When we talk about cloud backup, the question which arises is that, are the users sticking with old-school agents or have they embraced virtual machine snapshots. With the changing in technology, conventional methods are becoming redundant but their efficiency cannot be questioned till we dive deep into knowing the methods.

Most of the virtualization administrators, either use a snapshot-based backup solution or a traditional agent-based solution carried over from physical systems. The reason for the prevalence of agent-based solution is neither virtualization software developer, nor third-party vendors who have rushed in, to provide a better option. There are alternative backup solutions, but those solutions rely on built-in technology (snapshots) and don’t, as yet, offer a feasible replacement for traditional backup.

Although each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, the system administrator has more options and few restrictions when they are selecting backup solution and strategies. But backup solutions do not stand alone, most of the backup solutions require additional software and hardware which is inexpensive and time-consuming to deploy. Another question which arises about restoration is that, does the backup solution lend itself to easy file-level restoration or is the solution an all VM replacement?

Additionally, can an administrator select individual files for backup while preserving permissions?vm backup

VM Backup and Recovery by using Snapshots

In this method of VM backup and recovery using snapshots, system administrators use snapshots as a method of preserving, a VM’s state prior to perform an application installation, upgrading supporting drivers, adding or removing a piece of virtual hardware or performing some risky operations on business-critical systems.

Taking snapshot allows users to keep a copy of the last known stable VM configuration, if needed can replace the broken VM in a matter of seconds. The snapshot replaces the tainted VM and picks up where it left off at the time when the snapshot was taken.

There are some disadvantages of using snapshot and snapshot-based backups. One is that you cannot use snapshots to backup Raw Disk Mapping (RDM) volumes and another is that it is complicated to retrieve individual files from a snapshot easily. So, the concept of snapshot is a simple one. The snapshot simplicity has led to the creation of snap-shot based backup solutions such as VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) and Veeam Backup and Replication.

Stonefly DR365V is purpose-built optimized with integrated hyper converged Enterprise Veeam Backup, Replication and disaster recovery appliance. The backup engine automatically creates backup images of physical servers. The images can also be restored to the same hardware or can be attached as a drive to retrieve an earlier copy of a definite file, folder, etc. Every backup is also automatically converted into a Virtual Machine. This feature is pretty beneficial for business continuity for your production environment if a physical server or workstation goes down.

What is VMware Consolidated Backup?

VMware Consolidated Backup is a set of command-line utilities and APIs that administrators use for backup. The original purpose is to give third-party vendors an opportunity to create a graphical backup and restore tool for VMware guests.

VCB provides full VM backups and file-level backups for a virtual machine. However, file-level backup is only available for windows guests. Full VM backups use a sparse disk file format for backup, so that backup don’t include free space and therefore valuable storage isn’t wasted.

Veeam Backup and Replication

Veeam’s backup and replication (VBR) product takes advantage of VMware’s VCB APIs. VBR’s graphical interface makes it easy to create full VM backups and retrieve individual files from the snapshot. However, since Veeam backup and replication uses VCB which is snapshot-based, thus it cannot back up virtual machines that use raw disk mappings. DR365V for Veeam also contains snapshot, one-pane management, SSL-encryption, level-1 data deduplication at the source, compression, and much more.

veeam vm backup

Advantages of Snapshot-based backups

Following are the advantages of Snapshot-based backups

  • Centralized backups for virtual machine
  • Agentless
  • Full VM and file-level backups
  • No VM shutdown required
  • Non-LAN backups and reduced load on ESX hosts

Disadvantages of snapshot-based backups

  • Cannot backup VMs that use RDMs
  • Command line interface is difficult to use
  • Single file restoration can be difficult
  • Users must have to purchase third-party solution for graphical tools
  • File-level backup and restore is only available for Windows guests

VM Backup and Recovery by using Agents

VM backup and recovery by using agents involves installing an agent on each system and connecting that agent to a centralized backup system. Then comes the part of configuring the backup strategy and allowing the backup process to run.

For file-level backup and restore there is no better solution than an agent-based solution. They are expensive because of the licensing, plus the requirements to install and run an agent on every VM, but the level of granularity is incomparable at the individual file level.

Part of this method expense is the need to use a separate or segmented network for backup and restore activities. You don’t want your network bandwidth to be used by backup and restore file transfers, which can take hours and use maximum network throughput. Agent-based backups also increase the performance on the VM and ultimately on the ESX host system.

Advantages of Agent-based Backups

  • Mature and industry standard technology
  • Consistent backup strategy for physical machines and virtual machines
  • Rapid restore
  • No learning curve for administrators

Disadvantages of Agent-based backups

  • Expensive
  • Network-based backup can take a long time
  • Performance hit during backups on the ESX host
  • Impossible to backup an entire VM as a VM


So, there is no correct answer for which backup is best for a particular environment as backups are often an environment’s weakest support link. Both the backup techniques can be employed for resolving different problems. StoneFly provides both the backup solutions to the clients to fulfill their backup requirements; provided to the customers in the form cloud backup services. StoneFly DR365V Veeam backup and replicaion appliance provides you with a total backup solution for all of your physical and virtual servers and workstations in a single box.  The backup engine automatically makes backup images of physical servers. Every backup is also automatically converted into a Virtual Machine. DR365V for Veeam also contains snapshot, one-pane management, SSL-encryption, level-1 data deduplication at the source, compression, and much more.

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