Last year, we wrote about a free tool for backing up virtual machines (VMs) in VMware and Hyper-V environments – Veeam Backup Free Edition. Veeam recently released v7, an updated version that delivers important new features and capabilities. In this article, I’ll point out some powerful features you’ll find in the new version of Veeam Backup Free Edition.
When I wrote the Infographic, Veeam Backup & Replication v7: By the Numbers; I made a distinct effort to ensure that Backup Free Edition was well represented. In fact, I counted 12 powerful features by Backup Free Edition:
- VeeamZIP Backup
- Veeam Explorer for Exchange
- Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots
- Veeam Explorer for SharePoint
- Quick Migration for VMware
- File Copy Job
- VM Copy Job
- FastSCP Editor
- Native tape support
- File level recovery from backup
- Whole VM recovery from backup
- VM file recovery from backup (VMX, VHD, VMDK, etc.)
While those features are a good quick list of what Veeam Free Edition can do, let’s dive into some of the most popular features. Veeam Backup Free Edition can be summarized in these three powerful categories:
- VeeamZIP – Creates an ad-hoc backup of a running VM, which gives you many benefits such as being able to easily copy a backup to another host without having to power off the original VM
- Powerful and flexible restores – Supports a number of recovery scenarios, including recovery of an entire VM, guest OS files and individual application items
- Quick Migration (VMware) – Migrates a live VM between hosts or datastores with minimal downtime and without requiring clusters, shared storage, or even VMware vMotion or Storage vMotion
VeeamZIP delivers technology that lets you create backups of running VMs. With VeeamZIP, you have to specify only two things – the VM you want to backup and where your resulting backup file will go. It’s that easy! The backup will be deduplicated (within the single VM being backed up) and compressed, resulting in significantly lower backup storage requirements. Many people ask what benefit this will provide in terms of disk space when only a single VM is involved, when I use VeeamZIP on a single VM; the disk savings are usually about half that of the VM’s actual usage on disk. The figure below shows a VeeamZIP ad-hoc backup being started:
Figure 1: Easy VM backups with VeeamZIP
VeeamZIP is helpful when:
- You need to update a VM. Users frequently take a VeeamZIP backup before making any changes to a VM, such as before applying updates or patches.
- You need to archive a VM. It’s simple to create a deduplicated and compressed copy of a VM before removing it from your virtual infrastructure.
- You need to copy a VM to a remote host or test lab. VeeamZIP encapsulates VM configuration settings so you can easily transfer and run a VM in a different location.
VeeamZIP is also very efficient. The processing engine is fast, and optimizations include parallel processing of virtual disks, filtering out empty blocks, and more.
Powerful and flexible restores
Veeam Backup Free Edition supports several data recovery scenarios, beginning with recovery of a VM file and going all the way to restoring an entire VM. The list includes:
- Restoring VM files (.vmdk, .vmx and others for VMware; .vhd, .vhdx, .xml and others for Hyper-V). Veeam Backup Free restores VM files directly from deduplicated, compressed backups without having to extract the VM from the backup.
- Restoring an entire VM. You can restore an entire VM to the same location or to a new location.
- Restoring VM disks (VMware). If a VM disk becomes corrupted by an OS failure or some other cause, you can simply restore the affected VM disk and connect it to the original or recovered VM.
- Restoring guest OS files. You can restore guest OS files for Windows FAT and NTFS file systems, and also ReFS with OS-level deduplication when running Windows Server 2012. Moreover, a special wizard and a virtual helper appliance provide support for 17 additional file systems. In all cases, Veeam Backup Free Edition is able to restore the guest files without having to extract the entire virtual disk image from the backup.
Figure 2: Restoring guest OS files with Veeam Backup Free Edition v7
Restoring individual Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint items. v7 makes easy work of restoring Exchange and SharePoint items from one agentless backups, even in the free edition.
Quick Migration (VMware)
Quick Migration lets you migrate live VMs between hosts or datastores without requiring clusters, shared storage or advanced functionality that is not available in lower-level hypervisor editions. Quick Migration works well even in environments with slow or high latency connections that prevent VMware vMotion and Hyper-V Live Migration from working!
Figure 3: Live VM migration with Veeam Quick Migration
Additional v7 Features
In addition to offering enhanced functionality for existing capabilities, v7 also introduces brand new features. Here are seven of my favorites:
1. Native tape support: Regardless of the fact that tapes are often considered an evil, they can be a necessary evil because many datacenters continue to actively use them for archived or offsite backups. And this is understandable – tapes are portable, and long-term storage is inexpensive.
So, in v7, Veeam Backup Free Edition delivers one of features most frequently requested by users: native tape support. With this new capability, you can store individual files and VM backups on standalone tape drives and tape libraries (physical or virtual).
Additionally, native tape support is an excellent replacement for NTBackup, which was discontinued with the release of Windows Server 2003. Veeam Backup Free Edition even supports the format of tapes written by NTBackup, meaning you can use it to restore files from archives created by NTBackup!
Figure 4: Native tape support in Veeam Backup Free Edition v7
2. Advanced support for VMware vCloud Director. v7 implements enhanced backup and recovery support for VMware vCloud Director (vCD). The metadata and attributes specific to vCD VMs are backed up, and you can restore VMs and vApps directly back to the original vCD location or to a new vCD location. And to ensure visibility, the vCD infrastructure is conveniently displayed in the management tree of the Veeam Backup Free Edition console.
Figure 5: Backing up vCloud Director VMs
3. Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint. Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint is a free tool built right into Veeam Backup Free Edition, making it easy for you to:
- Search for individual items inside backups of SharePoint VMs
- Recover items quickly and without agents
- Send restored items as email attachments to specific users
Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint recovers items without pulling the whole VM image into production storage, which saves you premium storage space. It also does not require installation of agents. Restores take only a few seconds and both VMware and Hyper-V VMs are supported.
The current version of Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint supports Microsoft SharePoint 2010, and full support for Microsoft SharePoint 2013 will be added very soon.
Figure 6: Restoring files from a backup of a Microsoft SharePoint VM
4. Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange. Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange is analogous to Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint, in that it provides quick and easy restore of items from backups of Microsoft Exchange VMs. You can search for individual Exchange items (emails, notes, tasks and so on), save mailbox items as .msg files and send recovered items as attachments via email.
As with Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint, Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange doesn’t require extraction of the entire VМ to production storage, and it offers quick restores for both VMware and Hyper-V. Veeam Backup Free Edition fully supports Microsoft Exchange 2010 and 2013.
Figure 7: Restoring of an email from the backup of a Microsoft Exchange VM
The following three features all improve the performance of VeeamZIP:
5. Parallel processing of virtual disks within VMs .Veeam Backup Free Edition v7 can simultaneously handle several virtual disks inside one VM. This improves VeeamZIP performance, especially for VMs with several large virtual disks. By working faster, VeeamZIP reduces the amount of time snapshots exist, which in turn reduces the time it takes to merge a snapshot with a VM after backup completes. As a bonus, this also reduces the workload on storage resources.
6. Ignoring empty blocks. In v7, VeeamZIP detects and does not backup empty blocks within virtual disks being backed up.
7. Hardware-accelerated compression. A new default compression algorithm in v7 lets VeeamZIP take into account available CPU resources on a backup server, enabling a “smarter” compression algorithm using SSE extensions. This significantly reduces the workload on backup proxies, and, as a result, reduces server usage up to 10 times compared to the previous default compression level. Many users have already informed us about the significant VeeamZIP performance improvements they’re seeing that are due to higher CPU availability.
The features and capabilities I’ve listed here are some of the most interesting additions in the new version of Veeam Backup Free Edition. You can find the full list of enhancements, including items available in the paid editions, here.
Have you given Veeam Backup Free Edition a look? I hope you have. If you have, share your comments below!
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