Last year I wrote a couple of posts about Vembu, somewhere in the next couple of weeks they are expecting to release version 3.9.0 of their Backup Suite. They have some very new features to be added with this version like Windows Event Viewer integration. This gives the administrator a way to check if backups have succeeded without having to logon to the backup server, besides that it also provides an easy way with almost any monitoring product to make an status for the backups.
For those of you who still require data to be written to tape Vembu will also add that function trough the Vembu console. Besides VMware ESXi backups you will be able to quick recover Hyper-V Machines and Disk Image backups as well. Another important addition is the encryption of backups with AES-256 bit encryption, just make sure to safeguard that key or you might not ne able to recover anything.
Overview of announced changes:
Tape Backup Support
Vembu extends its support to native tape backup through the Vembu BDR console. You can
utilise the best known 3-2- 1 backup strategy of having 3 copies of backup data in 2 different
media and 1 off-site location for an efficient DR plan. This secondary backup approach will help
you to archive the image based backups in both virtual and physical environments like VMware,
Hyper-V and Windows Servers and recover them in multiple formats like VHD, VMDK,
VHDX, VMDK-Flat and RAW.
Auto Authorization at Off-site DR
Enabling the auto authorization feature will allow only the authorized Vembu BDR servers to get
connected with Vembu OffsiteDR servers (Replication) using the registration key.
Quick VM Recovery on ESXi for Hyper-V and Disk Image Backups
Instant recovery of backed up data on VMware ESXi is now made available for both the Hyper-
V VMs and Windows Servers backup jobs for an effective Disaster Recovery. This recovery of
the virtual machines happens in a matter of seconds by booting the backed up machine directly
from the backup storage repository, from where all the files, folders and applications can be
Windows Event Viewer Integration
All the events of the Vembu BDR, Off-siteDR & agents like information on critical, warnings
and major events are updated in the Event Viewer of Windows Servers when enabled for better
Advanced Backup level encryption for all agents
Users will be able to configure AES-256 bit encryption for all their backup jobs of VMware,
Hyper-V, Disk Image through their customized passwords using corresponding password hints
OffsiteDR Server retentions using Vembu Network Backup
OffsiteDR retention policies is now available for the Network Backup plugins too, like the image
based backups of VMware, Hyper-V and Disk Image backups at the too.
Listing of files & Folders in aciTree structure
The listing of files and folders while configuring backups on a Network Backup plugin is now up
with the aciTree structure for easy and quick navigation.
Pre/Post backup scripts for all Network & Image Backup clients
This feature provides the ability to configure running custom actions before and after the
execution backup schedule. The custom actions may include running an application using some
AngularJS conversion of UI for Vembu OnlineBackups
The overall UI of Vembu OnlineBackup is improved for better performance like the current
Vembu BDR and Off-siteDR.
Update of consumed space on the Vembu Portal
Based on the display of the consumed space of Vembu Online Backup and SaaSBackup plugins,
the customer will be able to allocate and purchase further cloud storage post purchase and
So last time I gave an introduction to Vembu version 3.7. Last week 3.8 was released so I will talk about the upgrade and actually running some backups in this post. My backups have been running for some weeks already (when the lab is powered on that is) so I’ll also try to recover some data from before the upgrade. The release notes for the 3.8 release are at the bottom of this post.
First download the update from Vembu and then install the update. Except for an uninstall or update option and maybe one or two uac questions it’s a matter of next next finish. After logging back on to the web console the first thing I noticed is a bit of a different color scheme that I like better then the old one. Is this something I care about in a backup product? No but I like it anyway.
Setting up backups
So after we enter the console it’s time to go to the backup menu > VMware vSphere (isn’t the new Vembu logo lovely?)
Click on add VMware vSphere Server, enter all required data and hit save
Vembu will add the vCenter server or ESXi host and bring you back to the list of servers. Now hit the backup button on the right of the server you want to create a schedule for.
Select the servers you want to backup and if needed exclude disks
The next page gives to option to use Application aware Settings. These are expensive words for VSS so if you have included Linux vm’s you might want to ignore failures for this or create a different backup job for them. If you want to truncate logs from this job that can also be doen from here. The VMware Guest Credentials are required for this to work.
The next page gives the option to create the actual schedule. What I like most is the ease of setting up an extra regular Full backup schedule with it’s own retention rule.
The last page gives the option to set the retention policy. Basic counts in daily incrementals while under advanced a combination of weekly and monthly can be made.
The last tab let’s you review the settings before committing them.
For restoring there’s a boatload of options available. It would be stupid and really boring to explain them all in here but if you have done some restores in the past their name will be self explanatory.
First you pick from what backup job to recover the data. Note that you also see the sql backups even though they are managed from the sql box itself.
One thing that shows Vembu is more SMB is the fact that no restores are possible if a backup is running.
So if there are no active jobs you can pick whatever recover poison you like. There’s a lot of options to use from here.
For this walktrough I will pick the File Level recovery since that probably will be the most used one. Now select the required point in time , virtual machine,vmdk and the file or folder to recover.
I was only able to select the local disks from the backup server to restore to.
The last page again lets you review what to restore and hit restore now for the obvious reason.
I also tried the Disk Image Mount and this mounted the disk from my file server in seconds to my backup server.
This belongs under the improvements of v3.8 but reporting has improved quite a lot. Under Reports > Backup Status Report there is still the default view that only shows the status of the different jobs.
Onder VM Status Report though there is now a good usable list of all the vm’s and their own backup status, schedule and size.
And clicking the more button gives you an even better view of that vm with it’s history.
For me Vembu is a very useful backup product that just does what it has to do without any hassle. It backups my data and if I want to get anything back that also works without any problems. While it might not be an Enterprise product for SMB it does the trick and then some more with the plugins they have.
Version 3.8 changelog
Disk Image Backup from BDR Server
Disk Image Backups can now be configured and managed via Vembu BDR Server. Relying on
proxy agents is no longer required, unless it’s a distributed deployment which require individual
proxy agent installation.
FLR from GUI (Backup & Replication)
File Level Recovery(FLR) is now available for both backup and replication jobs where user can
choose specific files and folders from VMware/Hyper-V/Disk Image backups and VMware
replication, to be restored in a quick fashion.
Seed load backup data to OffsiteDR
Storing copy of backup data for DR requirements is now an easy task to be accomplished by
seed loading backup server data to desired offsite data center. This save loads of time and
bandwidth from being consumed.
Enabling Auto authorization in Vembu BDR allows proxy agents to get registered to backup
server using unique registration key generated by respective BDR server.
Users can now provide additional security to their disk based backup jobs by assigning custom-
password to backup server, such that all their backup data will be encrypted and can be
restored/accessed only by providing the custom-password.
Storage Pools are used to aggregate the space available from different volumes and utilise
them as a storage for specific backups. The hybrid volume manager of Vembu BDR Server
supports scalable and extendable backup storage for different storage media such as Local
drives, NAS(NFS and CIFS) and SAN(iSCSI and FC). Vembu BDR provides storage pooling
option for both backup level and group level.
MSI Installer : For all Clients
Users will now get the client agents installer as .msi format also.The installer will check for the
following packages based on the OS types (32 bit or 64 bit) and it will install the following (if not
Visual C++ 2008 redistributable packages x86
Visual C++ 2008 redistributable packages x64
Visual C++ 2013 redistributable packages x64
Visual C++ 2015 redistributable packages x86
Enhancements in v3.8
Enable or Disable retention for VMBackup / ImageBackup
User can enable or disable retention policy for the backups based on their requirements.
Disabling retention allows user to maintain all the backups without any merging of the
incremental timestamps. This option is used when the backup size is low.
Disk level download option for VMware & Hyper-V plugins
Users can download backup data in multiple disk file formats such as: VHD, VMDK, VHDX,
VMDK-Flat and RAW.
Similarly, if user need to download individual disks in a virtual machine, he can perform disk
level download by selecting the disks.
From a group of virtual machines in a host backup, multiple disks can be downloaded with same
disk file format.
Disk Management Mount(Hyper-V)
This option lets you instantly attach backup data to disk management as a VHD/VHDX file and
proceed with the restore process. The VHD/VHDX file is created by virtually mounting the
backup data on the vembu virtual drive. Users can access backup data via disks attached on disk
Once done with requirement, unmount backup data. This will resume backup job, so that
incrementals will run as scheduled.
List VMs in an alphabetical order
Virtual Machines that are present in the host will be listed in an alphabetical order based on the
ASCII table values, thereby making it simpler for the user to search and configure the backup. In
the Review Configuration page, the Virtual machines that are chosen for backup is listed in the
Note: Virtual Machines will be listed in the following hierarchical order <special characters>,
<numeric characters>, <Uppercase letters>, <lowercase letters>.
Search option for VMs in backup config page & restore list page
This option allows user to search the Virtual machines that are available in the ESXi host. Also,
the user can search VMs/ host/cluster from a vCenter server. By specifying the required VM
name in the search option you can select the VMs that are to be backed up from a ESXi
VM level reports in OffsiteDR Server
This page lists all replicated jobs configured from backup server to the offsite server where you
can see a report option alongside every replicated job
New menu for consolidated VM level report in BackupServer & OffsiteDR
VM level report gives the user the centralized report page of all VMs that are configured for
backup. It allows user to view the detailed backup reports of virtual machines configured from
both ESXi or Hyper-V Host.
Full featured free edition
Post 30 days trial version, user can either opt to purchase the product or continue using the free
In Free edition user has two options to proceed with backup configurations : Full featured free
edition or Limited Edition.
Admin\Read Only Access privileges at both Backup Server and Group Level
Email Settings in Backup Agents
Email Report for OffsiteDR
Backup Verification Email Report (Backup Server & OffsiteDR)
Backup Level Report in Backup Status Report (Backup Server)
So a while back Vembu asked me if I would like them to sponsor this blog. After some thought I decided to do so but for me that also meant I wanted to test their product. It implemented their product but was really busy with other project so I wasn’t able to write something about it until now.
Please remind me what is Vembu?
Vembu BDR is a suite of products aimed at the medium Enterprise and SMB markets. It offers on and off-premises backups, replication but for example also backups of your saas applications like Office 365 and Google G-suite (former Google apps).
The primary way of installing Vembu is by deploying a Windows server where you install the software. It is also possible to install it on a Linux host but that might require some more work. For me the most promising way to start was using the Linux appliance they offer when you ask for it. This basically is a Ubuntu LTS installation that comes with the software preinstalled. It has 8 vcpu’s configured and 16GB of ram which was a bit rich for me plus I ran into some problems with it later on (It couldn’t quiesce my backup snapshots because I couldn’t add AD credentials, this works perfectly with the windows installation). While you might spare a Windows license when using the Linux installation it seems like Vembu prefer the Windows installation themselves. The installation on Windows actually is really a straight forward next next finish installation, nothing fancy about it.
The backup server offers a shortcut to the software on the desktop but assuming that firewalls are no issue you can connect to the server on port 6061 from any other system. This has to be doen using https though because using http will result in a 400 bad request error. The used certificate is of the self signed variety but on their knowledge base Vembu offers a simple guide to use a proper certificate.
Once you login with your credentials this is the dashboard that is shown, clean and simple.
Backup & replication
The menus under backup and replication might be a bit confusing, The vSphere or Hyper-V at top aren’t to see all jobs related to that but are to setup new backup or replication jobs. The List all jobs or List jobs buttons will show all configured jobs.
Actually it doesn’t show all configured backup jobs, it actually shows all backup jobs that run on this system. If you have physical or virtual machines using the agent then those jobs are only visible on the machine it runs on. For me this is proof that Vembu might not be a an enterprise product because for one or two it might be doable to manage them this way but for more I would prefer to have one GUI handling them all.
This shows the list of jobs while the one job I have us running
Clicking the green triangle shows the status for the running job
What ? You expected anything else for this menu item then to do recover files and things?
Under reports you can find some very basic reports about jobs. Don’t expect to find any information on what failed exactly or anything
It is also possible to schedule email status reports besides the mail send when a job is finished.
It might also be wise to create a filter for information you actually would like to receive.
Under management several settings and other things can be found. Like what storage to use for backups (NFS/CIFS/SMB), email server and cloud targets.
Vembu is a leading provider of a portfolio of software products and cloud services to small and medium businesses for more than a decade. Vembu’s vision is to make software and cloud services very affordable for the hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses worldwide.
Vembu’s flagship offering is the BDR Suite of products meant for on-premise, offsite, cloud backup and disaster recovery across diverse IT environments including physical, virtual, applications and endpoints. Vembu CRM Suite consists of products that addresses the needs of all customer facing teams including support, sales, marketing & social media engagement.
Since 2002, Vembu’s industry-recognized data protection solutions have delivered tangible value to more than 60,000 businesses worldwide through a network of 4000+ partners (MSPs/VARs & Resellers).
The different products under Vembu BDR Suite are categorized on the basis of environments:
For Virtualized environments like VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V:
Vembu VMBackup, part of Vembu BDR Suite provides reliable, efficient, agentless VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V backups for small and medium businesses with enterprise level features at affordable pricing. With Round-the- clock Business Availability as its sole aim, Vembu VMBackup provides faster recovery options which ensures that the business continuity is not disrupted. With VM Replication for High Availability, Vembu CBT Driver for high performance incremental backups, VSS aware technology for application consistency, Automated Backup Verification, VembuHIVE File System, a File System of File Systems for efficient backup storage, Multiple migration options, Flexible & Configurable Retention Policies, Vembu VMBackup is tailor made for all Backup & DR requirements of a complete virtual Datacenter. Also, to empower small businesses to have business continuity, Vembu provides 50% discount on Vembu VMBackup for small businesses having up to 6 CPU-Sockets
For Windows IT environments:
Vembu ImageBackup, part of Vembu BDR Suite is a complete backup and disaster recovery solution for Windows IT environments. It provides an option to do entire system level backup or specific file level backup in Windows Servers and workstations. It also ensures RTO less than 15 minutes by delivering reliable recovery options like Bare Metal Recovery, Quick VM Recovery, Instant File Recovery, Partition level Recovery etc. Furthermore, Desktops/Laptops Backup is completely free.
For Applications, File Servers, Endpoints:
Vembu NetworkBackup, part of Vembu BDR Suite is designed for small medium businesses to protect business data across file servers, application servers, workstations and other endpoints. With NetworkBackup businesses can backup all their systems to a central location which is easier to manage.
Vembu OnlineBackup, part of Vembu BDR Suite provides File Server, MS Exchange, MS SQL, MS SharePoint & MS Outlook Backups directly to Vembu’s secure cloud using enterprise-grade AES 256-bit encryption with granular restores.
For SaaS applications like Microsoft Office365 and G Suite:
Vembu SaaSBackup, part of Vembu BDR Suite is designed for backing up the Mails, Drives, Calendar and Contacts of Office 365 and Google Apps. Vembu SaaSBackup’s core system will manage all backup and restore operations as per the user request. The backup data will be sent to the Vembu Cloud storage over secured network.
Vembu also offers a free version that has many great features. The paid version has even more very usable features that you can see in the comparison.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the perks of being a VMware vExpert is that you now and then get licenses for and a chance to play with new software. Since I needed a backup solution for my lab I remembered a couple of Backup software builders int he list of companies that support the community. From this list I decided to give Altaro a go and requested the vExpert NFR License. Within a day I received the license and it turned out they just released a brand new version of their software: Version 7!
The mail contained a download link to the software and after a while I had a new (backup) vm rolled out (someone who wants to sponsor a NUC with 32GB RAM for me? ML150G6’s are slooooooow). Installing the software is next next finish so I won’t bore with that. One thing I noticed is no requirement for a database server. Let’s hope my disks are fast enough for what Altaro does.
This post is in no means a deep dive in what Altaro can give you. It’s a step by step guide to set it up and get started with the product. Also I show some features that are present in the console. Except for the NFR license Altaro has had no influence on this post itself.
The first thing you see after the installation is the Welcome screen that let’s you choose to connect to a local or remote server. Just select this machine (I like it that they mention the required port for the remote server though!)
Next up is the Quick Setup screen, select add Hyper-V / VMware Host (duh)
So here you can select between loose ESXi hosts and vCenter, I selected vCenter.
Enter the vCenter’s dns name/ip address and proper credentials (yes I am lazy in my lab) and next (it wil test the connection itself anyway. Under port settings you can set alternate ports if required.
Altaro will now recognize and add the ESXi hosts that are added to the vCenter server. It had no problems with my LABESX01 that is powered down. Hit finish to end this.
You are taken to the hosts screen where they show running on a trial license.
You can hit the 30 days remaining to add licenses, the licensing options will be shown.
The license can be added with the appropriate button. Enter the license key and select assign license.
You need to repeat this for all hosts!
After this I went back to the quick setup screen to add storage. Altaro has several options to write to but I added a couple of cmdk’s to the backup server that run on local slow as **** sata drives on this server.
Select physical disk
Select the disk (yes these screenshots are mixed up), create a new folder if you want and choose select .
When the storage is added you can link vm’s to the storage by drag & drop.
back to the quick setup i went and choose to create the first backup. this will take you to the take backup screen, select the vm to backup and hit take backup.
I decided to remove the original schedules and add a new one. The time might look strange but during the daytime no-one is home and I ain’t playing with it unlike in the evening and sometimes nights. After deleting the old ones click Add Backup Schedule
Select the time and days you want to run the backup at.
When the schedule is created drag and drop the vm’s to the schedule to link them. Don’t forget to save these settings at the bottom.
Setting retentions is fairly easy, by default vm’s are linked to the 2 week retention policy. If you remove them by clicking the X they wil get moved to the Never delete policy! Please be aware that after adding a retention time I wasn’t able to remove it so this might get cluttered easily.
Fairly basic stuff in here, you can get notified by email or events int he event log.
Not that extremely advanced but under advanced settings you can select deduplication, encryption, iso’s to be backupped and if Change Block tracking needs to be used. The last option is exclude drives where you actually select the vmdk to exclude so make sure what vmdk is what drive or mapping.
Under VSS Settings you have the option to select application consistent backups and to truncate logs.
The Master encryption Key
.The name says enough about what this does.
The End of part 1
In this part one we got started using Altaro Vm Backup 7 and viewed some of the options In the management console. In the next part we’re going to see if we can actually restore files, maybe start a vm from backup and see what the sandboxing does.