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Altaro VM Backup Review

Are the most important tasks Backup and Restore for every IT?If Backups aren't design with the right way can be catastrophic for the company. Every IT must give more attention to  design Backup Strategy and check it periodically if are healthy.

Today you can find lot of Backup Softwares in the market for small,midsize and enterprise companies. One of the Backup Softwares that choose to test is the Altaro VM Backup. I have hear good reviews from other IT Pro so i decide it to test and find how it's working.

So Let's start to explore Altaro VM Backup and find what can do.

Introduction

Today most or all Servers are Virtual. In most cases use only Physical Servers as HYPERVISORS for your Virtual Servers. You need a good solution for your Backup and Restores of the Virtual Servers. One of the available backup solutions in the Market is Altaro VM Backup.  Altaro can use it to backup Virtual Machines from HYPERV , VMWARE and one of the features that i like it is that can use it with HYPER-V and VMWARE IN Mixed Environment. 

If your company is small you don't need to pay for a Backup Solution Altaro VM Backup has a Free Edition that can backup up to 2VM's per Host. It's very interesting, cost effective and you can download it from 

http://www.altaro.com/vm-backup/download.php.

System Requirements

Before proceed with the installation of Altaro VM Backup must be check the System Requirements for the Hypervisors.

Microsoft Hyper-V:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (core installation)
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 (core installation)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 (core installation)

 VMware:

  • vSphere: 5.0 / 5.1 / 5.5 / 6.0
  • vCenter: 5.0 / 5.1 / 5.5 / 6.0
  • ESXi: 5.0 / 5.1 / 5.5 / 6.0

Altaro VM Backup:

  • 1 GB RAM
  • 1 GB Hard Disk Space (for Altaro VM Backup Program and Settings) + 5 GB (for temporary files created during backup operations)

Altaro Hyper-V Host Agent:

  • 500 MB RAM

Altaro Offsite Server:

  • Minimum of i5 (or equivalent) processor
  • 75 MB RAM + an additional 75MB for each concurrent backup/restore. 
  • For example if running 3 concurrent backups then minimum requirement is 75MB (base) + 75MB + 75MB + 75MB = Total 300 MB RAM

 

Installation

Altaro VM Backup installation it's very simple and quick without need advance knowledge to proceed. Most important is to decide where must be install the Altaro VM Backup. 

Le's take a look in the installation process.

  • Check the I accept terms ...... and click Next.

  • Click Next to install the Altaro in Default Location

  • Click Install to start the Installation.

  • Wait until Finish and click Finish to Launch the Management Console.

  • When open then Management console the First Impression is a nice and friendly Dashboard. Because the Altaro open for first time the Dashboard is empty so i will explain with more details after take some backups.

  • The installation of Altaro VM Backup create few services in the Server.These are:
    Altaro Offsite Server = Altaro Offsite Server for Offsite Copies.
    Altaro VM Backup API Service = Enables an RESTful API interface to Altaro VM Backup.
    Altaro VM Backup Controller = Provides an interface between the Management Console UI and the Altaro VM Backup Service.
    Altaro VM Backup Engine = Management of backup schedules and configuration.
    Altaro VM Backup HYPER-V Host Agent = Facilitates backup and restore operations for Virtual machines on a Hyper-V Host.

 

Prepare to Backup Virtual Machines

Host Installation

After finish the installation it's time to prepare Altaro to take Backups of your Virtual Machines. Altaro need to install an Agent in every Host that you want to take backups of Virtual Machines.

 As i said before the User Interface it's very friendly and help a lot to do the tasks that must be complete faster. Before start i would like to inform that for the specific Scenario.

 i will use HYPER-V Hosts. But you can use it for HYPER-V,VMWARE or MixEnviroment.

So Let's start

  • Click in Hosts.
  • From the right side click Add Hosts.

  • Select the type of your Hypervisors and click Next.

  • Fill all the details to connect in the HYPERVISORS and you can test the Connection before proceed with the Next Step. So Click Test Connection or Next to start the installation.

  • After few minutes if you don't have any errors  will inform you that the Agents setup successfully in the  Hosts. Click Next

  • As you can see has return in Main Screen with Hosts and lot of details.
    You can see the number of Virtual Machines that include in the Host, the Status of the Agent that installed in the Host, The status of the License.
  • You can click in Discovery Virtual Machines to refresh the number of Virtual Machines in case of add,delete or move  new Virtual Machines
  • If you have purchase Altaro you can click in 30 days License and add the License to Activated. Now i will add my Keys to Activate the Licenses.

 

Configure Backup Location

After setup successful the Hosts we must configure Backup Location to take the Backups.

  • Click in Backup Locations from the left side.
  • Click in Add Backup Location Button.

  • Select the type of Backup Location. Between Network Path and Physical Drive. For our purposes will select Network Path which means NAS or any other network location. Click Next.

  • Type all the details base on your selection. Click the Test Connection to verify the connectivity. Click Next.

  • Now you can see the Backup Location. As it says you can Drag & Drop the Virtual Machines to add in Backup Location. Very Cool and easy.
  • After add Virtual Machines in Backup Location you can see that in Infrastructure all the Virtual Machines has green color. 

 

That's it. You can continue to see how can schedule the Backup Tasks.

Schedule the Backups

You don't want to run manually the Backup for all the Virtual Machines. So it's time to schedule our Backups.

  • Click in Schedules from the left Side.
  • The User Interface it's similar with Backup Location. First of all you must have decide what hours you want to run the Backups Taks.
  • When decide the hours click in Add Backup Schedule.

  • Here we must configure how schedule will run. First we have the Option to select between Weekly and Monthly. After that we must set the time and which of the days to run the Backup Task. Last you can set the days that can run the Offsite backup that i will explain it later. When finish click Save and you can see the new Time in blue color.

  • Do the same step base on the Schedule Tasks that you have Plan 
  • When you finish with the Schedules drag & drop the Virtual Machine in the hour that you want to run the Backup. So simple !!!. Do the same for all the Virtual Machines. If you want you can add more than one Virtual Machines at the same time. But don't do it for large Virtual Machines. It will takes more than usual finish the Backups

 

Retention Policy for the Backups

It's recommended and must have Retention Policy for the Backups in your company.  Alta VM Backup can give you this option. Before start to create Retention Policies for your Backups you must already decide which  will be the Retention Policy.

Let's tae a look what we can do here.

  • Click in Retention Policies from the left Side.
  • By default if you don't have configure any Retention Policy all your Virtual Machines add in 2 Weeks Retention Policy. This means that you can go back in backups for 2 weeks.
  • If you want to create a new Retention Policy just click Add New.

  • Add the number of days that you want . Click Save Changes.

  • Drag & Drop the Virtual Machines that you want to apply the specific Retention Policy.

So easy and so fast we have apply Retention Policy for our Backups.

Configure Email Notifications

Last step to complete the configuration for the Backups of the Virtual Machines  is to set Email Notifications. With this way you can monitoring your Tasks daily if completed successful or not without need to login every day in the Server. Altaro VM Backup give you this option with the simplest way.

  • Click in Notifications from the left side
  • As you can see you have 3 options to check. I will check the first 2 which include Notifications for Successful and Failed Backups. I don't want to take emails for Restoration Taks.
  • Configure the Email Settings and Send Test Email to verify that you can receive Email from Altaro VM Backup.

 

Master Encryption Key

If you are love security Altaro VM Backup give you the option to use an Encryption Key in your Backups. So in case of stolen your Backups or any other scenario nobody can restore it if doesn't has The Encryption Key.

Let's explain it how can use this feature. But before proceed you must know that if you already start the Backups and add after the Master Encryption Key then the Backup must start from the scratch. As you will see in the example.

  • Click in Mater Encryption Keys from the left side.
  • Click in Click here to change it.

  • Type your key that you want to add.Click Save Changes.

  • Now go in Advance Settings from the left side
  • In the Encryption column check where you want to to have the Encryption. Of cource you can select all your Virtual Machine. Click Save Changes.

  • Be careful if you are in production environment because after that all the Backup will start from scratch.

 

My First Impression of the Configuration for the Backups is very good. Today every IT Pro need simple solutions and quick results. Altaro VM Backup can cover this requirements for every IT Pro in small and middle size companies.

Now it's time to leave it and run the Schedule Tasks to see the Results.

 

Take Backup Manual

Anytime you can Take Backup Manual for the Specific or Multiple Virtual Machines without need to wait until start the Schedule Task. Lot of times need to take a backup manual and restore it for test purposes. 

Let's take a look

  • Select Take Backup from the Left Side.
  • Check the Virtual Machine that you want to take backup manual. Click Take Backup.

  • Go in the Dashboard to check the Progress.

Restore

When you decide to choose a Backup Software you must have check also and the Restore Process. Restore is very important and must be sure that can works at any time. So let's take a look what can do Altaro VM Backup with the Restore.

Restore Virtual Machines

  • Click in Restore from the left side
  • Check the Backup Location to proceed. Click Next.

  • Select the Virtual Machine that you want to restore it.Click Next.

  • Here read careful all the options that you have,
    Restore the Version backed up on = If you have Retention Policy then you will have multiple backups base on the dates. Select from when you want to restore the backup
    Restore as = The Virtual Server Name that you want to restore it
    Restore to Host = The Host that you would like to restore
    Restore to Location = The path to restore the VM. Be careful here to select the appropriate path base on your HOST.
  • Check the Disable Network Card if you don't want to be online when the Virtual Machine Restore. Click Restore.

  • Click in Go to Dashboard Monitor Progress.

  • Check the Progress of the Restore.

File Level Restore

This is an option that can't be missing out from Altaro VM Backup. Lot of times requested to restore files from FileServer or any other Server. You can proceed with few steps to complete the File Level Restore

  • Select from Granual Restore the File Level Restore from Left Side.
  • Check the Backup Location to proceed. Click Next.

  • Select the Virtual Machine that you want to restore it.Click Next.

  • Choose the date of Backup that you want to Restore.

  • Click in Virtual Disk and select the avhdx file.

  • Click in Partition to Select the Partition that you want. Maybe here will be better if has the Letter of the Partition for better understanding.

  • After that you can see all the files from the specific Partition and you can proceed to Restore any file or folder that you want.
  • Check in the File or Folder that you want to Restore and click Next.

  • Select if you must Restore in Local Directory or Network Path and where must be Extract.Click Extract.

  • Wait until finish.

  • Go in the folder that have choose to extract and find the files.

My Impression for Restore Process is more than good. Quick easy and with lot of options. You can Clone your VM without need to overwrite the production VM, Restore Files, Exchange Server emails and all these features in a clean User Interface. 

Test & Verify your Backups

One very useful feature that has Altaro VM Backup is the ability to check if your Backups are good without affect the Live Virtual Machines. It's very important to know that your Backups are healthy and you will have at any time.

Let's take a look how can use Sandbox to Test and Verify health of Backups.

  • Select Test & Verify Backups.
  • You have 2 options.
    Verify Backup Folders =  Check the data store on the backup drive
    Perform a Full Test Restore = Check specific Virtual Machine Backup.
  • This is your choice. But for our purposes we will proceed with the 2nd option.
  • Select Perform a Full Test Restore  and click Next

  • Check the Backup Location to proceed. Click Next.

  • Select the Virtual Machine that you want to test it.Click Next.

  • Here read careful all the options that you have,
  • Restore the Version backed up on = If you have Retention Policy then you will have multiple backups base on the dates. Select from when you want to restore the backup
  • Restore as = The Virtual Server Name that you want to restore it
  • Restore to Host = The Host that you would like to restore
  • Restore to Location = The path to restore the VM. Be careful here to select the appropriate path base on your HOST.
  • Click Perform Test Restore.

  • Click Go to Dashboard to monitor progress.
  • Monitor the progress and Wait for the Results.

  • When finish you wlll get a popup in the top of the Altaro VM Backup as Notification which explain if complete successful or not and which is the reason who failed.

Reports

Another one useful feature for every IT Pro is the Reports. Altaro VM Backup can give us Operation History Reports or only Error History Reports. The most important is that you can find all Reports from the time to start using it.

 Very useful feature for any IT Pro that want to determine Errors or keep logs for Audits.

 

Today you can find lot of Backup Applications for HYPER-V or VMWARE in the market But  Altaro VM Backup can differentiate it from other softwares for the very friendly User Interface. Many usefull features that can activate with a simple click. 

These aren't only the features that has Altaro. I try to explain the most important with detail explanation for everyone. Altaro VM Backup has lot of Features yet like Offsite Backup , Exchange Item Level Restore and more that i promise depth explanation in my next article.

I hope to find interesting and help you in any decision related with Backups.

Have a nice weekend !

 

 

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