Virtual machine (VM) backup software is essential for any organization that uses virtualization to maintain operational efficiency and flexibility. VMs rely on software instead of hardware, so they are more sensitive to bugs than physical servers.
Individual processes can crash if one of them has a bug, and since VMs run several processes at once, it’s common for one of those processes to take others with it when it crashes. These kinds of errors also mean VMs are at risk of issues like memory leaks or software errors.
VM backup software is important because it saves a copy of your virtual machine files that can be restored if a VM fails or is compromised. It also copies the VM configuration files so you can restore the whole backup if something goes wrong or you need to recreate the same environment to test something.
The best VM backup software will be the one that provides the most comprehensive protection for your virtual environment. When shopping for VM backup software, however, it’s important to keep the unique needs of your organization and virtual environment in mind. Doing so will allow you to quickly and easily recover from any type of disaster, whether it’s a hardware failure, data corruption, or even a ransomware attack.
Also read: What is a Server Backup?
Top VM backup software solutions
The top VM backup products include the following:
- Veeam Backup & Replication
- Altaro VM Backup
- NAKIVO Backup & Replication
- Veritas NetBackup
- Cove Data Protection/N-Able Backup
- IBM Spectrum Protect
- Vembu BDR Suite
- Commvault Backup & Recovery
- Cohesity DataProtect
- Unitrends Backup
Veeam Backup & Replication
Veeam Backup and Replication (VBR) helps organizations reduce storage costs, increase the service level of virtual machines, reduce disaster recovery time, and improve data management practices.
Veeam’s backup solution is engineered to support the hybrid cloud future with an expanded range of offerings—VBR can provide backup for virtual, physical, and cloud-based systems. The software takes full advantage of VMware’s APIs for enterprise scalability, advanced replication, file-level restoration across multiple operating systems, and advanced recovery.
VBR is less expensive than comparable enterprise backup, restore, and recovery solutions because it requires no additional software, agents, or utilities. Veeam’s solution includes advanced features such as guest file system indexing, multiple backup modes, one-click file restore, recovery verification, and support for multiple hypervisors.
Users have access to unlimited storage through Veeam’s Scale-Out Backup Repository and Veeam Cloud Tier. You can also test and automate backup strategies to ensure mission-critical applications remain protected at all times.
VBR specializes in support for VMware vSphere but can also support Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Integrates with Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and Nutanix AHV environments
- Veeam Disaster Recovery Orchestrator creates workflows to automate recovery operations
- On-Demand Sandbox enables you to test, troubleshoot, and install new software on a VM in an isolated virtual lab environment
- Scalable Backup Repository supports multi-tier data storage while providing an appropriate way to manage backup storage
- Standalone Console enables service providers to install required services and removes the need for a remote desktop connection
- Backup and recovery in the cloud for AWS, Azure, and GCP
- Fast recovery at scale for VMs, apps, and physical servers
- Incremental backups hold copies of files from previous backups and ensure the security and integrity of stored data
- Capacity planning enables you to estimate storage requirements to store backup files
- Veeam Backup & Replication is complicated and challenging
- Backup restores get more difficult when we get a new physical machine
Veeam Backup & Replication (part of the Veeam Platform) is available as a subscription or a perpetual license. Veeam Backup Essentials for up to 50 workloads starts at US$6.67/month (or US$80/year/license) for a one-year subscription. A five-license package is required at a minimum.
A free custom demo and a 30-day free trial are available upon request.
Altaro VM Backup
Altaro VM Backup prides itself as a hassle-free VM backup and replication tool that is intuitive and easy to set up. It can be installed in less than 15 minutes without complex configuration requirements, so your IT team can reserve resources and begin backing up and restoring tasks immediately.
Altaro VM Backup includes everything you need to protect your VMs, including a user-friendly interface, robust backup and recovery features, and 24/7 support.
Previously, Altaro focused its backup and restoration product on Hyper-V, but it now supports vSphere Hypervisor as well. This solution also integrates with cloud storage services like Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, and Wasabi to make retrieving data a quick and easy task. Similarly, the Augmented Inline Deduplication process can quickly perform backups while reducing storage needs and backup times.
Backups can be scheduled to run automatically on a daily basis, at minute-based intervals, or even continually to ensure all recoveries are up-to-date. It also monitors backup health; when corruption is detected, Altaro VM Backup can repair damaged blocks during the next backup.
- Continuous Data Protection allows you to run backups continually
- Concurrency enables you to back up several VMs at once to various backup sites, reducing the length of your defined backup window
- Support for VMware vCenter and Cluster Shared Volumes
- Offers AES-256 data encryption by default to all offsite backup copies
- Maintains multiple backup restore points rather than recovering from a most recent backup
- Backups can be scheduled as needed, and backup retention policies for specific VMs can be specified
- Backup to other public clouds such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, and others
- Good value for money
- The 2 VM free edition does not include a single file restore
- No support for restoring a single SQL database; you have to restore the full virtual machine
Altaro offers four licenses:
- Free (perpetual VM backup for 2 VMs/host)
- Standard (perpetual license)
- Unlimited (perpetual license)
- Unlimited Plus Edition (subscription-based pricing for a minimum of 5 VMs)
Pricing is customized based on the license type you choose and the number of VMs or hosts you wish to back up.
To test this product, consider requesting a free 30-day trial of Altaro VM Backup (Unlimited Plus Edition) or download Altaro’s free virtual machine software.
NAKIVO Backup & Replication
NAKIVO Back & Replication is a quick and reliable VMware backup solution for small and medium-sized businesses. IT teams can automate VM protection, test backups instantly, and quickly recover entire VMs, files, and objects from deduplicated backups. You can avoid spending money on expensive standalone DR software by automating and orchestrating disaster recovery.
Nakivo offers Full P2V Recovery, which creates virtual clones of physical machines. It can integrate with the affordable and flexible cloud storage platform Wasabi, so you can send backups and copies of machines, Oracle databases, and Amazon EC2 instances. Additionally, the new Linux Workstation Backup utility can quickly recover workstations and restore information and objects from backups.
- VM protection is automated and tests backup are performed in real time
- Site Recovery, VM Flash Boot, and P2V recovery are all automated
- Supports Data Migration and Document Management in vSphere 7
- Supports incremental backups and backup to tape
- Instant recovery of granular data from image-based backups
- Reduces the severity of ransomware attacks
- Simple to set up in both physical and virtual machines
- Supports replication of VMs to other data centers
- Excellent technical support is readily available
- Easy to duplicate computers and generate email notifications when a backup fails
- Scheduled jobs are simple to set up, monitor, and configure
- No calendar dashboard feature for backup job scheduling in lower subscription tiers
- Integrating Transporter Updates using the Web UI is a bit tricky and challenging
NAKIVO offers a few options for perpetual license pricing:
- US$199 per socket for Pro Essentials
- US$299 per socket for Enterprise Essential
- US$399 per socket for Pro
- US$599 per socket for Enterprise
- Request a Quote for Enterprise Plus
To get started with NAKIVO Backup & Replication, you can request a demo, or download a full-featured free trial.
Veritas NetBackup, formerly known as Symantec NetBackup, is an on-premise backup solution with enterprise-level backup and recovery capabilities. NetBackup offers integrated deduplication, fast file recovery, backup and recovery for major applications, and easy installation.
It’s a strong contender for companies needing a solution that can manage both their hosted machines and virtual machines in one place.
With NetBackup, your virtual systems can leverage the same standard corporate backup and restore strategies as your physical systems. This product features a single administration panel that allows users to manage both physical and cloud-based deployments swiftly.
It also gives all environments uniform data protection—it encrypts all data using TLS and AES 256 encryption for strong security in both hybrid and multi-cloud systems.
- Supports several virtual environments including Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, Nutanix AHV, and Red Hat Virtualization
- Allows for quick file recovery and backup with unified data security
- Ensures enterprise-level resiliency and protects your data from ransomware
- Support for two-factor authentication and anomaly detection with AI/ML
- Helps with granular recovery from image-based backups
- Data is protected in a hybrid and multi-cloud environment
- Snapshot orchestration is supported
- Easy to use with centralized backup solution and easily scaled out if Netbackup appliance is used
- Flexible, hardware-independent licenses
- Independent storage solution that can easily integrate with every database
- Orchestrated backup and recovery for cloud environments including AWS and Azure without deploying any agent
- SAP HANA and MAXDB application templates may be introduced instead of scripting
- Improvements in tape management are needed
- Normally supports backups of large databases, it should also supports small databases
- Less than ideal reporting capabilities
Contact the Veritas sales team for pricing.
Cove Data Protection/N-Able Backup
Cove Data Protection (previously N-Able Backup) is a software-as-a-service platform that lets users back up entire drives or specific backup types, such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. This virtualization backup method offers the benefit of taking a snapshot of the entire virtual environment, rather than just the virtual server.
The system also saves the most recent transfers to allow for a speedy recovery. A backup administration interface is included in the Backup package, through which you may also recover and replicate a server using the saved data.
- Supports VMware and Hyper-V to backup virtual machine environments
- TrueDelta technology allows you to back up modifications rather than full files
- Backup Manager allows you to archive a series of backups sessions on-premises or in the cloud
- Encrypt data on-premises and in the cloud with AES 256 or 448-bit Blowfish
- Backup and recovery for individual files as well as entire virtual environments
- Protects against ransomware while storing backups locally
- Combine on-premises and cloud backups in a hybrid environment
- User-friendly dashboard
- Larger nodes can take a long time to back up
- A centralized log reader is not available to track issues
Contact N-Able Sales for pricing. To start with N-Able Backup, try a 30-day free trial.
IBM Spectrum Protect
IBM Spectrum Protect was built as a comprehensive data protection and recovery platform that’s easy to deploy and maintain thanks to its agentless architecture. Companies also have a wide variety of cloud and on-premises storage options to choose from.
IBM Spectrum Protect can help organizations save time and money by providing a single point of control for all data, thereby reducing the need for multiple data protection solutions. It also provides robust data protection capabilities, making it an ideal solution for organizations of all sizes.
Some notable features are progressive incremental backups, policy-based management, advanced archive management, source and target deduplication, compression for reduced storage, continuous data protection, and built-in cloud integration.
Part of what makes this VM backup tool so valuable for enterprises is its scalability—Spectrum Protect can manage billions of objects per backup.
- Support for two-factor authentication, encryption, and immutable object storage
- Enables incremental backups, compression, and deduplication
- Data lifecycle automation feature leverages existing backup data to eliminate the need for additional copies
- Reduces operational costs by simplifying and consolidating data protection for virtual environments, physical file servers, and other applications
- Provides data replication strategies including node replication to a remote site, database backups, and device replication to a standby server
- Cost-effective, built-in cloud integration that provides secure backup in the cloud
- Reporting capabilities could be improved
- Some users were dissatisfied with customer support
- Replication service could be enhanced to be always-on
- Monthly licenses start at US$60 for ten managed virtual machines (VMs) or per TB
- Perpetual licenses start at US$2000 per ten managed virtual machines (VMs) or per TB
To start with IBM Spectrum Protect, try a 30-day free trial or a free online demo.
Vembu BDR Suite
Vembu Backup & Disaster Recovery (BDR) Suite comes with several capabilities that help with backing up virtual machines. You may also quickly recover virtual machines, mount discs, and restore backed-up data, all of which help you keep your business running smoothly and save downtime.
In the event of a disaster, this also helps users preserve data security and availability. Additionally, you can back data to offsite locations or the Vembu Cloud for enhanced security.
- Comprehensive backup solution for physical, virtual, cloud, and other applications such as Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, Microsoft Outlook, and MySQL
- Automated verification of backups to ensure that the backup is recoverable
- Encryption, compression, and deduplication are all built-in
- Backups using Log Truncation that is application-aware
- Cross-hypervisor migration support (V2V) and live migration using an instant boot VM
- Backups of disc images and files are both possible
- On-premise, off-premise and hybrid cloud deployment options are all available
- Model of flexible licensing: Priced per CPU socket, virtual machine, or server
- Easy-to-use interface
- Excellent reporting capabilities
- Backup on network locations could be improved
- Troubleshooting logs can be cumbersome
- Updating the location of the backup server for clients needs to be improved in the client UI
Vembu offers five different subscription-based licenses for its BDR Suite:
- Standard Essentials (upto 10 sockets or 100 VMs): US$108/CPU-socket per annum
- Standard: US$216/CPU-socket per annum
- Enterprise Essentials (up to 10 sockets or 100 VMs): US$180/CPU-socket per annum
- Enterprise: US$360/CPU-socket per annum
Perpetual licenses are also available for a higher, one-time fee. To test the BDR Suite for yourself, you can request a free 30-day trial.
Rubrik provides backup, replication, and disaster recovery for VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Nutanix AHV. It also migrates VMs to the cloud for DR-related improvements.
Rubrik enables you to centrally manage all of your backup and recovery data, regardless of where it originates (hardware, software, cloud, or virtual). You may also set up rules for data backup, archival, disaster recovery, analytics, and replication from a single console.
- Support for VMware vSphere (ESXi), Microsoft Hyper-V, and Nutanix AHV
- Natively integrated continuous data protection for VM environments
- Intelligent policy engine helps automate and maintain compliance
- Supports immutable ransomware protection
- Support for multi-factor authentication
- Setup, deployment, and recovery are all simple and intuitive
- Instant recovery with a near-zero Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
- Immutable file system helps protect critical data
- With just a few policies, you can automate several backup jobs on-premises and cloud at once
- Difficult to pause individual VM backups once initiated
- No auto-discovery feature for SQL hosts
- Disk usage and other reporting functionalities have room for improvement
For pricing, please contact the Rubrik sales team. Sign up for a free trial or a live demo to get started with the Rubrik Zero Trust Data Security platform.
Commvault Backup & Recovery
Commvault Backup and Recovery provides enterprise-grade backup services for on-premise, cloud, and hybrid-cloud environments. Commvualt Backup & Recovery allows you to move your workload across all of your virtual machine environments regardless of location. The Commvault command center, a centralized and straightforward web-based administration panel, also provides full visibility into your virtual workloads.
- Simple, comprehensive backup and archiving for files, applications, databases, VMs, containers, and cloud environments
- Ransomware protection with immutable backups and instant recovery of VMs
- End-to-end encryption for both data in transit and data at rest
- Offers a solid foundation for managing snapshots
- Simple UI that provides centralized management for quick and detailed VM backups
- Well-organized, policy-based configurations for backups
- Supports deduplication of data to save storage space
- Easily integrates with ESXi and NetApp Storage solutions
- Supports direct data backup to cloud storage solutions such as Azure Blob and Amazon S3
- Taking VM backups on DAS (Direct Attached Storage) is a bit difficult
- To recover a single table, you’ll have to restore the entire database
For pricing, please contact the Commvault Sales Team. You may also request a Commvault Complete Data Protection 30-day trial.
Cohesity DataProtect enables sysadmins to back up, restore, manage, and analyze data that is spread across many environments. These include VMware vSphere, vSAN, VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), VMware Cloud on AWS, Microsoft Hyper-V, Nutanix AOS, Prism, and AHV.
It also provides application-consistent backup and recovery for containerized workloads, ensuring that modern infrastructure is well-protected. Cohesity works directly with Kubernetes to preserve persistent application metadata, protecting the complete app rather than just its contents.
Cohesity’s technology gives a consolidated view of all backups and analytics data, as well as central access to it. Cohesity was recognized as a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Solution for 2021.
- Simple and automated backup and recovery and eliminate legacy infrastructure silos
- Rapid recovery points and instant mass restore help reduce RPO (Recovery Point Objectives) to minutes
- Immutable snapshots using AES-256 encryption helps protect against ransomware
- Supports multi-factor authentication to protect against cyber threats
- Backup support for on-premises as well as cloud environments
- Native Kubernetes integrations
- When compared to the popular alternatives, there is more visibility into hardware consumption
- For new virtual machines, individual backup tasks include parameters that need less manual work
- Fast and easy setup process
- Active Directory backups and scale-out object storage for backups to the cloud
- More transparency into cloud data allotment would be beneficial
- Initially, reporting was a little sparse, but they have slowly improved in this area
- Generally more expensive than competitors
Perpetual and consumption-based subscription licenses are available from Cohesity. Contact the Cohesity sales team for customized pricing, and request a 30-day free trial of Cohesity’s Backup as a Service product.
Unitrends Backup by Kaseya is a comprehensive backup and recovery solution for businesses, MSPs, and IT teams. It integrates backup software and appliances, cloud backup, threat monitoring, and HIPAA and GDRP compliance management. Unitrends Backup is known for its VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer virtual backup appliances.
Unitrends Backup can be installed as a virtual backup appliance on any on-premises or cloud-based hardware. It safeguards your virtual machines and connects to Unitrends Cloud for archiving and disaster recovery.
You can use vSphere, Hyper-V, or Citrix XenServer to execute the virtual appliances as an on-premises backup solution. When it comes to cloud environments, Unitrends Backup is supported on Microsoft Azure and AWS S3 public clouds.
- Strong AI-based ransomware detection mechanism that alerts system administrator about a ransomware attack
- Unitrends Cloud integration for archiving and disaster recovery
- Job calendar is useful for planning backups
- A centralized management console called UniView allows you to manage endpoint backups, SaaS backups, and backup appliances
- It’s simple and quick to recover files at the file level
- An easy user interface allows for granular backup and recovery control
- Instant, complete, or file-level VM recovery
- Hypervisor-level protection for VMware vSphere, Hyper-V, and XenServer
- Task deployment is swift
- Instant VM recovery and schedule backups/archiving to meet RTO and RPO
- Compression, deduplication, and site-to-site backup replication
- Price may be prohibitive for some customers
- When scaling the backup solution, you’ll have to go with more backup appliances which can be costly for small-sized companies
To obtain pricing, contact the Unitrends sales team. You can also request a 30-day free trial of Unitrends Backup to get started.
Why is VM backup important?
Virtual machine backup is one of the most important virtualization admin tasks for several reasons.
First, VMs are the digital representations of physical computers that are essential for business operations. They hold sensitive data and critical applications and therefore require advanced protection. If these VMs are lost or corrupted, it can have a major impact on your business.
Second, it can be difficult and time-consuming to recreate the application(s) installed on VMs. This is especially true if you have a large number of VMs or a complex VM environment.
Finally, VMs are often used to store data that is subject to compliance regulations. This data must be protected to avoid costly fines and penalties.
VM backup helps ensure that your company’s data and applications are protected in the event of a system failure or data loss. Backups are an essential ingredient in a comprehensive business continuity strategy that helps keep your VMs safe and operational.
Once you know what you need to back up, it’s time to create the backup plan, implement it and test it periodically.
How to choose the right VM backup software
Virtual machine backup software is an essential part of a strong cybersecurity framework and comprehensive business continuity plan. However, it’s important to choose the right software that will meet your organization’s unique requirements.
If you only need to protect a few virtual machines, free backup software like Veeam’s Community Edition may suffice. The free version of Vembu’s BDR Suite may be another consideration—it allows you to back up and replicate up to 10 VMs. Alternatively, Altaro VM Backup’s free edition offers vSphere and Hyper-V backups for 2 VMs at no cost.
Veeam Backup and Replication and Cohesity Data Protect are strong solutions for enterprises—they both offer advanced features and are more suitable for bigger budgets.
For example, Veeam’s SureBackup feature performs live verification of backed-up VMs for malware and boots infected VMs from the backup in an isolated environment. This enables admins to spend more time on bigger priority issues. Additionally, Cohesity’s solution supports backup services for a wider range of virtual environments than some of the more affordable options.
Altaro VM Backup, Vembu BDR Suite, and NAKIVO Back & Replication offer a narrower set of features at a more affordable price point. Therefore, they are recommended solutions for SMBs with fewer virtual machines and physical servers to back up.
Read next: Top Server Backup Software & Solutions