This article focuses on some free backup solutions for VMware vSphere as VMware’s home-brewed vSphere Data Protection is End-of-Life and will not support any releases after vSphere 6.5.
There’s not much free stuff out there if you’d ask me. It totally depends on what you need and how much you are willing to sacrifice in order to keep things free, or at least nearly free.
When looking at vSphere Data Protection, it actually isn’t free as you need a paid vSphere license to even get to the point where you could run VDP. But let’s assume you’ve got all of that sorted. The products mentioned in this article do not work with the free edition of ESXi (limitation of backup API’s).
If you are looking for a solution to backup your test environment, homelab or non-production environment, there are many solutions out there in the form of a NFR license (of which I am a heavy user) or demo license.
The differentiator in choosing the right solution is based on your requirements. Let’s say you really need file-level recovery, deduplication and tape support. This totally filters out many solutions, and probably most free ones as well.
Make a list of your requirements, and do some research based on my list of backup solutions below to see what modern features are offered nowadays which you would want in your solution.
There’s so many different backup solutions to choose from! I’ve set up a small list of backup solutions which I’ve come across online.
I’ve had a lot of experience with Veeam B&R and have always liked the product. Veeam support is outstanding and their product release cycles are very short, so many updates. I also think their feature set is unique compared to other solutions.
There is a free version which you can use and there’s a paid license. The difference between these editions can be found here.
Storage Integrated Backups
I’ve come across “Storage Integrated Backups” for the first time with SimpliVity hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solutions. It basically means you get the backup included inside your infrastructure.
The backup options are fairly slim, but it does it’s job! And it’s very, very efficient as backups are made on storage block level. A restore simply mounts the virtual disk as virtual CD/DVD drive from a certain point-in-time where you can copy your files off.
I’m fairly sure other HCI solutions offer similar backup options, but at least you know the options are there and it’s probably included (free).
No experience with this one, but looks very promising. And they offer free VM backup with basic features. The difference between free and paid can be found here.
With Nakivo Free edition you can backup only 2 VMs. But if that’s the only thing you need, why not?
More information about the free edition and features can be found here.
This offering supports 2 VMs with all functionality. If you want to protect more VMs, you need to switch to a paid edition.
More information can be found here.
There’s many, many options. My list here is only a small piece of what’s available. My advice to you would be to try out several backup solutions, see which one feels best and offers the right features.
Choosing the right backup solution for your environment is one of the most important things to do.
Of course, while you are still running vSphere 6.5, you can still make use of vSphere Data Protection. But I guess it’s a good idea to start looking around before you are forced to switch.
As mentioned before, test environments, homelabs and non-production infrastructures could benefit from a NFR (Not For Resale) license. If you are amongst the VMware vExperts or Microsoft MVP’s, you could easily get a NFR key to get started with.
I’ll be writing an article about a cloud-based backup which I’ve been testing in my own lab, which will be very interesting for a lot of people.