Creating an Emergency File-Based Backup of the vCenter Appliance

May 25, 2022

Having regularly scheduled file-based backups of the vCenter Appliance is important to ensure our vCenter is protected in the event of a failure. Unfortunately, sometimes events out of our control get in the way of having quick access to these backups.

In the below blog, we will demonstrate how to take a quick file-based backup of a vCenter Appliance before making potentially detrimental changes.

Before making any changes to the vCenter Appliance which includes, and is not limited to:

  • Applying patches/updates
  • Performing major version upgrades
  • Changing the Primary Network Identifier (PNID)
  • Changing the vCenter's SSO domain
  • Replacing any SSL certificates
  • Modifying advanced settings

It is important we have backups. If the usual backup location cannot be reached for any reason and we wish to make a change, we can temporarily target an ESXi host's VMFS or NFS datastore for the file-based backup, using the SFTP protocol and the root user account. This process requires that SSH access (TCP:22) is open from the vCenter Appliance to the ESXi host, and that we can login as root.

Important: Using ESXi as a backup target for vCenter Appliance backups is not recommended as a long-term solution. This is intended to provide a quick workaround when another file-based backup location is not available. A full backup server solution should be implemented for production systems. Disable SSH access once the backup is taken to maximize security of the ESXi host.

Provided the above is true, please review the below walkthrough where a file-based backup is created, and stored on an ESXi host's local VMFS datastore.

Once completed, you can confidentially check the check-box that the vCenter Appliance has been backed up prior to the potentially destructive activity.

Simulations can be navigated by clicking the orange box hot-spots, or by using your keyboards left and right arrow keys

(Click HERE to open the simulation walkthrough in a new window)

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