Using VM attributes to quickly determine status of VM backups

One of the cool features of Veeam Backup & Replication v5 is its ability to document the status of the virtual machine backup within the virtual machine’s annotations by using attributes. This is one of the many notification options for an individual job, which may contain one or more virtual machines. Other notification options are also available, including email and SNMP.

The VM Notes option is a nice little addition to the quick visibility that you can get in the vSphere Client. Each virtual machine will have an attribute added with the backup server name, job name, last iteration time and file name of the backup job. This is defined in the advanced settings of a job within Veeam Backup & Replication, as shown in the figure below:


Once the job completes, the custom attribute is added to the virtual machine as configured in the job. This is very handy if there a large number of Veeam Backup & Replication servers installed or a large number of jobs as we can look directly at a virtual machine and get the status of the job. From the example job above, the status is updated on the virtual machine as shown below:


There are two takeaways for using this notification method. The first is that using a virtual machine attribute is better than using a note. If a system-generated event, such as a backup job, changed the notes for every virtual machine; there may be issues with any user-entered notes (like those that come with virtual appliances). The attributes, however are a unique field that are specific for (in this case) the Veeam Backup job.

It is also important to point out that the attribute displayed is the last successful backup job, listed by timestamp. Should there be an unsuccessful attempt to back up an individual job; the timestamp from the last successful job will remain. Further, additional notification options such as the email message option will explicitly note that the job failed.

This can benefit virtualization administrators in a number of ways. The most prominent is that using the attributes are an easy way to ensure that new virtual machines are being backed up. It also is a good way to monitor the timing of different jobs and their completion times. In both cases, this can save a trip back to the Veeam Backup & Replication server to check within the application.

What tricks have you used with virtual machine attributes and notes? Share your comments below.

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  • randyjcress says:

    We are utilizing a SQL query to pull this attribute data from the vCenter db and parse the timestamp to report a true/false for individual vm backups being performed on a routine basis with our NMS. It would be great to see another Veeam attribute field created specifically for the last backup timestamp instead of the full string in a single attribute as it is currently.

  • Rick.Vanover says:

    Randy – great feedback. I’ll pass it along internally.

  • Rick Vanover says:

    Randy – one more note, you can use Veeam Reporter to report on the attributes and send this automatically. Have you checked out Veeam Reporter?

  • Jeff Couch says:

    Randy – I like your idea as well. Its much easier to parse out individual attributes in a powershell script than spiltting a string into someting usable.

    Randy – Another feature request for attributes. It would be great to see the ability to schedule jobs based on attributes set in vsphere. For instance, if your clusters are so large (500 + VMs) how to you logically break that out into different virtual backup nodes? Folders? that doesnt really work for us since we are using folders to group for permissions, not backup sets. I think by using attributes, it would make it much easier to identify backup groups from the vi client.

    Ive been pondering a powershell script to do just this. Where I would run a daily check for any vms that had the matching attribute value for each backup job, then add the vm to the backup job.

    Im in a Veeam POC right now, but see the inability to load balance and/or manage jobs from a higer level (enterprise manager) than at the individual backup node as a bummer. I hope its someting that is coming in future releases.


  • Rick.Vanover says:

    Jeff: for large clusters, there are a number of approaches:

    -back up by datastore
    -back up by folder (which you identified)
    -back up by OS/application type VM string
    -backup by resource pool
    -back up by name string

    Further, you can add multiple Veeam Backup Servers (as I believe you are aware).

  • Using Custom attributes for the Veeam backup job can be beneficial in many ways, and I’ll throw Veeam’s FREE Business View into the conversation. Business View can import and create Categories and Groups of VMs based on a existing custom attributes or it can dynamically create new ones. So, imagine being able to analyze your infrastructure by the new attributes that Veeam Backup creates (by job name for example). Better yet, WHAT IF a Veeam backup job could be created from a Business View Category and it’s Groups, or from any existing custom attributes the customer had already created? The point is that possibilities are there not just for backups but for monitoring and reporting too!

  • Josh A says:

    Agreed. PowerCLI is a great way to quickly gather custom attribute data. Is it possible to adjust the output that is placed in the Notes after a successful backup? I see that you can modify it for the email notification so it’s definitely variable aware.

  • Rick.Vanover says:

    @Josh: I don’t think the interface allows for much more than what is listed in the wizard.


    If you wanted, you could probably run PowerCLI scripts to do more with it; but I’d recommend against that.

    You may want to drop a discussion in the Veeam Forum for a product request. Mr. Gostev lurks there quite frequently. You could give him a good idea of what you think would work and he could shed light on it.

    Thanks everyone for commenting!

  • Rod says:


    We had a post on this last year on using PowerCLI with Attributes set by Veeam, in case someone wants a PowerCLI example reading this post:

  • Rick.Vanover says:

    @Rod: Awesome – thanks for sharing.

  • Patrick says:

    Thanks for the tip.

    But i would rather recommend you just call the note “Veeam” or something. Because else you are going to get lots of empty notes on every single VM in your farm.

  • kefoster says:

    How does notifications change in the Web GUI?

  • Jason says:

    Can you leverage annotations to add VMWare VM’s to backup jobs?

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