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Friday, 15 April 2016

Working with DataStore in vSpere, making backups and why, and some WebEx as well

I have decided to write this post as I was preparing a Webex update. As I was going through the release and installation notes (which all of us would do right?!). I came across a recommendation to make a back up of the virtual machine that was going to be upgraded, rather than making a snapshot.

Now, snapshots have been good friends of mine for a while now, and part of most of my change plans that involve on any kind of virtual machine (which all of us would do right!?).

This time, I decided to go the extra mile and actually create a proper backup of my virtual machine, pre-upgrade.  Why? well first of all a backup is an extra fail safe, and once you do it a couple of times, its not actually that hard, so why not do it right?  Now, I know most of us Cisco engineers are not exactly VMWARE kingpins, but learning a new trick is good right; its what keeps us going (well that and the big bucks anyway).

So spin up your VSphere client and I will walk you through it.

If you are going to use this post as a guide to do a Virtual machine backup:

STOP/powerdown/suspend/gracefully shutdown  that virtual machine first

(as a side note, you would need to do the same when making a snapshot, so write that down in WebEx's particular case, you can put your data centre in Maintenance mode, which pretty much suspends operations, this however will not allow you to backup your webex server, for this you truly will need to power off the VM, or suspend it). The reason for this power off/suspend it that your files you are trying to backup, will be "locked" and Vsphere will throw up an error message, saying that the file(s) cannot be copied, so suspend, suspend suspend. WebEX itself is a bit delicate, so suspending your servers in your datacentre, might lead to an error message on your administrator pages on the admin server indicating that one of the servers in your data centre "needs attention". In which case; flick your datacentre in and out of maintenance mode.

Suspending your virtual machine, will also prevent you from missing out on data from the moment you do the copy and the moment you do the upgrade. This means that the moment at which you have shut down you virtual machine, is  t=0 and is your restore point, so keep that in mind.

In order to back up a virtual machine, open the vSphere client, and open the "hosts and clusters" view (CTRL+SHIFT+H).  This will give you the screen below.

From here, select the host that your virtual machine is on (left hand column).

This will open up the properties of that host on the right (again, see above). Select the storage of the host, right click and choose "Browse datastore".

Now browse (see lab example above) to your virtual machine's folder and just select all the files in it, and past this into your desired backup folder.  Now this copying might take quite a bit of time, and depending on the size of VM and where you want to copy the files to, could easily take over an hour, per server. so keep that in mind in your change plan.

That is pretty much it, good luck and Namaste!

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