Backup VMs! Comparison of Free Backup Software

• Storage   • Virtualisation

I searched and compared the offerings to backup VMs on the Internet so you don’t have to.

As they say, you don’t need a backup until you need a backup. For me, I have to backup two VMs (Domain Controller & pfSense) that are not stored on my ZFS pools in case of a drive failure. They are currently running off 120GB Intel 520 SSDs that are local datastores in ESXi. The reason for this is that napp-it (my ZFS software) has trouble when it cannot connect to its domain controller or establish a proper network connection. Therefore both of these need to power on before napp-it and thus why they cannot be stored on a ZFS pool (as I am running an All-In-One configuration).

From my search I found 7 reputable free products that can be used to backup VMs in ESXi. They are:

The Comparison

PRODUCT OS RAM VMs INCREMENTAL BACKUP REMOTE STORAGE NOTIFICATIONS SCHEDULING OTHER
Veeam Windows 4GB Unlimited No Windows File Explorer to choose No No  
Nakivo Windows, Linux, OVA 4GB 2 Yes CIFS Email with PDF reports Yes NFR License is unlimited VMs
UniTrends Windows, OVA 4GB Unlimited Yes No Email Yes  
VSquare Windows Not stated. My tests show 2GB is enough Unlimited Yes Windows Drive Mapping Email with PDF reports Yes Gmail TLS is not working at the moment.
ThinWare Windows Not stated. Unlimited No Windows File Explorer to choose Email With Windows Task Scheduler Free license requires a request to be made
ghettoVCB ESXi N/A Unlimited No Depends on what you can mount into ESXi Email With Crontab Simple solution that can be built into ESXi
XSIBackup Linux N/A Unlimited Yes (rsync) Depends on what you can mount Email With Cron Script with no GUI

Conclusion

  • From my tests I can chose VSquare over the other products as it had ticked almost all my boxes. The Administration Console did crash on me a few times I would admit. I would have preferred if it ran on Linux as well.
  • If not the limit of 2 VMs on Nakivo I would have gone with instead but I’m trying to look to the future where this could hold me back.
  • I don’t understand why some programs did not have the ability to manually schedule backup tasks, to me that would be the most important feature to have.
  • ghettoVCB and XSIBackup are just scripts which perform copy pasta. They do work though so don’t doubt them if you are in need of some RAM or something smaller