Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters

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Windows Server contains a great number of tools built into the operating system for management, monitoring and other functionality. Believe it or not, with Windows Server 2019, the traditional Windows Server Backup utility is still available. It has been around for years. With Windows Server 2012, Windows Server Backup actually received a face lift of sorts. With Windows Server 2012 in case you didn’t know, you can backup Hyper-V with Windows Server Backup. For simple backups of Hyper-V virtual machines, you can use Windows Server Backup for this purpose. There are limitations to be aware of. We will look at another free tool – Vembu BDR Suite Free edition that gives you much more functionality. It is great to know your options. Can you backup Hyper-V clusters VMs? Let’s look at free backup software for Hyper-V clusters.

Windows Server Backup for Hyper-V Clusters

Windows Server Backup is a Windows Feature that can easily be enabled for use with backing up Hyper-V virtual machines. Regarding the Windows Server Backup ability to backup Hyper-V virtual machines, it is important to note that you can only backup local Hyper-V VMs. In other words, you have to be on the Hyper-V host that is currently hosting a particular VM that you want to backup. This includes Hyper-V Clusters. It is not really “cluster aware” in the true sense.

After you enable the feature, it does not require a reboot and is available for use immediately following enabling the Feature.

Enable-the-Windows-Server-Backup-Feature-in-Windows-Server-2019 Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Enable the Windows Server Backup Feature in Windows Server 2019

Launch the utility using the wbadmin.msc command which launches the Windows Server Backup management console. You can launch either the Backup Schedule or the Backup Once job wizard to perform scheduled or ad-hoc backups of your Hyper-V server.

Lauching-either-the-backup-schedule-or-backup-once-wizard Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Launching either the backup schedule or backup once wizard

The Backup Once Wizard begins with the first screen being the Backup Options. Scheduled backups are greyed out since we are running the Backup once wizard. Click Next.

Creating-a-new-Backup-Once-Hyper-V-backup-job-with-different-options-selected Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Creating a new Backup Once Hyper-V backup job with different options selected

Since I am only wanting to backup Hyper-V VMs only, I am choosing Custom.

Selecting-a-custom-for-creating-a-Hyper-V-VM-backup-job Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Selecting a custom for creating a Hyper-V VM backup job

On the Select items for Backup screen, click the Add Items button.

Adding-new-items-to-the-backup-job-to-select-Hyper-V-VMs Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Adding new items to the backup job to select Hyper-V VMs

Select the specific Hyper-V VMs you want to backup under the Hyper-V node. Since the VM I am testing with is powered off, it is showing as “offline”. Click OK.

Selecting-a-Hyper-V-VM-to-be-included-in-the-Windows-Server-Backup-job Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Selecting a Hyper-V VM to be included in the Windows Server Backup job

You are returned back to the Select Items for Backup screen. You should now see your Hyper-V VM listed. Click Next.

Hyper-V-VM-selected-for-backup-in-Windows-Server-Backup-wizard Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Hyper-V VM selected for backup in Windows Server Backup wizard

I am choosing to backup to a Remote shared folder.

Selecting-the-destination-for-the-Hyper-V-VM-backup-in-Windows-Server-Backup Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Selecting the destination for the Hyper-V VM backup in Windows Server Backup

If you choose the remote shared folder, you will be asked to populate the location via a UNC path. I left the Inherit option selected.

Specifying-the-remote-destination-folder-for-network-backup Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Specifying the remote destination folder for network backup

On the confirmation screen you should see the VM listed. Simply click the Backup button to begin the ad-hoc backup.

Confirming-the-Hyper-V-VM-Backup-job-with-Windows-Server-Backup-wizard Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters

The Windows Server Backup of the Hyper-V VM begins.

Backup-progress-begins-with-the-Hyper-V-VM-backup-in-Windows-Server-Backup Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Backup progress begins with the Hyper-V VM backup in Windows Server Backup

The backup finishes successfully. If you are wondering why the data amount is so minimal, I was testing with a “blank” VM with nothing installed, simply for demonstration purposes.

The-Windows-Server-Backup-for-the-Hyper-V-VM-finishes-successfully Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
The Windows Server Backup for the Hyper-V VM finishes successfully

There are several limitations that are obvious here. This is a very basic backup wizard with no many options at all besides simply being able to choose the Hyper-V VM.

However, in relation to Hyper-V clusters, there is another limitation to note that will most likely be a deal breaker with Hyper-V cluster backups and that is Cluster Shared Volumes or CSVs.

Windows-Server-Backup-failure-for-VM-on-Cluster-Shared-Volume-CSV Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Windows Server Backup failure for VM on Cluster Shared Volume CSV

When I viewed the list of all failed files I see the following:

Application backup
Writer Id: {66841CD4-6DED-4F4B-8F17-FD23F8DDC3DE}
Component: 3694BA5D-33E0-438F-AD0B-00613AAEDF62
Caption : Online\win19_01
Logical Path:
Error : 80780175
Error Message : Component was skipped from volume shadow copy.

Detailed Error : 80780189
Detailed Error Message : Windows Backup cannot backup an application with files on a CSV volume.


The Hyper-V VMs are skipped due to residing on the CSV volume.

Use Vembu to Backup Hyper-V Clusters for Free

Vembu provides a great solution to be able to backup Hyper-V clusters for free. The way the Vembu BDR Suite free edition licensing works is the following:

Vembu BDR Suite comes with a 30 day of free trial with no restriction to any of its features and after the trial period, you can purchase the licenses framed for different editions such as Standard and Enterprise else, you can opt for the free edition of Vembu BDR Suite.

Let’s see how Vembu can easily backup Hyper-V VMs residing in a Hyper-V cluster configuration. You will simply need to have the FQDN of your Hyper-V cluster handy and Add Credentials to connect to the Hyper-V cluster.

Adding-the-Hyper-V-cluster-to-the-Vembu-BDR-Suite-server Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Adding the Hyper-V cluster to the Vembu BDR Suite server

You will see a confirmation for installing the Vembu Hyper-V agent on the Hyper-V cluster hosts. Click OK.

Confirming-the-Vembu-service-installation-on-the-Hyper-V-hosts Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Confirming the Vembu service installation on the Hyper-V hosts

After the agent installation completes, you should see the Hyper-V cluster listed. Click Backup to begin setting up a new Hyper-V cluster VM backup job.

Hyper-V-cluster-is-successfully-added-and-ready-to-create-backups Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Hyper-V cluster is successfully added and ready to create backups

This launches the backup wizard. You will see all of your hosts and the VMs available for backup. Here, I am selecting a Hyper-V cluster hosted VM for backup.

Choose-the-Hyper-V-cluster-VM-you-want-to-backup Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Choose the Hyper-V cluster VM you want to backup

On the Guest Processing screen, you can enable the Application Aware Processing functionality and set credentials for this process.

Choose-guest-processing-options-for-Hyper-V-cluster-VM Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Choose guest processing options for Hyper-V cluster VM

The scheduling screen allows setting the backup job schedule for the new Hyper-V cluster VM job.

Choose-scheduling-options-for-the-Hyper-V-cluster-VM-backup Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Choose scheduling options for the Hyper-V cluster VM backup

On the Settings screen configure the Retention Policies and the Vembu BDR Server Storage Pool. Additionally, you can set Encryption options there as well.

Configure-retention-policy-and-backup-storage-options-for-Hyper-V-cluster-VM Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Configure retention policy and backup storage options for Hyper-V cluster VM

Review the backup job settings and enter a name for the job.

Review-the-Hyper-V-cluster-VM-backup-job-options-and-name-the-job Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Review the Hyper-V cluster VM backup job options and name the job

Confirm the job creation for the Hyper-V cluster VM.

Message-that-backup-schedule-job-has-completed Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Message that backup schedule job has completed

The backup runs and finishes successfully.

Vembu-Backup-job-of-the-Hyper-V-cluster-VM-completes-successfully Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters
Vembu Backup job of the Hyper-V cluster VM completes successfully

Free Backup Software for Hyper-V Clusters

When you look for free backup software for Hyper-V clusters, you can use the native Windows Server Backup as of Windows Server 2012. However, there are nasty limitations with WSB with Hyper-V clusters. The two big ones on my list:

  • It isn’t really Hyper-V cluster aware – by design, you only see the Hyper-V VMs that reside locally to the Hyper-V host (that it has “ownership” of)
  • It doesn’t support CSVs – This is a huge nail in the coffin, as most who run Hyper-V clusters are going to be using CSV volumes for hosting their virtual machines

Vembu provides Free backups of Hyper-V Clusters with BDR Suite free edition that provides full features for (3) VMs after the trial expires. Also, it fully supports Cluster Shared Volumes. As shown in the screenshot, it is fully Hyper-V cluster aware, unlike the Windows Server Backup utility.

Check out Vembu BDR Suite and download a full-featured trial version that will convert to the free version after 30 days. Download here: https://www.vembu.com/vembu-bdr-suite-download/