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Backing up and restoring Virtual Server

To back up Virtual Server, you can:

  • Back up by using software that supports the Volume Shadow Copy Service.
  • Manually back up its various configuration files and resource files by using standard file backup software. To back up a virtual machine in this manner, the virtual machine must be turned off.
  • Back up a running virtual machine by using live backup software on the guest operating system.

Restoring Virtual Server involves reinstalling Virtual Server and copying the backed up files into the appropriate locations in the file system.

Back up by using software the supports Volume Shadow Copy Service

When you use backup software that works with the new Volume Shadow Copy Service writer for Virtual Server to back up your host operating system, you can back up Virtual Server and its running virtual machines without needing to install backup agents inside the guest operating system of the virtual machines.

The optimal way to archive Virtual Server is to use backup software that is specifically designed to work with Virtual Server. This software supports the Volume Shadow Copy Service and the new Virtual Server VSS Writer service (VS Writer). For more information about software designed to work with Virtual Server, see the Virtual Server Partners Web site.

VS Writer is a service that manages backup shadow copies of the volumes that contain the virtual machines (and their .vhd files and volumes that contain the Virtual Server configuration files), for purposes of data archival. VS Writer implements a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer for Virtual Server. VSS requestors can use the VS Writer to back up and restore virtual machines.

Backup software that supports Virtual Server offers three main advantages:

  • It minimizes the number of steps involved in archive and restore operations.
  • It minimizes downtime and ensures the consistency of the data being archived or restored.
  • For guest operating systems that support VSS, such as Windows Server 2003, Virtual Server provides the ability to perform a live backup of the virtual machines, in addition to ensuring the consistency of the data being archived or restored.
noteNote
If you use software that does not support Virtual Server, the process for archiving and the amount of downtime incurred differs depending on the type of software. You should consult the software manufacturer for more details.

The following procedures provide general instructions for archiving Virtual Server when using backup software that supports Virtual Server. When you use backup software that supports Virtual Server, it interacts with the VS Writer and Volume Shadow Copy Service to create a shadow copy of the data and then create a backup of the data from the volume shadow copy.

For instructions about how to use specific backup software, see the documentation for the backup software.

To back up Virtual Server by using backup software that supports Virtual Server
  1. In the console tree of the backup program, browse to Microsoft Virtual Server. Expand Virtual Server.

  2. Select the virtual machines that you want to archive.

  3. Select the Virtual Server configuration for archive.

  4. Select the backup type.

  5. Select the media to which you want to back up the data.

  6. Start the backup.

Planning considerations

To meet both your data archive and disaster recovery requirements, identify all the components that must be backed up to meet both your data archival and disaster recovery requirements. With Virtual Server, you can address both archive and disaster recovery requirements by archiving a full backup of the computer that hosts Virtual Server. When you perform this type of archive, you are effectively archiving your virtual machine. To enable a full restore of Virtual Server, you must back up the following components:

  • System State data
  • Program files
  • Virtual Server configuration files
  • Virtual machine data

For more information about planning to back up and restore data, see Planning to back up and restore data.

Back up all configuration and resource files

By using file backup software on the host operating system, you can back up the Virtual Server configuration and resource files at any time, with the following exception: You can only back up virtual machine configuration (.vmc) files and saved-state (.vsv) files, along with the associated virtual hard disk (.vhd) files for virtual machines that are turned off or in a saved state. For a list of the Virtual Server configuration and resource files, and for file locations, see Virtual Server folders and files.

noteNote
.vsv files have to be restored and used with the same version of Virtual Server that was used to back them up.

The reason that virtual machines must be turned off or saved to be backed up by using standard file backup software is that part of the virtual machine state information is stored in memory. The state information in memory, plus the state of the virtual hard disk files, along with the state of the configuration file, makes up the current state of the virtual machine. When you back up the files for a running virtual machine, they are most likely in an inconsistent state. If you back them up in this state from the host operating system, user data might be corrupted in the backup copy.

CautionCaution
Do not put virtual machines that are running domain controllers into a saved state. In addition, be sure to properly shut down domain controllers to prevent replication errors.

Back up running virtual machines

You can back up a running virtual machine in the same manner as a physical computer by installing backup software on the guest operating system and performing the backup. If your organization has a standard backup process for physical computers, you can use the same process for your virtual machines.

The disadvantage of using this approach is that for each virtual machine, you must obtain and install the backup software. In addition, backing up all virtual machines may take longer by using this approach than by backing them up from the host operating system.

Restore Virtual Server

As previously mentioned, you perform a restoration by reinstalling Virtual Server and copying the backed up files into the appropriate locations in the file system. When you do this, make sure that you are using the backed-up versions of Options.xml and the NETWORK SERVICE file, or Virtual Server and virtual machines may not function as expected. Also remember to use a backed-up version of ServerPaths.xml so that you do not need to reconfigure all of your Virtual Server paths.

For more information about installing Virtual Server, see Installing Virtual Server.

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