Altaro VM Backup first review

Altaro VM Backup first review

In this many times postponed blog post, I do an Altaro VM Backup first review. Will go through all the features that this Backup tool can offer to their costumers.

Previously I have talked about another product from Altaro Backup Office 365, now is the time to review their main product, VM Backup.

NOTE: Since I want to go through many features of the product Altaro VM Backup, I will divide this blog post into two parts. In this part, I will talk about the features and how to configure the backup tool. The second part will focus on the features and test them and do a detailed review.

Before we start the review, let us check the main features of Altaro VM Backup v8.17 (the latest build version is 8.17.6).

  • Support for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI

Altaro VM Backup enables customers to back up any VMs running on MS Azure Stack HCI for free until 30 June 2021. The free license is currently available with the Unlimited Plus, Subscription, and MSP Editions of the product and can be used both in production and testing environments. Check more about this feature and free license HERE.

  • Licenses

    Altaro now has two different types of licenses, perpetual(the same type that they have been used until now) or subscription.
    Perpetual license is licensed per Host, and a subscription is per licensed per VM.
    What is a subscription license? It’s a pay per VM per Month where you can pre-paid a license annually or a multi-year subscription.
    There are three types of perpetual licenses:
    • Standard Edition
    • Unlimited Edition
    • Unlimited Plus Edition

Please check HERE license type comparison. You can check HERE license calculator and simulate any license option that suits your environment and infrastructure.

  • Multiple offsite backup copies

    To provide a backup rule 3-2-1, Altaro provides the option to backup to multiple offsite backup copies. The 3-2-1 backup rule is a backup strategy using at least three (3) copies of your data and stores two (2) backup copies on different storage media and one (1) offsite.

With Altaro multiple office backup copies, administrators can store the fourth copy into an offsite location or a Cloud Storage like MS Azure, Amazon S3, and Wasabi.

With this feature, Altaro adds more options to your backup strategy and a more efficient Data Protection Strategy in case of a Disaster Recover scenario.

An example of how Altaro multiple office backup copies work with four copies of your backup.

A 3-2-1 Backup rule example:

Check more about this feature HERE.

  • Cloud backup to Azure, Amazon, and Wasabi

Altaro VM Backup now supports two more Cloud Storage backup services Amazon S3 and Wasabi, with full native integration with Altaro VM Backup. Previously only Azure was supported.

  • WAN-Optimized Replication

WAN-Optimized Replication permits a business to make an ongoing copy of its virtual machines (VMs) to a remote site and switch to that copy with immediacy should anything go wrong with the live VMs as damage due to hurricanes, fires, and flooding.

  • Support for Windows Server 2019

In this version was added Altaro VM Backup support to Windows Server 2019.

  • Continuous Data Protection (CDP)

Using Altaro VM Backup, administrators can now run daily backups with continuous data protection  (CDP). This feature improves and reduces the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) to up to 5 minutes. This means that when it is enabled, Altaro VM Backup will backup your VMs every 5 minutes. We know that the maximum RPO that we have in our VMs backup is 5 minutes using CDP.

Check more about Altaro VM Backup CDP HERE.

After we had a quick look at the main features, I will go through an initial quick install of Altaro VM Backup.

First, you can download your Altaro VM Backup trial copy HERE.

How to Install Altaro VM Backup

The install of the Altaro VM Backup is very straightforward and no need for any special configuration. Launch the setup and go through the process.

Altaro VM Backup first review

After installing the software, click the icon and add the Altaro VM Backup instance to Connection Manager.

With Connection Manager, you can control and manage all Altaro VM Backup instances in your organization.

Altaro VM Backup first review

After you have your Altaro VM Backup instance, you can now connect to it and manage your Altaro VM Backup.

Note: You need first to test the connection, and only then you can login. This needs to be done every time you want to connect to your backup instance.

Altaro VM Backup first review

How to configure Backup Infrastructure

After you enter your Altaro VM Backup, run the Quick Setup and start the configuration of your Backup Infrastructure.

For this test, I will add VMware vCenter v6.7 (with 3 ESXi hosts. ) and a Hyper-V Cluster 2016 (with 3 Hyper-V nodes).

First step – Add Hypervisor

Click the first step, Add Hyper-V / VMware Host, and then click the Hypervisor that you want to add. In this case, it was VMware vCenter.

Altaro VM Backup first review

After we had the vCenter details, Altaro VM Backup will import the ESXi hosts and VMs into the Backup Infrastructure.

Altaro VM Backup first review

Some steps for the Hyper-Cluster or just a Hyper-V Server.

Note: Add at least one Hyper-V node IP/FQN. If it belongs to a Hyper-V Cluster, it will import all Hyper-V nodes and their Virtual Machines.

Altaro VM Backup first review

Altaro VM Backup first review

Next, we can see all the Backup Infrastructure. The ESXi hosts and Hyper-V hosts and also all the VMs stored in each server.

In the upper right corner, we can select VMware or Hyper-V. Only the ones that are enabled will be visible. It can be handy for a better view.

Altaro VM Backup first review

Next, let us select where to store our backups.

Second step – Add Storage

In the Quick Setup, select the second step to add a Store for Backups.

For this case I will use my internal drives (iSCSI Luns) that I have in the Altaro VM Backup Windows Server.

Altaro VM Backup first review

Initially, I selected my G drive for these tests.

After we add the Backup locations in the same Backup Locations Windows, we can select our Offsite backup. It can be a physical drive, a Network path(NAS), a Cloud Storage, or the new Altaro Offsite Server(WAN Acceleration).

Here we can select all the Cloud Storage options that Altaro VM Backup is integrated.

So that I can separate my Backup, I have added two Backup Locations. One for Hyper-V Backups and one for VMware Backups.

In this step, we need to drag and drop any VMs, or the Hypervisor directly into the drive, and VMs will be stored in the drive select.

Note: For this case, I add Hyper-V to the G: drive and VMware to E:. I could select another type of Backup Location, like a NAS (e.g., NFS Share).

Third step – Take First Backup

After we save our changes above, we go to the Quick Setup’s third step: First Backup.

After selecting the Take First Backup option, we can now select the VMs you want to backup.

In the next image, we can see two different options. If we click on the Hyper-V, we only see the VMs from that Hypervisor. The same if we click on the VMware vCenter. We can now select one or the other to backup.

If we want to see all VMs regardless of the Hypervisor, click upper in the Infrastructure, and you will have the view of all Backup Infrastructure.

In the VM detail, clicking the schedule icon, we will go to the schedule settings.

Advanced Backup Settings

Besides Schedule, there are more Backup options settings that administrators can configure. Those are:

    • Schedule Settings
    • CDP Settings
    • Recovery Policy
    • VSS Settings
    • Advanced Settings
    • Delete Backup Versions
    • Master Encryption Key

I will try to do a quick review of all.

  • Schedule Settings

This section can drag and drop VMs into the default schedule or create a new one and add VMs into it.

When creating a new Schedule, we can create a schedule for the first backup and the secondary backup (Offsite Backups). With these two options, administrators can control both schedules for a primary and secondary backup.

  • CDP Settings

This is one of the main features of Altaro VM Backup. As we already talk at the beginning of this blog post, CDP will reduce your RPO. It always depends on what you select in the next options. The default for CDP is 1h

VM CDP can be configured from 5 minutes to 12 hours. Meaning that every 5m or every 12h, Altaro VM Backup will backup the Virtual Machine.

When using CDP Application, consistent is also very important. That is why Altaro VM Backup has an option just for that.

An Application-Consistent backup needs to be taken every 4 hours as a minimum. However, if your “Maximum Frequency” is configured to 4 hours or more, every backup you take will be an Application-Consistent one. Enabling Application-Consistent is only possible if it is enabled in the VSS Settings.

Pay attention to warning when setting CDP to high frequency. Every time is a snapshot created when CDP needs to run. High CDP frequency can stress your infrastructure (host, VM, Storage, Application, etc.). So used it with caution.

Note: CDP can set per VM or Host (all VMs on that host will have the same settings).

  • Retention Policy

Retention policy is where you set the policy to store your backups. How many backup per Day, per Week and Monthly. Using full backup for week and Monthly and using incremental for the rest of the backup.

Best Practices for retention Backups is called Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) Retention Policy. GFS Retention Policy is a backup rotation schedule for long-term backup archiving.

The Backups Plans are using a Rotation Schedule using GFS (grandfather-father-son). This method can be use backup on tapes, or to disk (using different backup files/restore points)

The next table shows how we use a GFS backup rotation plan in the most cost-effective way for the backups on this VMs.

We will use 5 weeks rotation(restore points) and a 6 month rotation for monthly backups. The daily backups is using a one week rotation.

  • 6 Daily or “Son” restore points (incremental).
  • 5 Weekly or “Father” ” restore points (Full Backup).

  • 6 Monthly or “Grandfather” restore points (Full Backup).

Note: This is an example for 6 month retention, but you can use rotation for 12 months, or more.

In the next image is where you can set this Rotation Policy in Altaro VM Backup.

  • VSS Settings

In VSS Settings, we set and enable Application-Consistent and Truncate logs for SQL or even Exchange Server. All these options needs that Altaro VM Tools to be installed in the VM. This VSS Settings’ goal is to have an Application Consistency backup for this type of VMs (SQL, Exchange Server, Domain Controllers, etc.).

You can set the option per host or VM. But beware that Application Consistency backup is only supported in Windows Server VMs.

  • Advanced Settings

In this section, we can notice those 5 options to use deduplication(enable by default), encryption, Exclude ISOs(enable by default),  Use CBT(enable by default), or exclude any Virtual Drives from your VMs.

For example, in deduplication, as the information stated, Backup is faster and uses less Storage using this option. This option is enabled by default. If you plan to disable on a VM or all VMs, always consider that you have more Storage space and slow backups.

  • Delete Backup Versions

This option is to maintain(delete) your existing backups. It is a good option and would like more Backup had this easy way to manage our backups.

As we can see in the next image, you can maintain (delete old data) for your local backups and the Offsite Copy Versions. Also, you can delete any VMs Backups that are not configured to backup anymore.

After you need to select the Backup Storage, the VMs Backup to delete, which restore points and delete.

As I said, it is straightforward to use and very useful.

  • Master Encryption Key

Here is where you set an Encryption Key for all your Backups. Any restore or Backup change will need to use this Encryption key. It is an option to protect your Backups from any unauthorized access or external access.

Note: Always save this Encryption Key in a safe place. If you lose this key, you cannot restore your data anymore.

With this last option, we finish the Advanced Backups Settings for your Jobs and Backups.

For the last option, we will check how to install Altaro VM Backup License.

Add License

To add a license to Altaro VM Backup, go to License Manager and click add and past the license key provided by Altaro.

Then you will see the type of license added. But this will not license your hosts.

To add or remove licenses from hosts, go to tab Licenses in the Setup, select the hosts and click Assign License.

Now all your hosts added to your Backup Infrastructure are licensed, and you can start your backups.

After you set the above configurations and settings, your Altaro VM Backup is ready to backup your Hyper-V and/or VMware VMs.

For the second part of this Altaro VM Backup first review, we will focus on how to Backup, type of Backup, and different ways to Restore your VMs, Virtual Disks, Guest OS Files, and objects.

Supported Hypervisors (Hosts)

Microsoft Hyper-V

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2012
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2012 R2
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2016
    • Windows Server 2016 (desktop experience)
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2016 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2019
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2019 (core installation)

VMware

    • vSphere: 5.0 / 5.1 / 5.5 / 6.0 / 6.5 / 6.7 / 7.0
    • vCenter: 5.0 / 5.1 / 5.5 / 6.0 / 6.5 / 6.7 / 7.0
    • ESXi: 5.0 / 5.1 / 5.5 / 6.0 / 6.5 / 6.7 / 7.0

Supported Operating Systems

The Altaro VM Backup products can be installed on the following OS’s:

Altaro VM Backup

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2012
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2012 R2
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 (core installation)
    • Windows Server 2016
    • Windows Server 2016 (desktop experience)
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2016
    • Windows Server 2019
    • Windows Hyper-V Server 2019

Check HERE all the requirements and supported systems.

For more information about Altaro and their main products, click in the products of the following links:

I hope this information was useful.

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©2020 ProVirtualzone. All Rights Reserved
Note: This post was sponsored by Altaro

 

By | 2020-12-02T22:47:13+01:00 December 2nd, 2020|Altaro, Backups, Hyper-V, Microsoft, VMware|0 Comments

About the Author:

I am over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry. Working with Virtualization for more than 10 years (mainly VMware). I am an MCP, VCP6.5-DCV, VMware vSAN Specialist, Veeam Vanguard 2018/2019, vExpert vSAN 2018/2019 and vExpert for the last 4 years. Specialties are Virtualization, Storage, and Virtual Backups. I am working for Elits a Swedish consulting company and allocated to a Swedish multinational networking and telecommunications company as a Teach Lead and acting as a Senior ICT Infrastructure Engineer. I am a blogger and owner of the blog ProVirtualzone.com

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