Another backup alternative is to use the utilities within VMware's ESX Server to perform your image-level backups. You can use the vcbMounter utility to back up an entire VM in the service console. The tool creates a quiesced snapshot of the VM and exports the snapshot into a set of files, which you can later use to restore the VM. To back up the set of files, you can use supported backup software or use scp to perform a simple file transfer.
On the source ESX Server systems, use the vcbMounter utility to back up the VM files. The syntax is as follows:
vcbMounter -a <vm identifier> -r <backup destination></backup></vm>
where VM identifier is a unique identifier of the VM to be backed up, and backup destination specifies the location for backup data. The most common way of identifying VMs is to use their DNS name or IP address. Note that you can use scp to back up a VM to a local directory or to a remote server. For example, to backup the VM w2k3vm.acme.com to the local directory /home/vmbackup/w2k3vm, you would use the command
vcbMounter -a ipaddr:w2k3vm.acme.com -r /home/vmbackup/w2k3vm
To restore files to the designated folder in the ESX Server console, you'll need to use the VM’s catalog file. The vcbMounter utility creates this file for each VM it backs up. You'll need to make a copy of this file. In our example, you need to make a copy of the /home/vmbackup/w2k3m VM's catalog file. To do so, you can enter the command
cp /home/vmbackup/w2k3m/catalog /tmp/catalog-w2k3m
In the copy of the catalog file, you have to specify the new settings for data stores, and the folder path. The data store identifies where to store all the files that comprise a VM. You can obtain a list of valid data store names from the data store browser in your VI client or by looking at the file system labels of your VMFS volumes in the service console under /vmfs/volumes. The folder path identifies the folder that will store the VM.
After modifying the settings in the VM's catalog file, you'll need to use this file to restore the VM. To restore the VM, use the -a entry to specify the alternate catalog file. For example, to restore a VM backed up under /home/vmbackup/w2k3m by using the alternate catalog file /tmp/catalog-w2k3m, enter
vcbRestore -s /home/vmbackup/w2k3m -a /tmp/catalog-w2k3m.