Freeing Up Space on Virtual Machines

A Virtual Machine (also referred to as VM) is actually an OS (Operating System). It can also be seen as an application environment which has been installed on software that emulates dedicated hardware. For end users, the experience of being on a virtual machine remains exactly as it would on dedicated hardware.

Hypervisor (specialized software) imitates the Server’s CPU or PC client, network, hardware, hard disk, memory and similar hardware resources entirely, which allows VMs to share resources. Multiple virtual hardware platforms can be imitated by hypervisor that are cut off from each other. This allows VMs to run Window Servers and Linux OS on the same underlying physical host.

Virtualization helps you deduce the need for physical hardware systems, which in essence help you reduce cost. Virtual machines lower the required quantity of hardware by efficiently using the existing hardware and all of this, reduces maintenance costs, cooling demands and power needs.

All in all they sound perfect. So what is the problem?

Most virtual machines dynamically allocate space so that not all of the disk space is occupied. This is actually good because the operating system and software take very little space. The problem however arises when you discover that the space once allocated, will always remain allocated. As you add and delete files, caches build up and after that even if internally your virtual machine occupies very little space, on your hard drive it might completely take over.

· How to Free Up Space Then?

If you are using VMware then you can use the compact tool that comes with it to recover space, but be warned that it only works ootb (out of the box) with Windows virtual machines. However, if you have a Linux virtual machine with a journaling file system similar to ext4 then you might need to make some extra preparations. In a nutshell, it means that the preparation would require for you create a massive empty file that only contains 0.

To start the process, you first need to stop running all the services. The newly created file will consume the virtual disk’s free space. When they will no longer be able to write to the disk, the running services will malfunction. You need to stop the running services before you create the file if you don’t want your database server to crash.

The command to create the file is: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dummy bs=4096. This command allows dd to create a file named dummy in /. The free space of the virtual disk will be the entire file size. For example if your configured virtual disk is 500GB and out of that 400GB is free, then the size of the file would be 400GB. You don’t need to have 400GB free on your physical disk where the virtual machine is stored on the real space needed will be 0 MB as you write zeros. After dd fills your system, it will exit out. You can delete the dummy file using rm /dummy.

You need to shut down your virtual machine and open the VM Player. On the panel, locate properties select the hard disk you want to compact and start the Compact tool from the Utilities drop down menu.

Doing that will start the compact tool and after a while you will see a success message informing you that the disk was compacted.

If you use cloud VMs then you should start using CloudBacko. The software helps you with smooth Hyper-V backup and VMware backup. This will more or less solve the spacing issue. To know more about CloudBacko’s features or to get it now, visit http://www.cloudbacko.com/

VMware vs. Hyper-V: Which one is better?

For a very long time, the best choice for enterprise class server virtualization was VMware ESX (now known as VMware ESXi). But all that changed when some very serious changes were made to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 by Microsoft. Suddenly, there was something else that could be considered which was just as good. But most people still want to know what the main differences between the two are and which one is the better hypervisor.

This can be a little tricky as both VMware Inc. and Microsoft are reputable companies offering great products for the enterprise environment. At a first glance, you will find that both VMware and Hyper-V offer highly capable solutions. Both of them have a very similar feature set. Both offer similar core feature set like virtual machine (VM) migration, network interface card teaming, network virtualization and even virtual machine (VM) migration.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any differences between the two. You just have to look closely to point them out.

· Dynamic Memory

Both VMware and Hyper-V adjust dynamical physical memory usage, putting the needs the guest OS (Operating System) first. However, VMware presents Dynamic Memory support to all guest OS. While on the other hand Hyper-V has historically supported Dynamic Memory only for virtual machines that ran Windows only. This feature has been changed since then.

· Scalability

When you consider scalability, you will find that the Hyper-V hosts can offer support as much as 320 logical processors, as opposed160 offered by VMware. Likewise, Hyper-V servers can handle up to 4TB of RAM, but VMware vSphere 5.1 Enterprise Plus is capable of addressing only 2TB of RAM.

· Licensing

Now we come to bigger differences and the most major of them is the way in which the products are licensed. Microsoft includes Hyper-V with Windows Server 2012. Singular Datacenter Edition license is valid for up to two CPU cores. It also permits an unlimited number of virtual machines running on the host. Without requiring an extra OS license the bonus feature of the Datacenter Edition license permits every virtual machine running on the host to run Windows Server 2012.

All core capabilities of Hyper-V are included in a Windows Server license. Extra features like ‘Live Migration’ don’t have to be paid for separately. While on the other hand, you have to pay premium prices for some of VMware’s core features.

· Services

As mentioned before, Hyper-V is included with Windows Server 2012. But it is likely that large organizations that necessitate enterprise management capabilities will also require System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. But that is about it as far as the extent of Microsoft’s Hyper-V offerings go.

While on the other hand, VMware offers dozens of different products (or variations of products). But it has to be noted that while the offer of multiple feature capability might seem promising, most inexperienced administrators find it difficult to know which products to purchase.

SO which one of them is better? Honestly? It’s really hard to tell. Because of the similarity of the key features, both Hyper-V and VMware would suit just about any environment. But the end decision should be yours and what you feel comfortable deploying.

If your main issue is security while you backup Hyper-V and VMware, then you need not worry about that. CloudBacko, the best cloud backup software, offers smooth VMware backup and hyper-v backup and keeps your data 100% secure. You can get more in depth information about this amazing software at http://www.cloudbacko.com/

Functions of Snapshots in VMware

blog_graphics_snapshots_vmwareThe snapshot characteristic is very accommodating when you would like to protect the condition of the virtual machine so that you can go back to the similar state frequently.

To merely save the present state of the virtual machine, and then start with the same work later, hang the machine.

You will be able take a snapshot of the virtual machine at whatever time you want and slip back to that snapshot anytime you have to. You can also take a snapshot whilst the virtual machine is switched on, switched off or even suspended.

A snapshot saves the virtual machine as it was when you took that snapshot, the condition of the information on every one of the virtual machine’s hard disks plus whether the virtual machine was powered off or on or was suspended.

When you lapse to the snapshot, you reject all the modifications made to the virtual machine since you last took that snapshot. Employ the Revert and Snapshot switches on the Workstation toolbar to get a snapshot and then go back to it when you want to.

You will be able to take a fresh snapshot whenever you want to. Whenever you do this, you will replace the preceding snapshot. Thus, you will be able to have simply snapshot at one time.

What will be captured by the Snapshot?

The snapshot will capture the complete form of the virtual machine at the point in time when you take that snapshot. This comprises of:

  • The settings of the virtual machine.
  • The state of each and every one of the virtual machine’s hard disks.
  • The contents of the virtual machine’s memory.

When you come back to the snapshot, you will be able to return all the above mentioned items to the status they were in when you first took that shot.

In some special function configurations, you might want to eliminate one or a number of the virtual machine’s hard disks from the snapshot.

To eliminate a hard disk from the snapshot, select Edit > Virtual Machine Settings, choose the drive you wish to leave out, after that select the Advanced option.

On the advanced settings display, go to Independent. You will have the subsequent alternatives for the independent disk:

  • Persistent – changes are without delay and permanently printed to the hard disk
  • Non-persistent – changes are rejected when you turn off or go back to the snapshot.

Use CloudBacko Pro to backup VMware Virtual Machines

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For an Error-free VMware Backup, Remember to…

blod-image-square-20141207VMware backup and recovery procedures are not without their challenges; the simplest mistake can compromise your essential data. This article will inform you about some of these common mistakes so you can have an error-free backup. To make your job easier, you can utilize CloudBacko; it can help you backup your VMware effortlessly. Here are some of the most important considerations when backing up VMs:

Never Use a Guest OS to Backup

Backing up your virtual machines through a guest operating system is not exactly a mistake; it does work pretty well. We are mentioning it here because it is one of the most inefficient ways to backup your VMware. When you use a guest OS to backup, it draws increased resources, which is a waste.

VM Snapshots aren’t Backups

VM snapshots are useful for restoring your virtual machine to a prior state. You can take several snapshots of a virtual machine and use them as restoration points, but they shouldn’t be used as a primary backup method. Once you have restored your virtual machine to a previous point, using a snapshot, it cannot be reverted back to its present state. This can create unwanted issues, so it is better to have a primary backup setup and use VM snapshots as secondary backups.

Scheduling has to be Meticulous

Backing up a virtual machine will eat up the resources of the host. If you run multiple backups at the same time, your data may get compromised. To avoid this, you should schedule your backup to limit any simultaneous backups. You should monitor your VMs performance to determine the over-usage of resources; lack of resources will make VMs sluggish. You can also look at the performance statistics for the determination of any performance issues.

From the information above, you can glean that resources are very important for virtual machine backups. To keep your backups running like a well oiled machine, you should provide more resources to your VMs and backup servers then they need. And for seamless backups, utilize CloudBacko’s myriad features.

How to select a VMware/Hyper-V virtual machine backup tool

How to select VMware Hyper-V

Virtualization technology opens up new grounds for IT infrastructure administration and management, as well as new requirements for backing up the mission critical business data. Backing up for virtual machine is different from physical servers. Virtual machines can be moved from one host to another so you can move the host to guest OS mapping. Many virtual infrastructures are set up quickly and teared down.
IT system admins need to understand the specific requirements in their infrastructure, and learn the latest technologies on how it can optimally protect the virtual infrastructure. The following guide lists requirements of backup tools which applies for both VMware Hypervisor and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual environments.

1) Use a tool that supports both image-based and file-level backups

A full image backup is essential for backing up the virtual machines, as it encapsulate the entire virtual machine into a snapshot “image”. The backup software should cooperate with the virtualization software so that the backup software is backing up a stable snapshot rather than an actively used volume.
At the same time, the backup software should also support file-level backup. File-level backup is important as it helps to easily recover individual files, subdirectories or entire drives. It’s easy to implement and good for file server.

2) Use a tool that provides incremental block-level backups

Block-level backup feature can greatly reduce the amount of backup data transferred and stored. Only changed blocks of virtual machine disk files are backed up but those changed blocks can be combined with the original full to provide the most recent current image-level backup.
VMware provides the Changed Block Tracking (CBT) technology which can perform incremental backup. Virtual machines running on ESX/ESXi hosts can track disk sectors that have changed. If any blocks were changed since the last backup, Changed Block Tracking tags them and stores the information in a CTK file. CBT tells the Cloudbacko only to copy these changed blocks, avoiding copies of the entire VM.

CloudBacko utilizes this technology which can greatly reduce backup image size, hence using less cloud resources and network bandwidth. With this feature you can enjoy faster backup and restore.

3) Ensure offsite storage feature is available

Use a tool that provides offsite storage such as cloud storage. Check that the tool can connect to the cloud storage you are using or planning to use. As cloud storage services are plentiful, review the service cost model and reliability.
Cloud storage has the advantages of making content accessible anytime, anywhere, while shifting infrastructure maintenance tasks to cloud service provider. System can be easily set up to be fault redundant. Data and hardware redundancy offers an dramatic decrease the chance of your business-critical systems experiencing an outrage.
CloudBacko is designed for cloud backup from the start. CloudBacko can back up to multiple destinations, including Amazon S3, AWS compatible storages, Google Cloud Storage, Google Drive, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, OpenStack, Rackspace, FTP / SFTP sites, external USB drive, and local / mapped network drives.

4) Restore should be FAST

For those who have experience administering backup data, backup is only first part of the story.  Only after the backup can be restored successfully in a reasonable time frame, the backup job can be called complete. To ensure backup sets are in good shape, restore tests should be done frequently. Test if the restore can be completed in a reasonable time frame.

5) Use a tool that have compression

Compression is another way to make backup faster, hence saving backup time and storage space. Compression should be employed in the backup software to reduce the size of backup data repositories.

6) Backup applications

Safeguard data as well as applications. A virtualization backup tool should ensure applications inside VM are backed up. Not only application data or files are copied, but application states should have integrity that you will be able to restore them.
CloudBacko supports backing up Microsoft Exchange Server (EDB and mail level backups), Microsoft SQL Server, VMware vSphere ESXi (both Paid and Free versions), Microsoft Hyper-V, Lotus Domino, Lotus Notes, Oracle Database, MySQL, Windows System, Windows System State, as well as Files in desktops and laptops.

7) Keep cost under control

Consider your backup needs and match your requirements to the features of the backup tool. Vendors with enormous feature sets with a hefty price may be an overkill for small business users. Know your backup goals can easily keep your cost under control.
CloudBacko is trusted by many small business to perform backup and restore for their mission-critical business data. The one-time license fee includes lifetime free unlimited software upgrades.

Conclusion

CloudBacko offers the best-in-town price for advanced virtualization backup features. Download trial here.