Daily Archives: February 7, 2019


Review Altaro VM Backup V8 2

In this blogpost I’m going to take a closer look to the latest version of Altaro VM Backup.  Altaro is a loyal sponsor of vWorld.nl for some years now and I’m using their product since version 6. Recently Altaro released their latest version (V8) and I thought that would be a great time to post about it!

When you have any questions please leave a comment!

Introduction

Altaro VM Backup was founded in 2009 and was one of the first with a VM Backup product for Hyper-V.  Now 10 years later…, the product has made several improvements and is now used by over 40,000 businesses all over the world. The product supports both Hyper-V and VMware Hypervisors and has backup integrations for Microsoft Azure offsite backup repositories (!). Especially the support for Microsoft Azure offsite storage is a nice feature! There are not many other backup vendors out there who offer this functionality.

More info about how to use Azure for Offsite Cloud Backup in Altaro VM Backup here.

You can find out more about the features of Altaro VM Backup here.

Why Altaro

Altaro simplifies the backup and recovery experience by removing the traditional complexity. The user interface is very easy to use. For example, adding backup repositories is a simple drag and drop process and running backup jobs has been designed so that you simply select the VM’s you would like to back up and click the red button “Take Backup”.

During the version upgrades and the several improvements, Altaro VM Backup keeps their easy to use GUI and doesn’t require extensive support & training. My experience is that any system administrator with simple backup knowledge has enough knowledge to install, configure and troubleshoot Altaro VM Backup.

When you need support, you can easily contact Altaro (telephone/mail/chat) and my own experience is that they respond quickly and adequate. I’m curious about your experiences, please leave a comment!

Pricing

Altaro has an interesting pricing strategy, offering a per host license and not the traditional per CPU license(!). This simplifies the licensing process making it easy for especially SMB customers. The overall cost is of note and could possibly be one of the most affordable backup and recovery products on the market.

  • Standard – per host, but limited to 5 VMs
  • Unlimited – per host no limit on the number of VM’s (Exchange item restore, deduplication, and boot from backup.
  • Unlimited Plus – access to Cloud Management Console, Backup to Azure, Continuous Data Protection (CDP), and WAN-optimized replication.

I’m using the Unlimited Plus license btw 😊😊

Continuous Data Protection (CDP)

One of the most useful features added to Altaro VM Backup is CDP. Since each VM has a different role in IT infrastructure, backing up once a day is not enough in many cases. By enabling t CDP for your ‘vital’ VMs, you can achieve better Recovery Point Objective (RPO) results. The options for taking a backup starts from 12 hours and can be reduced to 5 minutes. Although you can enable CDP for all VMs of a host, it’s best to use it only for those that need it.

Things to consider with CDP:

  • Maximum frequency depends on resource capacity and throughput.
  • Large amounts of change on a virtual machine could cause the CDP frequency to be reduced.
  • Enabling multiple VM’s on high-frequency CDP could result in Hypervisor performance degradation.
  • Storage should be considered when completing more frequent backups (CDP).

Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) Archiving

GFS now enables you to archive backup versions rather than deleting backups that pass a retention window.

With GFS Archiving enabled, Altaro VM Backup will keep:

  • 1 backup per week for 12 weeks
  • 1 backup per month for 12 months
  • 1 backup per year for 2 years

Point to note, you can still use retention policies, this feature has not been removed. Essentially, you are able to configure three separate backup cycles to store three new backup versions every week, every month and every year. This enables you to retain weekly, monthly and yearly backup versions outside of the retention policy. In previous versions, you were only able to delete old backups not “Archive Old Backups”

Change Block Tracking

The use of Change Block tracking reduces the backup time by scanning the virtual machine for any changes (on block level). This decreases the backup duration from hours to minutes. There have been many improvements resolving the challenge relating to rebooting hypervisors.

CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 leverages Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) on the hosts. VSS has been part of all versions of Microsoft Windows for over a decade and is extremely reliable in maintaining a point-in-time snapshot of a specific volume.

CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 no longer requires the installation of a kernel-mode filesystem driver to track changes. The previous method of using filesystem drivers in VM Backup may affect I/O performance on some systems, and this will now be completely avoided with CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2.

With CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, change tracking keeps working reliably across host reboots, system upgrades etc. CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 also fully supports VMs migrating across cluster nodes and there is no longer the need to perform a full scan when a VM migrates or changes state etc.

Boot from Backup

This is an interesting feature… Through the boot from backup section, you can start a VM directly from the backup location without having to restore it using the normal procedure. In this case, there are two types, Verification Mode and Recovery Mode. Using this feature you can quickly be up and running with your VM.

Concurrent Backup and Restore Operations

Parallel backup and restore operations have been added preventing queuing jobs like an offsite backup copy. You can now take offsite copies and restore backups without the delay of any scheduled backup or CDP operations.

WAN-Optimized Replication

Version 8 of Altaro VM Backup introduces WAN-Optimized Replication enabling users to replicate

VM’s (ongoing copy) to a remote site. This allows It admins to failover mission-critical systems to a remote site. This new feature enables businesses to be back up and running with minimal downtime if a disaster strikes or major incident occurs, hence reducing the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) as much as possible.

Things to consider with Replication:

  • You need to have the same version Hypervisor at both the local and remote site.
  • The maximum replication frequency is 5 minutes.
  • You can only use local disks for replication, network shares are not currently supported.
  • 2008R2 Hyper-V hosts are not supported.
  • If the last successful replication version is not equal to the last successful backup version, then recovery is required.

WAN Optimized Replication is currently only available with Hyper-V (VMware support is coming soon)

Summary

Altaro VM Backup has clearly listened to the industry’s backup and recovery pain points and challenges. They have created a product that is simple to use, effective and used by many. The product is feature rich and offers three simple tiers for pricing (Standard, Unlimited and Unlimited Plus).

I have found some product limitations, however, this does not impede the product’s ability to back-up the majority of SMB businesses Hyper-V & VMware infrastructures. Altaro clearly invests heavily into development and I do look forward to seeing features like cloud replication in 2019.

You can download Altaro VM Backup and enjoy forever free backup for your VMs. Any questions, please use the comments box below….

More information

Altaro 10 min setup & configure

What’s new in Altaro VM Backup V8

An Introduction to Altaro VM Backup V8