What do you backup up on Hyper-V hosts?

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There is one thing that we all can agree on: you can never stop identifying things that may fail. This was the case in a recent Veeam Community Podcast episode. There, I spoke with Simone Bennett about what to backup within the Hyper-V infrastructure. That’s right, the Hyper-V infrastructure. The guest VMs are not the problem. So, applications, data, files within the VMs are the easy part. But what about the cluster infrastructure itself, what needs backing up and how do you do it?

That was the nature of this podcast episode with me and Simone. This podcast is very frank and conversational, and in most cases I script none of it. That’s the case in this episode as well. In fact, we came to a stopping point because I simply didn’t have the answers needed for this topic.

The question is how and what do we need to backup from the Hyper-V infrastructure itself? Using Failover Cluster Manager for Clustered Shared Volumes, there is a certain amount of host configuration that is involved. This configuration applies to Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 editions of Hyper-V. So, because I couldn’t answer it; I reached out to someone who can!

I reached out to Joachim Nässlander, he pointed us to this important TechNet KB article. But Joachim also made an additional recommendation about evicting a node from a Hyper-V cluster. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is as long as we can comfortably re-add a node to the cluster. Here’s what Joachim said in regards to a six-node cluster:

Well, to be really honest I'd be happy to backup the cluster configuration and the VM's. But if one node fails I'd just evict it and rebuild it and then join it to the cluster. Then it'll get the latest configuration automatically.

The process of evicting a node is very easy, and in fact is driven in the Failover Cluster Manager UI as a right-click. This step is shown in the figure below of a two-host cluster:

Hyper-V VM files restore, in action

So this begs the question, which way is best? In my opinion, I’d do both: Backup the Failover Cluster configuration outlined above AND do eviction first, followed by re-adding a repaired host.What do you think is the best way to protect the Hyper-V infrastructure? Share your comments below.

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About the author
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Rick Vanover (MVP, vExpert, Cisco Champion) is the director of Technical Product Marketing & Evangelism for Veeam Software based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick’s IT experience includes system administration and IT management; with virtualization being the central theme of his career recently.
Follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover or @Veeam.