It’s been a while since I did a post on my blog. But today I am back with a short review of the upcoming release of PHD Virtual Backup version 6.0. A couple of other Dutch bloggers also posted about the new PHD Virtual Backup v6 release. You can read their posts here:

PHD Virtual Backup has some great new features. These are the features I like the most:

  • PHD Instant Recovery:

Eliminate costly downtime and meet SLA’s with PHD Instant Recovery.

PHD Instant Recovery allows users to make an application available as quickly as possible in the event of a failure, without the need for additional infrastructure or a lengthy restore process.

In the event of a failure, PHD Instant Recovery will simply:

  • Turn on a VM using the data that resides directly on the backup target, enabling users to experience next to no downtime.
  • Then, once ready, users can either leverage VMware Storage vMotion or use PHD Motion to move the VM’s to production storage.
  • Application Aware Backups

Properly quiesce an application prior to backup (especially helpful for Windows 2008 R2 running on Citrix XenServer guests) Perform any post backup processes, such as automated log truncation, shrinking, etc.

Adoption of virtualization is growing at a rapid rate and more sophisticated, mission critical applications such as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server are being virtualized every day.

PHD Virtual Backup v6.0 provides the ability to take an application aware backup for any application allowing users to maintain confidence that backups of their mission critical applications will complete without fail.

  • Enhanced File Level recovery:

While PHD Virtual currently offers file recovery for any Operating System, PHD Virtual Backup v6.0 takes ease of use to a whole new level with the addition of a new file recovery method. This new method consumes fewer resources and provides unprecedented flexibility with file recovery by eliminating the need to allocate additional virtual appliances dedicated to the process. Simply select the new CIFS file recovery option to present your backup data out to any user that needs to recover files, Exchange emails, or other application items. Those that currently enjoy the flexibility and security of sharing backup data out using iSCSI can continue to use that method as well.

You can read the whole list of new features here: http://phdvirtual.com/solutions/new-6-version or watch the video below:


Before we start with the installation of the product I want to show you the System Requirements and some information about the Backup Storage you can use with PHD Virtual Backup version 6.0.

System Requirements

PHD Virtual Backup Appliance (VBA)
  • VMware vSphere 4.x, 5.0.
  • VMware vSphere Hypervisor (free version of ESXi) is not supported.
  • 8GB free space for the VBA’s virtual disk
  • 64-bit host machines must have Intel VT enabled
PHD Virtual Backup Plugin vSphere client 4.x, 5.0
Networking To configure the VBA, you need a DHCP or a Static IP address.
VM Replication VM Replication may require an additional PHD VBA, one deployed at a primary site and another deployed at a secondary (DR) site.
PHD Virtual Backup Exporter Windows Server 2003 (32 bit) or Windows Server 2008 R2 with .NET Framework version 2.0 SP2 or later installed.
PHD Guest Tools Windows Server 2003 64 bit SP2 and later and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and later. PHD Guest Tools also require hypervisor tools (VMware Tools in a vSphere setup) installed.

Backup Storage

From the user manual:

PHD Virtual Backup can use storage available via the hypervisor (iSCSI, Fibre Channel) or network storage (CIFS or NFS) to store backup data. When you deploy a PHD VBA, you configure the backup storage by either adding one or more virtual disks to the PHD VBA virtual machine or by specifying a network storage location (either an NFS or CIFS share). When using attached disks, they can be created on local or shared hypervisor storage. Virtual disks attached to the PHD VBA is the recommended method for storing your backup data with PHD Virtual Backup.

Backup Storage Notes:

  • How much storage do I need: Due to data deduplication and compression, you can store, on average, one month of backups for each VM by allocating backup storage equal to the total size of the VM data you would like to back up. For example, if you have 500 GB of virtual machines, you should allocate at least 500 GB of storage space. Additional details on determining how much backup storage space you will need can be found the white paper Backup Storage Sizing Guide available on the PHD Virtual web site.
  • Hard links: A hard link is essentially a reference to a file or directory on a file system. PHD Virtual Backup makes use of hard links when deduplicating Virtual Full backup data on the backup data store. Because of this, hard links must be supported and enabled (if necessary) on any storage device used as a backup target. By default, most storage device file systems support hard links and have them enabled – if your storage device supports hard links but does not have them enabled, refer to your vendor’s documentation for details on enabling them.
  • In most environments, using an attached virtual disk to store backups will result in the best overall performance.
  • For performance reasons, backing up to USB storage is not supported. l Backup storage cannot be shared by
    multiple PHD VBAs – each VBA must write to its own unique backup data store. When using multiple PHD Virtual Backup Appliances with network storage, the same backup target destination can be used if you create separate shares for each appliance. For example, you could send backups for PHDVBA-1 to \\StorageServer\backupshare\vba1 and send backups for PHDVBA-2 to \\StorageServer\backupshare\vba2.
  • As of version 5.4.1, attached virtual disks added to a PHD VBA to be used as a backup data store are considered part of a Virtual Storage Pool (logical volume). Multiple disks can be added to create backup stores greater than the 2 TB limit on individual virtual disks. Earlier version (pre-5.4.1) attached disk backup data stores cannot be used with a Virtual Storage Pool. To create a backup data store greater than 2 TB by using multiple attached disks, you will need to deploy and configure a new PHD VBA.

Installing PHD Virtual Backup 6.0

The installation package contains the following files:


In this post I will use only the PHDVB_Install and the PHDVBA_OVF file.

We start with the Installation of the PHD Virtual Backup Console (vSphere plugin). Don’t forget to close the vSphere client:


After the next, next, finish steps, the PHD Virtual Backup Console is installed and ready to use. But before you can use the PHD Virtual Backup Console you need to deploy the Virtual Backup Appliance (VBA) via the the Deploy OVF Template wizard in vSphere:


Before we continue you need to be sure that the VBA has a working IP address. When you’re working in a environment without a DHCP server, you need to configure a Static IP address. That’s quite simple. Just op the Console in the vSphere client and press CTRL + N. The Network Configuration wizard starts:


Select Static and fill in the correct IP configuration:


Now it’s time to start the Virtual Backup Console and to start with the initial configuration of the VBA. Start the vSphere client if you didn’t already to configure the IP settings. Connect to your vSphere environment. Search for the PHDVBA VM and press the right mouse button to open the menu. Now you’ll see the new PHD Virtual Backup menu. Select Console to continue:


The PHD Virtual Backup Console starts:


There are two steps left before we can start creating backup jobs:


Click on the Configure now button and configure the vCenter server settings:


When you click save and the credentials are accepted. The VBA will restart.

The last step before you can start to create backup jobs is to attach the Backup Storage. I will use the Attached Virtual Disk(s) option. In my lab I have attached a second virtual disk of 100GB.


When press save to apply the new settings, the VBA will restart once again.

Before I forget to mention. You need to configure your license within the License Manager.


Creating Backup Jobs

Select Backup to create a new backup job. The Create Backup Job wizard starts. Select the VMs you want to add to this job. Unfortunately there is now search option available to search for a particular VM. That might be handy if you’re running a large vSphere shop.


Select the Backup Mode you want to use. In this test I use the default Virtual Full.


You can also select the Application Aware Processing options and Post-Backup Processing options. You need to install the PHD Guest Tools and VMware Tools inside the Guest OS of your VMs.


More information about the PHD Guest Tools from the user guide:

The PHD Guest Tools installation files are included in the PHD Virtual Backup installation package and are available as both standalone executables and as part of separate ISO files that can be mounted on your individual VMs for installation. Files for both x86 and x64 systems are included – select the proper installation media based on your VMs operating system.
– PHD_Guest_Tools.exe: PHD Guest Tools installation file.
– PHD_Guest_Tools.iso: PHD Guest Tools installation ISO file.
PHD Guest Tools installs a custom Apache service, a scripts directory, and other required files and directories.

Note: To allow communication with the PHD VBA, the PHD Guest Tools installation will open ports 4000 and 4003
on the guest VM.

The Backup job is ready to start.

Running a Backup Job

In the Jobs tab you are able to start a job or to monitor the current configured jobs.


You can also monitor the job status at the VBA console inside the vSphere client:


PHD Instant VM Recovery

You can start a recovery job from the PHD Virtual Backup Console or via the Plugin inside the vSphere client:


Select the VM from the backup file:


Select the settings you want to configure. In this test I wanted to perform an Instant recovery restore:


You can also select another destination datastore:


On the VBA console you’ll also see the Instant VM Recovery job starting:


The Instant VM Recovery job was finished in 56 seconds:


The last place to find information about the Instant VM Recovery jobs is the Dashboard inside the Backup Console:


When the Instant VM Recovery is completed, you can find the VM in the inventory of the vSphere client:


The _recovered VM is running from a NFS datastore mounted from the VBA. You can find the details of the Datastore in the vSphere client:


To start a PHD Motion Seeding job or to End an Instant VM Recovery, you can open the Virtual Backup Console and go to Instant VM Recovery:


Before you van end an Instant VM Recovery, you need to shutdown the _recovered VM first.

More information about PHD Motion Seeding from the user manual:

PHD Motion is a two-step process used to move instantly recovered VMs off of temporary storage to production storage and also merge any changes stored on the write space location. The first step, “seeding” is essentially a standard restore that is initiated for an instantly recovered VM. PHD Motion Seeding can be initiated along with the instant recovery job or it can be started at any time while the instantly recovered VM is active.

The second and final step of the process, Complete PHD Motion, can occur when the seeding process has completed and when the instantly recovered VM is powered down. The Complete PHD Motion step merges any of the changes made to the instantly recovered VM with the seeded VM restored to permanent storage. The instant recovery VM is then removed. When this step is finished, you have a fully restored and up to date version of your recovered virtual machine.

You can also perform a Storage vMotion to move the recovered VM from the temporary NFS datastore to the production storage.


Like in my previous review of PHD Virtual Backup I want to end the post with some pro’s and con’s:


  • Installation is done within 15 minutes or less.
  • Virtual Appliance! no Windows or SQL license needed.
  • Nice integration with the vSphere client.
  • Instant VM Recovery. It’s I must have now a days.
  • Application Aware backups.
  • PHD Exporter to easily export backup files to other locations.


  • You need to install the PHD Guest Tools to use the Application Aware mode.
  • Lack of iSCSI support to use as Backup storage target.
    The best new feature for me is the Instant VM Recovery option.  But overall the product feels a lot more mature and can compete with the competitors.

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