Best Free VMware Backup Solution to Protect VMs Easily

VMware Backup

This post was most recently updated on October 8th, 2022

VMware vSphere and Workstation are the most popular type-1 and type-2 hypervisors. They are used by thousands of people every day for developments, tests, and other operations on virtual machines. It is essential to choose a suitable protection measure for the data generated.

Regular virtual machine backup is a recognized way to ensure VM data security and further promote work efficiency. The backups should be independent and complete, preferably including the entire virtual machine and its virtual environment you deployed.

However, unlike databases, there is no official backup option available in either VMware Workstation or vSphere. It was once provided by VMware Data Protection (VDP), an official VMware software. But since VDP was deprecated in vSphere 6.5, now your options are limited to some built-in features and third-party software that uses vStorage APIs.

For a small number of VMs created on VMware Workstation, the requirements for backup are relatively less demanding. Users can use the built-in features that come with the hypervisor, for example, export VM as OVF template.

However, for VMware ESXi which manage a large amount of VMs for development or testing, the requirements for backups will be more demanding, such as backup automation, or minimal downtime, etc. These requirements cannot be met with the built-in options. Therefore, image-level enterprise backup solution that can centrally manage backup and restore the entire virtual machine would be a better choice.

An efficient and free VMware ESXi backup solution

Type-1 hypervisors like VMware ESXi often means more efficient resource utilization and a larger number of virtual machines. Obviously the one VM at a time methods are wasteful of productivity. Centralized management can be helpful, and in addition, automation can also significantly improve productivity.

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If you are looking for an efficient way to protect your large number of VMs on VMware ESXi, you can try the free VMware backup solution — AOMEI Cyber Backup. It allows you to centrally manage the data protection of all VMs on your VMware ESXi or Hyper-V host, and simplifies the process with intuitive GUI interface. With simple clicks you can easily create a complete and automatically executed backup task that covers multiple VMs.

How to backup VMware ESXi virtual machines step by step

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions. To get started, you will need to bind your VMware ESXi host for authorization. Once authorized you will not need to repeat this step anymore, and you are free to manage the data protection of all VMs on the host without installing an agent on each of them.

1. Create backup task

Navigate to Backup Task and click + Create New Task, it will pop up an intuitive wizard for you to set up.

2. Set task name and type

You can provide a unique name for this backup task, or just use the default numbered name. And then confirm the VMware ESXi Backup option is selected.

3. Select VMs to backup

Select your VMware ESXi host and VMs to backup, you can cover running VMs in tasks to perform hot backup.

4. Specify storage path

Select a local folder or a network path to store the VMware ESXi VM backups.

5. Set up backup schedule (Optional)

Click Schedule and specify to perform full/differential/incremental backup on a daily/weekly/monthly basis for automatic execution. Then you can click Start Backup.

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Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately, for later restoring, progress checking, or schedule changing. You can restore from any restore points listed clearly in History Versions.

How to backup VMs on VMware Workstation

If you use VMware Workstation, and manage a small number of virtual machines, then you may want a simple built-in way to perform backups.

Manually download VM files: the most simple and direct way to backup your VMs. You can simply create an instantly usable copy of the VM by redeploy the downloaded virtual disk files and the configuration files.

Export VM to OVF template: OVF template supports the exchange of virtual appliances across products and platforms, and since the OVF files are compressed, you can gain faster downloads.

Clone VM: a convenient way to create multiple same VMs. There are 2 kinds of clone, a full clone takes longer time to create. But if you create a linked clone, the cloned VM may be unusable if the parent VM fails.

Guest-level backup: backup files, disks, or systems inside the guest machine just like a physical machine, but not the entire VM. It allows for granular recovery, but usually requires the advance creation of a new VM.

All the above 3 methods only allow backup operations for one virtual machine at a time. This may be sufficient for a small number of virtual machines on VMware Workstation, however, for a large number of VMs on VMware ESXi, or even a datacenter, a more specialized and efficient method is required.


Backup is one of the most important parts of VM data management. However, as the number of VMs created varies, the method to backup VMware ESXi is different from the ones to protect VMware Workstation.

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To manage multiple VMs on VMware ESXi, you need an efficient automatic backup software. In this regard, you can try AOMEI Cyber Backup for free.

Michelle Gram Smith
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