Some techy stuff and occasional verbose ramblings :D

Windows and Powershell

Backup your HyperV virtual machines with style and win a Nexus 7 tablet

Yeah yeah,  I know you can do snapshots using HyperV,but…snapshots suck! Why? Machine performance degrades with every snapshot you add and snapshots ARE NOT backups!!! Dont make me start talking about the time when you need to turn off that machine; does “Merging…” sound familiar? Yeah, I hate Merging too!

Recently I was given a chance to test the new beta version of Altaro Hyper-V backup.  I downloaded the BETA 1 version and installed it on one of my HyperV machines.

Installation was pretty straight forward and I am sure that anyone can do it! It basically consists of typical “Next”, “Next” and “Finish” steps.

New features, compared to the old version ( more details about the old version can be seen here) are:

–  Windows Server 2012 Support, including support for VHDX files.
–  Windows 2012: support for backup and restore of VMs located on network paths.
–  Windows 2012: support for Volume Shadow Copies of SMB3.0 network paths.
–  Windows 2012: support for CSV3.0 and scale-out CSV file shares.
–  New and improved Metro-Style Interface ( maybe we need to call it “Windows 8 style UI” )

Among the new stuff, there was room for some other fixes and improvements:

– Link to error reporter from Management Console.
– Extra verification checks in Reverse Delta algorithm.
– Improved free-space calculation (Backup no longer checks for full size of VM in free  space).
–  Many more improvements and bug fixes under the hood.

After starting the software we are greeted with a slick dashboard that provides almost all neccesary information you need to know about your backups. List of most latest backups, Restore history, Error log, and a graph showing your disk space usage.


For me, most amazing features that I need to point out are:

Restore Clones – restore VMs to the same Hyper-V Host but with a different name.
Restore to different Hyper-V host
File Level Restore ( one of my favourite features! )
Mount backed up VHDs & restore files without having to restore a whole VM.
Back up crash consistent Linux VMs without shutting down the machine.
FireDrill Restore Tests ( safety first!)

Altaro Hyper-V backup comes in three editions: a free edition that can backup two virtual machines,  standard edition that supports five virtual machines and unlocks some of advanced features, and an ultimate edition that protects an unlimited number of virtual machines on a host and adds centralized support for a cluster.

I must admit that I had some skepticism in the beginning ( I think all sys-admins are sceptics by design 🙂  ), so I scheduled every possible notification to be sent to my email address.  After a week or so, I turned off all notifications beside the one that sends an email if a backup fails. WHY? Lets me put it this way: Fire and forget!This thing just works!

Even though Altaro is a relatively young company (  founded in 2009 ), list od their clients is pretty impressive (over 8000 of them!):  University of Harvard, New Zealand Defence Force, Mitsubishi Polyester Film, Swedish Defence Research Agency and many, many others.

At the moment of writing this post, I have the software running for 2 months now and there was no single glitch at all! I wish I could say that for other software we normally use…I cant say its name, but it starts with “R1” and ends with “Soft” 🙂

Another thing that impressed me is the speed that the backups are being made! Initial replica of 30,22 GB  virtual machine took only 24 minutes! I didnt get that speed with any other backup solutions!

Enough talk, lets see this thing in action, shall we!?

Like I said, the speed of backup is amazing! 4 minutes for 700 MB of data!

As a system administrator, there are some features that I would like to have in next version:
– web based interface where users can restore their VM on their own ( without bothering the system administrator )
– multiple user roles ( Administrator, operator and user )
– backups of physical machines ( I know the software is called HYPER-V backup, but adding this new feature could really transform it in the perfect backup solution for Windows )
– integration with Websitepanel or some other control panel ( primary for File Level restore )

With those aditions, I would seriously consider ditching our existing backup solution and replacing it with Altaro Hyper-V backup.

Altaro are also giving away two free Nexus 7’s to testers of their Hyper-V backup for Win 2012 beta. Check out all the details here.

Final verdict : 9/10 ( I got annoyed by the popup screen when you click on an option that isn’t avaiable in the currently registered version 😛 )

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