How Should I Back Up VMware Workstation?

VMware Workstation isn’t quite a server-grade beast; however, we have thousands of BackupChain installations taking care of VMware Workstation and VMware Server successfully.

Now when it comes to backing up VMware Workstation it’s really important to do some tweaking in the system so everything runs smoothly.

Recommended reading: VMware Workstation Speed-Up, How to Fix Slow Performance

 

System Optimizations

Also, make sure you use at least BackupChain v2.4.534 (ask the helpline if need be) and use a VMware Backup task type.

Furthermore, on a Windows Server, use VSSUIRUN.EXE as shown in this article to lift all VSS area limits.

On a Windows PC (XP and later) open the command prompt as admin and enter

vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=UNBOUNDED

or if it doesn’t accept that

vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=X: /MaxSize=200GB

Replace 200GB with some really high number. Remember that max size refers to the maximum buffer size to use to buffer altered blocks on the disk, for the duration of the backup.  Unfortunately, Microsoft uses ridiculously low limits here, which cause a lot of unnecessary trouble.

 

Live vs. Cold Backups, With or Without VMware Snapshots

The default setting in BackupChain will take live backups; however, some users want cold backups or backups with additional VMware Snapshots generated.

In order to take cold backups (shut down the VM before the backup and then start it up again) you need to add the VMware vmrun.exe command into BackupChain, as shown below.

The command to stop a VM is (you would add that in the box “Run Program when this backup task starts:”):

C:\path-to-vmware\vmrun.exe stop “C:\path-to-vm\myvm.vmx”

 

The command to start a VM is (add this to the box “run program when this backup task finishes”):

C:\path-to-vmware\vmrun.exe start “C:\path-to-vm\myvm.vmx”

 

In order to generate VMware Snapshots before the backup and clean them up afterwards, use the following command couple:

vmrun -T ws snapshot "c:\my VMs\myVM.vmx" mySnapshot
vmrun -T ws deleteSnapshot "c:\my VMs\myVM.vmx" mySnapshot

 

Insert the commands in the section shown below:

externalutilities

As always, feel free to ask our helpline for, what else, help…they love to hear from you!