There are some tools in the market regarding free Backup tools for Virtual Environments (some may include physical). Personally, I do not know in detail all products that are in the market. In this article, I will try to focus the ones that offer a free license with the most features included. What are the best choices for each type of business and Hypervisor.
Since two years, Virtual Backup tools have improved a lot. Tools like Nakivo, Vembu and in some point Altaro, had significant improvements in their products and are getting very close to the Virtual Backup tool that as more experienced in Virtual Backup and are in the market for a long time (more than 10 years), Veeam and with success. All now have a free version to their paid licensed products.
Will try to provide an overview of all products, will not go through to all features, but will try to focus on the main features of each product, but only the ones that are available in the free version.
This review is about the free options that are in the market, not about what is the best ones or at the top.
Will list tools and reviews by alphabetic order. All these free Backup tools work not only for VMware environments but also for Hyper-V, (both options are available in the free versions).
In all tools, you have the free version or the full version with 30 days licensed.
Key features for Free version is:
- Number of virtual machines that can be backed up and restored per host (2 VMs per host)
- Restore old versions of VMs up to 4 weeks
- Flexible Backup Scheduling
- Hot/Live Backups (Backup running VMs without having to stop them)
- Fast & Small Backups – Compression
- Restore Clone (Can restore VMs to the same host but with a different name – i.e. does not overwrite existing VMs.)
Altaro VM Backup is a useful tool in the market. Have a very improved and easy to use GUI. As a free version, you can backup two VMs from each host, but as a con hosts cannot belong to a Cluster (like a Datacenter Cluster). The license will not work in a Cluster and you cannot backup your VMs. Therefore, you need to add individual vSphere Hosts to backup/restore your two VMs using the free license.
Note: Altaro Backup tool only works in Windows Servers to Backup VMware or Hyper-v infrastructures.
You can download a full 30-day trial of Altaro VM Backup – Unlimited Edition.
Free Edition will automatically change the after 30 days trial, keeping you running for free on 2 VMs – forever.
Check here the differences between free vs paid versions FreevsPaid
Download Altaro VM Backup free version HERE.
Nakivo Backup & Replication is a Backup tool that improved a lot in the last two years. Nakivo B&R v7 now also supports Hyper-V backups.
Nakivo Backup & Replication Free Edition has the following features:
- Backup to remote or local destination
- Instant file restore
- Instant VM Recovery from Backup repository
- backup copy, including a backup copy to Amazon cloud
- Network acceleration
- Deduplication & Compression, both features are part of free edition
- Amazon cloud support for archiving
- Instant AD and Exchange object recovery
- Full VM restore in case you have to restore a complete VM.
- You can use multiple backup repositories and transporters
The Trial license has no functional limitations, but it has a trial period. After the trial period expires, product functionality will disable.
Free licenses Backup up to 2 VMs (to have the free licenses after finish trial license you need to request a free license from Nakivo support).
With Nakivo Backup Free Edition you can migrate and copy VMs between hosts and storage devices, even if are located on standalone hosts, managed by different vCenters, or not even connected to each other.
Note: This is a good option if we have two, or more, ESXi hosts without vCenter and vMotion and we need to move/migrate VMs between hosts.
Nakivo also uses a built-in de-duplication and compression Data. Nakivo will automatically de-duplicates backup data across entire repository keeping unique blocks of data. The de-duplicated blocks are then compressed to reduce space utilization even further. This combination results in up to a 30X storage space reduction for the backup repository.
As we can see in the next images, options in the Free Edition are the same that we have in the licensed version. However, will only work for two VMs (you cannot create another job for more two VMs, you will need to delete the previous one to create another Backup Job for two more VMs).
As we can see in the next image, only two VMs are allowed to Backup/Restore in the Free Edition.
Here we can see that even is a Free Edition, we can Backup/Restore or replicate, to VMware, Hyper-V, but also to a Cloud Environment using AWS.
As we can check in the next image, all the features are also available in the Free Edition (like using CBT, Application Awareness, Screenshot verification and using a different type of Transports and also set the Transport mode).
Just a Free Edition Backup example and the next-gen, Web 2.0 UI that new Nakivo Backup v7 uses.
You can download and read more about Nakivo Backup & Replication Free Edition HERE.
Veeam is a backup tool that is in the market for a long time, and Veeam had improved the product during the last 10 years.
Veeam launched is new version 9.5 in last November. Some new features to improve an already good product.
Veeam Backup Free Edition uses the Veeam product VeeamZIP for backups on the fly, but also for migrations between ESXi hosts.
With Veeam Backup Free Edition you can Backup full VMs, but also individual files.
Veeam Free Edition has the following full features:
- Full VM recovery
- Instant VM Recovery
- VM file and virtual disk recovery
- Direct Restore to Microsoft Azure
- Veeam Explorer™ for Storage Snapshots (HPE, NetApp, EMC, and Nimble) – VMware Only
- Built-in deduplication, compression, and swap exclusion
- Support for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V
- Standalone console
- Multiple storage access options
- File Manager
- Quick Migration – VMware Only
Partially supported in free edition:
- Instant File-Level Recovery
- Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Active Director
- Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange
- Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server
- Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint
- Application-aware, image-based backups
- BitLooker – supports only non-scheduled full backups
- End-to-end encryption
- Native tape support
- vCloud Director support – VMware only
Check here the differences between free vs paid versions FreevsPaid.
You can download and read more about Veeam Backup Free Edition HERE.
Vembu BDR Suite is another Backup tool that has been improved a lot in the last years. Vembu lunch last version 3.7 did bring some real improvements to the tool. With the new version, Vembu also launched the free edition version. Like we have announced HERE.
Vembu BDR Suite Free Edition offers Backup and Recovery for both virtual and physical environments forever with no costs involved.
Vembu BDR Free Edition works for Virtual and Physical Backups. The free edition can perform full image backup/restore both virtual machines or physical servers, files, folders and applications with only a few restrictions.
Free Edition will work with the Backup/Restore Object Applications, using Application Aware Backup Processing. Will restore individual application items from Exchange, SQL, SharePoint and Active Directory VMs.
Vembu BDR Free Edition will work with full features for 30 days, after the 30 days trial you have the option to purchase a license, or you have the possibility to continue to use the product as a free edition with some features restriction.
Vembu BDR Free Edition will work with VMware and Hyper-V.
Check HERE for Hyper-V details.
Note: Vembu has developed its own proprietary driver to backup only the used blocks of Hyper-V VMs in an efficient manner especially with up to 5X improvement in performance over other backup software.
Check HERE for VMware details.
Note: Vembu VMBackup Free Edition backup all the virtual machines running in VMware ESXi host and vCenter environments without installing the agents on each VMs Supports multiple VMware transport modes like Direct SAN, HotAdd and Network based (NBD & NBDSSL).
Key features for Free Edition:
- Agentless VMware/Hyper-V Backup
- vCenter level backup
- Backup Multiple VMs
- Full VM Backup
- VM/Disk Exclusion
- LAN free data transfer using SAN and Hot-Add modes
- Application Aware Backup Processing
- Permanent VM Recovery to ESXi
- Instant file recovery
- Instant Granular Recovery for Microsoft Exchange
- Instant Granular Recovery for Microsoft SQL
- Instant Granular Recovery for Microsoft SharePoint
- Instant Granular Recovery for Microsoft Active Directory
- Cross Hypervisor Migration (V2V)
- Multiple storage location
- Scale-out storage repository
- In-built Compression and Deduplication
- End-to-end encryption
Features included for physical servers:
- Full Image backup
- Backup selected disks and drives
- Backup MBR & GPT Partitions
- Backup disks more than 2 TB
- Bare Metal Recovery
- File-Level Recovery
Check here the differences between free vs paid versions FreevsPaid.
You can download and read more about Vembu BDR Suite Free Edition HERE.
There are other Backup tools like Unitrends , HPE VM Explorer, or even Acronis Backup. Have free and trial solutions. In my opinion, these tools are not as reliable as the options I have presented here.
Then we have vSphere Data Protection (VDP), VMware Backup Tool, is included in the vSphere Essentials Plus and higher. VDP is a tool that I do not like for large environments. In the last versions (last is v6.1.4) VMware has correct many of the issues that we had in the past but is still not a very stable product. VMware and Dell (when they included Avamar technology in VDP) did try to improve and sell the product, but after a while and with some bad news about sales, VMware decided to add this product to vSphere license.
You can read more about VDP HERE.
However, again did not work out and there was no consistent use of this product, so VMware announced that they will discontinue this product and will not launch another version. VMware will leave the backups area to 3parties. That is good news for Software Backup companies that will try to grab those customers that will need to move from VDP to another Backup solution.
VMware and Dell, are trying to move customers to a new product Dell EMC Avamar Virtual Edition. Never used, so I cannot give too much feedback about this product.
All free Virtual Backups tools are alike, some with more features than others are. However, that, in most cases, is because of the product itself, not because is a free edition. The restrictions regarding the number of VMs or Servers that you can backup are similar to all products. The restrictions on the number of backups that you are allowed to perform works in a different way for the different products, but all have, of course, some restrictions. The purpose of the software companies is that you try the product and then buy the license version.
If you have a small environment (test lab, or just one Hypervisor), a free tool maybe is enough for your backups, but if you have a production environment or even a big test environment, then you should choose the license version to backup your environment.
All production have 30 days trial with full features where you can test the full product and check if it fits in your environment.
Note: If you are a blogger, a vExpert or just an IT professional that like to test products, most of this companies offers NFR (not for resale) licenses. Just contact them and request an NFR license.
Hope this article did help you to know more about Virtual Backups Free tools and choose your product for your, or for your company.
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