.

Trilead VM Explorer
Trilead VM Explorer is a management tool that eases management, backup  and disaster recovery tasks in your VMware ESX environment. Backups can  be stored to ESX, Windows, Linux and FreeBSD based storage platforms or  directly to a SAN. VM Explorer has only to be licenced once for your  infrastructure, you don't have to pay any fees per ESX Server, CPU, or  anything similar.

PHD Virtual esXpress
esXpress  radically alters the notion of how to protect data in virtual   infrastructures in one simple way: we use the virtual infrastructure to   backup and restore itself!
esXpress v3.6 is Compatible with VMware ESX v3, v3.5 and vSphere4.

PHD Virtual in the current  5.x  product now supports ESXi and you can backup to network storage  (CIFS/NFS)  as well as local attached disk.


Another good option. vBackup's Standard Edition is free and should provide all of the functionality needed in small environments.

The free ESXi "problem"

With the free version of ESXi then you cannot actually use a third party  tool to perform any backups. This is against your EULA. If it is the  paid version of ESXi go for it.
So be sure which you are using to be sure you do not violate the EULA.

As for other mechanisms, you can snapshot the VM and then copy the data  via the vSphere Client/VIC as well. There is also VMware Converter.  These tools do not violate the EULA.

See also: - VMware Forcing Third Parties to NOT Sell Products for Free ESXi

Storage based solutions

If you have a stora NFS base, then file copy could be simple...
For other shared storage you can use storage snapshots.

Backup ESXi configuration

You can use the RCLI to make a backup configuration of your ESXi host using
You can find more information for the RCLI documentation here:

There are also other ways to do a backup of ESXi configuration, see:

Tags (3)

Nice collection of backup tools. I have posted a reference to this a couple of times.


Thanks, I'm glad that it is useful Smiley Wink

Great reference, though started to get out of date. You might want to start updating it as many people still hit this page for resources. Veeam has released v6 a while back and PHD Virtual has just released v6.1. Maybe you can as well have the following comparison between the two between your references:



vmware replication is now free in v5.1 under most licences.

I have linked a short howto video to help people get acquainted with vmware replication

At VMWorld 2013,  Unitrends announced a free edition of its Unitrends Enterprise Backup software for up to four virtual machines that runs on the unlicensed -- free-- version of VMware vSphere Hypervisor.

Solution Highlights

  • Unitrends Enterprise Backup can be deployed as a virtual appliance upon the entire family of VMware ESX, ESXi and now ESXi Free
  • Seamless and granular support at both the virtual host level and guest level for operating systems and applications with respect to backup, archiving, and replication.
  • Fully functioning enterprise solution that includes automated scheduling, global deduplication, archiving, and much more.

You can download the free edition here:

Hi AndreTheGiant, thank you for the great summary!

I just wanted to mention that Veeam released a free edition of its backup solution called Veeam Backup Free Edition. Could you please put it on your list?

Veeam Backup Free Edition provides a subset of the functionality of the paid version enough for day-to-day VM management. It's built for virtualization and fully supports VMware.

With Veeam Backup Free Edition you can:

  • Create add-hoc backups of a live VM.
  • Migrate a live VMware VM to any host or datastore, even if vMotion and vStorage Motion aren't available.
  • Clone, copy, export and manage your VMs. Look inside the VM and restore individual items.

It's important that Veeam Backup Free Edition is completely free and has no limitations on the number of VMs and no expiration date. The minimum required VMware licensing is vSphere Essentials (with the unlocked vStorage APIs for Data Protection).

You can download Veeam Backup Free Edition for VMware here:

Please let me know if any questions will appear.


Veeam Community Manager

Kudos to this great work!!!

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