Altaro VM backup 7: the restores (part 2)

So a couple of weeks ago I managed to get my homelab backups running with Altaro.  Backups off course are nice but are worthless if you can’t recover them. This is  why this 2nd and last part of mini serie is about restoring the backups. Altaro has several options available: Restore clone, to a different host, File level restore and Exchange Item level restore plus the option to do a sandbox restore or simulation for testing those backups.

Table of Contents

Disk Usage
VM Restore
File level restore
Sandbox and verification
Boot from backup
Reports
Conclusion

Disk usage

Before restoring anything I was curious how much disk space is in use

Not that much, disk E is in use for the domain controller, file server, pfsense and server 2012 template while disk F is in use for the vCenter server, Platform Service controller and windows 7 template.

And this is how Altaro shows everything int he dashboard (can’t find any other reporting option on storage, yes that’s a hint Altaro I want that stuff in the mail!)

A very small growth rate but then I haven’t done a while lot with the homelab in this time. But the compression and dedupe are nice while the cpu doesn’t even spike that much each day.


VM restore

Ok, enough text about disk usage, let’s actually restore something! First up is VM restore.

To start select the datastore where the VM is saved. I would have preferred to select the VM first because at this point I don’t care where it is saved I want it back asap. And yes I can select all datastores but that shouldn’t be needed.

Click next and select the VM to be restored

Here I can select the point in time to restore from, the name of the restored VM (why does the default name contain clone while it’s a restore?), where to restore to and to disabled the NIC or not.

In vCenter you’ll see a new VM created, renamed and snapshotted

Now Altaro will fill it up and after 23 minutes of waiting (on my slow server) I had a fully functional VM that thought it had crashed 😉


File Level restore

File level restore isn’t that different from a VM level restore. I won’t bore you with the screenshots but first select the datastore and vm to restore from. Then select the point in time you want to get something back from. I don’t really get the order in which this is presented either.

Select the disk, partition, folder and eventually file to restore

Select the place to restore it to (why isn’t the original VM an option over here?)

And the file is restored


Sandbox and verification

Sandbox testing the VM’s is rather easy as well. First choose what you actually want to test. At first I’ll try the option to verify folders. For some steps I will only show the image because I am afraid that you’ve already fallen asleep by now.

Very weird but I can’t select any folders to test? My guess is that all folders will be tested, why do you name it verify folders then?

The full Test Restore is exactly the same but it mounts the VM so you can see it booting. To me this sounds exactly like restoring a VM with its NIC disabled. There seems to be no notification of a successful test and I needed to go to the dashboard to see if it succeeded. And there only the result is visible and no logs or anything. Also the option to remove the sandbox VM is missing.

The option to remove the test VM that seems to be missing is available in the Schedule test drills option. First refresh your infrastructure and select the VMware schedule type

Add a new Sandbox restore schedule, again there are 2 major options, file test and full test restore

So for the full test restore you can select after how much time the VM will be deleted. Besides the schedule not a whole lot of options.

After the schedule has been created you need to drag a VM to the schedule. I guess this will test the last version of the VM backup but for me it would be nice to also test two versions earlier or something.


Boot from backup

The storage I use won’t be able to handle this properly but Altaro also has the option to boot a VM directly from the storage it is saved on. First select if you want to do a verification or recovery mode boot. To show the screens I will take the first option.

It has the same screens to select storage,VM and date so I won’t bother you again with those. At the version tab you can again select the host, datastore to restore to and if you want to have the NIC’s disabled or not.


Reports

The reporting doesn’t really contain a whole lot except a list of succeeded or failed tasks. The detail button doesn’t add a whole lot of information either.

The error history shows a bit more information but still not a lot.


Conclusion

Altaro is a reasonable well done product that lack’s a bit in options for the professional in me. Getting it running is easy and for smaller environments (up to 50 VM’s) where there is no dedicated admin it should get the job done. If they make the move to a Linux based appliance that might be better because for these smaller environments every penny and thus license counts. What I do like are the build in options to actually test the backups.

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