Backup ESXi 5.x running virtual machine

Backup ESXi 5.x running virtual machine

Category : How-to

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ESXi does not provide an option to backup a running virtual machine, without paying VMware a substantial amount of money. You can get round this by turning off the guest and copying the VMDK however this requires downtime for the guest. You cannot copy the VMDK while the guest is running because the VMDK virtual disk cannot be copied while it is in use. As this is likely to be the boot disk for the virtual machine, stopping disk activity without turning the instance off is impossible. The below simple script creates a snapshot of the guest which forces the guest to write all new changes to a new file instead of writing them to the virtual disk. This frees the disk to be copied. Once the copy has completed, the snapshot is removed writing all changes since the backup started back to the virtual disk.

This script contains little error checking and requires a few conditions to be met in order to complete successfully.
• No device maps for physical disks must exist in the instance
• ‘Independent’ disks must not exist in the instance
• The parameters of the script must be completed correctly.

There are 2 lines in the script which must be configured. Open the script using a text editor and change the below variables to match your preferences.


Copy the script to the below location on your ESXi server. The file name of the script should be VMbackupBash E.G. /usr/bin/VMbackupBash

To run the script, type
The machine name must be the name of the folder in BASE_PATH which contains the instance to backup.

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