Defining Filters for Content with VMware

Filters can be configured to exclude virtual machines or virtual machine disks from backups. You can define filters on a subclient (only applies to that subclient) or on a backup set (applies to all subclients under the backup set).

You can also filter a list of VMs as described in Filtering a List of VMs.

For each subclient under a backup set, the filtering specified for the backup set is combined with the filtering for the subclient to determine which content is excluded from backups. Any filtering defined in a backup set can also be viewed in the subclients under the backup set when the Show Backupset Filters option is selected. (Backup set filters are applied even when filtering is not displayed in subclients.)

You can use wildcard characters when adding a pattern to define a rule.


  • If a virtual machine is explicitly added to the content of a subclient, the virtual machine will be discovered by its GUID. If the display name changes later, the machine is still included in the subclient as long as its GUID remains the same. Any virtual machines identified in a subclient and discovered by their GUIDs will not be filtered from backups.

  • For subclients that are upgraded from Commvault Version 9 and have virtual machines or disks marked using the Do Not Backup option, those items are automatically added to the filters for subclients and backup sets.

  • During backups, the VMX configuration file for a VM is used for VM discovery and backup processing. If you filter a datastore or datastore cluster, any VMX files and disk files that reside on a filtered datastore or cluster are not included in backups. For example:

    • If the VMX file and disk files for a VM are on a filtered datastore or cluster, the VM and its disks are not backed up.

    • If the VMX file resides on a datastore that is not filtered, the VM is backed up but any disk files that are on a filtered datastore are not backed up.

    • If the VMX file resides on a datastore that is filtered, the VM is not included for backup. Any disk files for that VM are also not included in backups, even if they reside on a datastore that is not filtered.

  • The option to filter disks for specific VMs is only available when you are configuring filters for a subclient, and only when the subclient is configured to perform streaming backups.


  1. From the CommCell Browser, navigate to Client Computers > virtualization_client > Virtual Server > VMware > backup_set.

  2. Right-click the backup set or subclient, and then select Properties.

  3. Click the Filters tab.

  4. In the VM Filters area, browse or define a rule to add filters for virtual machines:

    To browse for an object:

    1. Click Browse.

    2. Select a view from the list in the top left of the Browse dialog box:

      • Hosts and Clusters: Select a cluster, host, datacenter, or resource pool.

      • Datastores and Datastore Clusters: Select a datastore or datastore cluster.

      • VMs and Templates: Select a virtual machine, datacenter, VM folder, or vApp.

      • Tags and Categories: Select a tag or category to identify all virtual machines under VMware entities that are marked with the tag or category.

    To define a rule:

    1. Click Add.

    2. In the Rule Group box, select the filter type from the drop-down list and enter the appropriate information in the box on the right:

      • VM Name/Pattern: Enter the display name of the virtual machine or a pattern using wildcards (for example, Test* to identify VMs for which the VM name begins with "Test"). You can also click ... to browse for a VM.

      • Host: Enter the host name as it appears in vCenter, the IP address of the host, or a host name pattern using wildcards. You can also click ... to browse for a host. When you filter a host, all child objects for the host (such as datastores, resource pools, and virtual machines) are automatically excluded from backups.

      • Datastore: Enter the datastore name or a pattern. You can also click ... to browse for a datastore.

      • Guest OS: Enter the exact name of the operating system or a pattern to identify an operating system group. For example, enter Microsoft* to identify any virtual machine that has a version of the Windows operating system, *windows2012r2 to filter Windows 2012 R2 machines, or *linux* to filter all Linux machines.

      • Guest DNS Hostname: Enter a hostname or a pattern to identify a hostname or domain (for example, to identify a specific host or * to identify all hosts on that domain).

        Only virtual machines that have VMware Tools installed can be filtered by Guest DNS Hostname.

      • Power State: Select the power on status of virtual machines to be filtered. You can select one of the following options:

        Powered On - to identify VMs that are powered on.

        Powered Off - to identify VMs that are powered off.

        Other - to identify VMs with a different power on status, such as Suspended.

      • Notes: Enter a pattern to identify virtual machines based on notes text contained in vCenter annotations for the VM summary (for example, Test* to identify VMs with a note that begins with "Test").

      • Custom Attribute: Enter a pattern to identify virtual machines based on custom attributes in vCenter annotations for the VM summary. You can enter search values for the names and values of custom attributes. For example:

        Name Contains *resize* to identify VMs where the name of a custom attribute contains the word "resize").

        Value Contains *128* to identify VMs where the value of a custom attribute contains the number "128").

      • Tags and Categories: Select a tag or category to identify all virtual machines under VMware entities that are marked with that tag or category.

    3. Click + and repeat this step to include additional rules. If you define multiple rules, you can indicate whether virtual machines are selected when they match all of the rules, or when they match any of the rules. For rule groups that include Power State, Notes, or Custom Attribute rules, you can only select virtual machines that match all of the rules.

    4. Click OK.

      The rules you defined and the objects you selected appear in the VM Filters area on the Filters tab.

  5. Add filters for virtual machine disks:

    1. In the VM Disk Filters area, click Add.

    2. On the Add Disk Filter dialog, select an option from the list and provide a value:

      • Virtual Device Node: Select a device node from the list.

      • Datastore: Click ... to browse, select a datastore, and click OK. All disks on that datastore will be filtered.

      • VMDK Name/Pattern: Enter a pattern for the names of disks to filter (for example, VMName.vmdk, *VMName.vmdk, /**/folder/VM*.vmdk, or [Datastore]*/VM*.vmdk).

        Letters entered as part of a disk name pattern are case sensitive.

      • Hard Disk #: Select the first and last numbers for the range of hard disk labels to filter. For example, hard disk 1 would map internally to scsi(0:0).

      Consider the following before filtering disks based on a disk number:

      • You cannot filter by disk number if the vCenter is non-English.

      • When you add disks to a virtual machine, a SCSI ID is assigned to the disk automatically, and the SCSI ID can match a disk number that you have filtered. Do not use this filtering criteria if you add new disks to virtual machines frequently.

    3. Click OK to add the filter.

  6. To filter disks for a specific VM:

    1. Under VM Disk Filters, click Browse.

      The Browse dialog box displays VMs. You can expand a VM to see disks.

    2. Under one or more VMs, select disks to filter from backups.

    3. Click OK.

  7. To verify the list of virtual machines that are selected for backup, click Preview on the subclient properties Content tab. The Preview display includes an Add to Filters button that you can click to add selected virtual machines to filters.

  8. Click OK to save the properties.