Superguide: Home virtualization lab backup software, some special deals for VMware VCPs and vExperts

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 26 2014 (updated on Jul 7 2016) in
  • Backup
  • ESXi
  • Superguides
  • It's a smart move, when an enterprise backup company markets their wares to the home lab enthusiast. Why? Well, we're often IT professionals, and there's no better way to get to know sofware than by trying software. 30 day time bombs don't exactly encourage you to really test these products hard when moving TBs of data around.

    This article is just a summary of options I've located thus far. It's a living document, with any and all of the information subject to being updated at any time, as I get more familiar with the various options out there.

    Think of this article as eavesdropping on my "lab notes" on the various options I find that are suitable for a small home lab. Ideally, for free. I was collecting the information in the past few weeks anyway, so why not share now? This allows me the honor of gather visitor feedback too, so drop a comment below, and tipping me off else I may have missed, with the focus on companies that offers VCPs and/or vExperts a special deal. Even better if those lets-avoid-the-time-bomb deals are available to everybody. For my own selfish purposes, I about 3TB of data total, mostly on my Windows Home Server 2012 R2 Essentials VM that backs up 12 extended family PCs daily. I also have about a half dozen other far smaller VMs that I'd like to keep backed up daily as well. Eventually, I'm moving to a secondary location with a fat internet pipe for the ESXi server that'll be running this backup software, but first I'm "seeding" my first full backups over my local gigabit network.

    What this article is really all about

    • A simple to download, install, and configure VMware Appliance, that handles daily automated backups of chosen VMs, with simple recovery.
    • Ideally, something with a bit of support, even if that support is on a charge per incident basis.
    • It'll likely be NFR code, meaing "Not For Resale." This is generally  full function software that has no expiring license keys
    • Definitely low or no cost to VCPs and/or vExperts, but ideally low or no cost for every IT Pro who wants it.
    • I'm looking for a solution I can keep running for years, without much attention at all.

    What this article is not at all about

    • Enterprise software that can't possibly be affordable enough for a typical small home lab environment


    • many of these companies pursue bloggers and reviewers like myself for a sponsored post.
    • while some of my ad spots are currently running some backup companies products, I currently do not do sponsored posts
    • this post is not a sponsored post
    • I am considered a Nakivo Bronze Partner, because I've tried their simple OVA appliance, and a weekend project I'm embarking on requires proper licensing beyond the NFR code they offer all VCPs like me

    It's worth noting that VMware's widely reported recent bug:

    QueryChangedDiskAreas API returns incorrect sectors after extending virtual machine vmdk file with Changed Block Tracking (CBT) enabled (2090639)

    has made the rounds lately. Some of the major companies publicly display their handling of this potential issue. For others, I inquired, and got responses, where notated below. Probably not that likely an issue for home lab use, and probably an issue that'll be completely gone from all backup solutions in just a few more weeks.

    Ok, let's get started. I hope you find this to be a helpful alphabetical summary for home virtualization enthusiasts.

    So far, I've only found special NFR copies of backup software from Nakivo and Veeam, but I suspect there's more, as I dig a little deeper.

    By NFR, I mean, "Not For Resale" full function software that has no expiring license keys, and no cost to VCPs and/or vExperts.

    Acronis Backup for VMware

    (formerly Acronis vmProtect)

    It's not publicized, but if you contact Acronis directly, you may be able to work out a trial. I talked with one of their employees at a recent VTUG event, and they quickly responded with a trial offer. Here's the link to get started:


    Commvault Simpana 10

    HPE VM Explorer

    [formerly known as Trilead VM Explorer Pro]

    Jul 07 2016 update - you'll notice that HPE has purchased Trilead, here's the new download page:

    HPE doesn't currently offer special pricing for certified professionals.

    NAKIVO Backup & Replication v5

    NAKIVO Gives Away v5 Not For Resale Licenses to VMware Professionals NAKIVO Backup & Replication v5 featuring Flash VM Boot is now available free of charge to VMware Professionals. Campbell, CA, United States — November 3, 2014

    For customers using Nakivo for production, here's the socket based pricing table.

    Here's what Nakivo has to say on November 11th.  She is not representing the company, and it's not a press release. It's a communication with me about about a whether can possibly affect their backups:

    Hi Paul,

    We are aware of the issue and we are working on the fix. It will automatically reset CBT in case the VM disk was expanded.

    This will result in a longer job run and full data transfer, however, backup (or replica) integrity will be preserved.

    The above mentioned fix will be included into the upcoming release which should happen within the next two months.
    Meanwhile, we would recommend manual CBT reset for VMs where VM disk extension took place.

    Once again, please note that CBT reset on a certain VM results in longer job run and full data transfer for such VM.

    Best regards,

    Julia Petrenko | Nakivo Support | Nakivo, Inc.|


    I've done a few informal tests, with their very simple appliance that is easily deployed in a home lab. Super easy if you just point it straight to the IP of your ESXi host.

    I'm currently looking into a minor issue with connecting Nakivo to my VCSA 5.5, due to my use of (unsupported) tweaked hosts files. I have a simple home router that doesn't do DNS lookups for local devices. This is rather typical for consumer SOHO routers. Proper DNS configuration for vSphere is to have forward and reverse DNS lookups from a true DNS server, of course, especially in an enterprise, or production. But for me, trying to keep things simple. I may go the route of adding DNS services to VCSA, or I may just send up a support bundle from the Nakivo simple web UI and see what they say. This capability is available to even trial users who have questions about operation or configuration.

    Quest vRanger

    Symantec Backup Exec V-Ray Edition

    fully-functioning version of Backup Exec 2014 FREE 60 day evaluation process

    Unitrends Enterprise Backup (UEB)

    Formerly "PHD Virtual Backup", here's their latest datasheet.

    Free version with no expiry, for up to 8 VMs, detailed here:

    Here's the original announcement, Unitrends Backs Up Commitment to IT Pro’s with Free NFR Licenses, August 27, 2012, Maria Pressley, Chief Evangelist, Unitrends:

    We recognize the contribution that Microsoft and VMware certified professionals make to the overall IT community, and this program gives them the ability to use Unitrends Enterprise Backup software in their home and office labs at no cost

    With the actual sign-up for form NFR licenses here:

    which currently redirects to the generic download site here. I've reached out to Unitrends for clarification.

    Veeam Backup & Replication v8

    FREE NFR Key for NEW Veeam Availability Suite v8 (which includes Backup & Replication v8)

    Here's what Veeam has to say about, over at, and this Veeam forum discussion.

    Initial Observations:

    I've done a v7 and v8 install in my home environment, which involved a copy of Windows Server 2012 R2, and some patches, and configuration. It's the mother of all backup, and takes a bit more time to configure and test.

    Veeam has long has a strong forum and blog, and I've even had the occasion to briefly talk to Anton Gostev @gostev, "the guy behind Veeam Backup & Replication," back at VMworld 2012.

    You read about Veeam's new NFR sign-up links here at TinkerTry first, which I wrote about here:

    Free NFR of Veeam Availability Suite v8 with Backup & Replication for VCPs, vExperts, and many other certified professionals by Paul Braren on Dec 10 2014.

    In case you're also interested, their new Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE (beta) sign-up is now available too, for daily backups for home users to a NAS, network share, or external drive. Read and see much more about it at
    First look at Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE beta, including bare-metal laptop restore. So far, so good! by Paul Braren on Dec 10 2014.

    VSquare Backup

    Western Digital WD Arkeia Virtual Appliance for VMware

    Free Use Edition WD Arkeia vmOneStep virtual appliance

    The granted license key will allow you to use the Arkeia vmOneStep Virtual Appliance on a VMware ESX or ESXi commercial version (i.e. supporting vStorage) with the backup of one hypervisor (unlimited number of virtual machines) on a 250GB disk storage or to tape.

    Zerto Virtual Replication

    VMware DR Features. More of a mirroring solution across locations, not so much a backup solution.

    Zerto Virtual Replication: Overview and Demo

    Request a trial:

    See also

    June 15 2015 Update

    With vSphere 6.0 arriving on March 12, 2015, it would seem that the backup vendors are taking a while to get their official support updated, with Veeam being a front-runner in stating support. Andre has done a great job summarizing the current state of readiness:

    As of today, I have not yet seen a release of NAKIVO that claims vSphere 6.0 compatibility. Here's what I last heard about their plans, detailed at TinkerTry here.