Restoring Full Virtual Machines for VMware

You can restore virtual machines to the original location or to a different location. By default, virtual machines are restored to the original hypervisor, using the same proxy as the backup.

If the hypervisor is configured to support vCloud Director, you can restore a virtual machine to vCloud.

You can initiate a restore operation from the VM groups page, from the Virtual machines page, or from the detail page for a VM. When you initiate a restore operation for a specific VM from the VM groups page or from the Virtual machines page, you can choose to restore the full VM, to use live recovery, or to perform a live mount operation.

End User Restores

End users can restore VMware VMs in place. For this scenario, the VM display name option is the only value the user can change on the Restore options dialog box.

If an admin user defines a recovery target and associates a user or a user group with the recovery target, any user who is associated with the recovery target can restore a VM out of place and select a recovery target from the Destination list.

If the VM display name is the same as an existing VM on the destination, the restore fails.

Live Recovery

The Live Recovery feature enables virtual machines (VMs) to be recovered and powered on from a backup without waiting for a full restore of the VM. This feature can be used to recover a VM that has failed and needs to be placed back in production quickly, or to validate that a backup can be used in a disaster recovery scenario.

Before You Begin

  • If a passkey is configured for restores, you must have the passkey.

  • Requires VMware vCenter Server version 5.1, 5.5, 6.0, or 6.5. VMware licensing must include a license for vMotion operations.

  • The ESX server used to mount the NFS datastore for the browse and restore operations must be able to resolve the MediaAgent (which uses 3DFS components to perform the live recovery). To ensure connectivity, create a host file entry for the MediaAgent on the ESX server.


    • If a File Recovery Enabler for Linux is configured, the restore operation will use the default File Recovery Enabler for Linux for the live recovery operation. Otherwise, the MediaAgent that performed the backup is used.

    • The same requirements that apply to a MediaAgent also apply to a File Recovery Enabler when it is used for live recovery.

  • The Live Recovery feature uses a 3DFS cache on the MediaAgent that performs the Live Recovery. By default, the 3DFS cache is located in the Job Results folder for the MediaAgent; but you can change the path using the s3dfsRootDir additional setting. The 3DFS cache is circular; unused data are pruned from the cache as needed. By default 5% free space is maintained on the cache; but you can change the required percentage of free space using the n3dfsCacheMinFree additional setting.

    For each live recovery job, the 3DFS cache requires minimum free space equal to the larger of the following values:

    • 20 GB

    • 15% of the total VM size (the sum of the sizes of all VMDKs for the VM)


      For faster recovery times, the 3DFS cache should be hosted on a solid state drive (SSD) using flash memory storage.

  • The user performing the live recovery operation must be an owner of the virtualization client and VSA proxy used for the operation.

  • The vCenter user account must have permissions set as described in Permissions for Custom User Accounts.


  • Live VM recovery is supported for recovery from the following types of backups:

  • Live VM recovery is not supported for the following operations:

    • Backups to tape libraries

    • Archived VMs

    • Multiple VM restores in the same job

    • Simultaneous live recovery and live browse operations for the same virtual machine

  • The operating system of the MediaAgent used for live recovery does not need to match the operating system of the guest VM. For example, a Windows MediaAgent can be used to recover a Linux VM.

Recovery Process

Data is restored from the backup as needed to enable the operations requested by the VM, and the full restore completes as resources allow. The backup is not modified by the restore process.

The process for a Live Recovery is:

  1. When this option is selected for a restore, the restore operation can use the MediaAgent that was used to perform the backup.

  2. Rather than reading the backup, the restore process exposes the backup to the destination ESX server as a network file system (NFS) export.

  3. The NFS export is mounted to the destination ESX server as an NFS datastore.

  4. When the NFS datastore is visible to the ESX server, the restore process retrieves the .vmx and catalog files for the VM.

    The .vmx file is modified to indicate that writes can be made to the VMDK files on the NFS datastore (or the VM can be modified to redirect writes to an alternate datastore).

  5. When the VM files are available to the NFS datastore, the VM is registered and can be powered on.

  6. Any reads for the virtual machine disks are handled by the File Recovery Enabler for Linux, which restores the requested data to the NFS cache and presents it to the ESX server.

  7. After the initial reads needed to make the VM usable, a storage vMotion is initiated to migrate the virtual machine to the destination datastore specified for the restore.

  8. When the migration is complete, the ESX server unexports the backup and unmounts the datastore (if there are no other paths exported to the ESX server). When the cleanup is done, the restore job is marked as complete.


  1. From the navigation pane, go to Protect > Virtualization.

    The Virtual machines page appears.

  2. On the Hypervisors tab, click the hypervisor.

    The hypervisor page appears.

    The VM groups area displays summary information for any existing VM groups.

  3. On the VM groups tab, in the row for the VM group, click the action button action_button , and then click Restore.

    The Select restore type page appears.

  4. To restore from a specific copy of backup data, in the upper-right corner of the page, click Settings, and then from the Source list, select the copy.

    If you leave select Automatic selected, the restore operation searches for the requested data in the primary copy, and automatically selects a different copy if the data is not found in the primary copy.

  5. Select Full virtual machine to restore one or more full virtual machines.

    The Restore page appears.


    When you initiate a restore operation for a specific VM from the VM groups page or from the Virtual machines page, you can choose to restore the full VM, to use live recovery, or to perform a live mount operation.

  6. Expand the tree on the left and select the objects to be restored on the right. Select an item or click on an entry in the Name column to browse within an item.

    In the top right corner of the page, a "Showing" message indicates what backup data is being displayed. You can click the down arrow beside this message and select any of the following options:

    • Show latest backups: Only display data for the most recent backups.

    • Show backups as of a specific date: Only display data up to the date you specify.

    • Show backups for a date range: Only display data within the data range you specify.

  7. Click Restore.

    The Restore options dialog box appears.

  8. When restoring a VMware VM, specify the following options:

    • Type: Select one of the following options:

      • In place: Restore to the original location.

        To avoid overwriting the original source VM, edit the VM display name for an in-place restore.

      • Out of place: Restore to a different location.

    • Restore as: To restore to a different virtualization platform, select the target environment from the list.

      By default, the Restore as list shows the source hypervisor.

      To restore to a different virtualization platform, see Cross-Hypervisor Restores.

    • Destination: Select the destination hypervisor for the restored virtual machine.

      You can restore to a recovery target if one is defined and you have permission to access the recovery target.

      To restore to a different vCenter, choose Select a different vCenter (optional) from the list.

      The Configure vCenter dialog box appears.

      1. In the vCenter box, enter the IP address of the vCenter or an ESX server.

      2. Provide the user credentials in the Username and Password boxes.

      3. Click Submit.

    • Access node: (Optional) Choose one of the following options:

      • When you restore multiple VMs, select Automatic to distribute the VMs in the restore job across the access nodes (proxies) that are assigned for the VMware destination hypervisor.

        VMs are assigned to access nodes using the round-robin method. This option is available for full VM restores from streaming backups or IntelliSnap backup copies.

      • To use a different proxy, select the proxy from the list.

    • VM display name: Type a new virtual machine name in the box.

      When performing an out-of-place restore from VMware to vCloud, enter a new name for the restored VM instead of appending a string to the VM name.

      If an existing VM with the same name exists on the destination host and you do not select Overwrite VMs if they already exist, the restore job fails.

    • Destination host: To restore to a different host, click Browse and select the ESX host or cluster. By default, the original host is shown as the destination host.

    • Datastore: To use a different data store for the restored VM and disks, select the new data store from the list.

    • Resource pool: To restore to a resource pool, select the destination from the list.


      The Resource pool list is only displayed when you are restoring to a vCenter.

    • VM folder path: To restore to a folder, click Browse and select the destination folder.

    • Network settings: The Network settings dialog box shows the source source and destination networks for the VM being restored.

      Click the pencil icon to edit a network mapping, or Add to add a new mapping.

      • Source network: Select the source network, or select Any Network to map all network connections for the source VM to a different network for the restored VM.

      • Destination network: Select a network connection for the restored VM, or select No Connection to restore without a network connection.

      Click OK to save changes.

    • IP address settings: Click the pencil icon to edit a IP address mapping, or Add to add a new mapping.

      The Edit IP address settings or IP address settings dialog box appears.

      Specify address mappings as described in IP address mapping.

      Click OK to save changes.

    • Power on VMs after restore: Select this option to start the VM automatically.

    • Unconditionally overwrite if it already exists: Select this option to delete an existing virtual machine and replace it with the restored VM.

    vCloud restores: If the hypervisor supports vCloud Director, select Restore to vCloud to display additional vCloud options.

    • Show vCloud options: Select this option to display vApp configuration settings.

    • Restore vApp configuration: Select this option to restore the vApp configuration.

      Selecting this option restores the vApp network configuration, lease configuration, and virtual machine startup order of the source VM to the new vApp.

    • Provide the following information:

      • Organization: Enter the name of the target organization.

      • Org vDC: Enter the name of the organization vDC to be used for the restored VM.

      • vApp name: Enter the name of the vApp to which the VM should be restored. If the specified vApp does not exist, one will be created using the name you enter.

      • vApp owner: Enter the name of the user who owns the destination vApp.

      • Network adapter: Select a network adapter for the restored VM.

  9. Expand Additional options to provide the following information:

    • Disk provisioning: Use the default value (Original) to retain the provisioning method used at the time of backup. Select a value from the Disk Provisioning list to force a specific disk provisioning method: Thick Lazy Zero, Thin, or Thick Eager Zero.

    • Transport mode for VMware: Select one of the following options:

      • Auto: The transport mode is selected automatically based on the backup environment:

        If the datastore is accessible to a physical proxy, SAN is used.

        If the datastore is accessible to the ESX server for a virtual proxy, HotAdd is used.

        Otherwise, NBD is used.

      • SAN: For directly connected storage using Fibre Channel (FC) or Internet SCCI (iSCSI) protocols. The Virtual Server Agent must have access to the datastore LUNs (logical drives) that provide storage for virtual machine disks. Data is read directly from the storage where virtual machines reside, without going through the ESX host or transferring data over the local area network (LAN). The ESX host is contacted only to coordinate access to the LUN. SAN transport mode cannot be used if the proxy computer is a virtual machine.

      • Hot Add: The Virtual Server Agent is installed on a virtual machine residing on an ESX server. In HotAdd mode, the data volumes containing the virtual machines to be backed up are automatically mounted to the proxy, so they can be accessed by the proxy as a local disk. The ESX host the proxy is running on must have access to all datastores for the virtual machine. If the virtual machine and the proxy are not on the same host, all datastores must be shared between the hosts.

      • NBD: Data is transferred using the TCP/IP connection between the ESX server and the proxy computer. The local area network (LAN) can be the production network or a dedicated backup network.

      • NBD SSL: Similar to NBD mode, but data transfer between the proxy computer and the ESX server is encrypted. Encryption should be used for sensitive information, even within a private network.

      • NAS: NAS (network attached storage) transport mode enables the virtual server agent (VSA) proxy computer to read data directly from the network file server (NFS), without going through an ESX host or transferring data over the local area network (LAN).

    • Restore virtual machine using live recovery (vMotion): Select this option to use the live recovery option.


      If you initiated the restore operation for a specific VM from the VM groups page or from the Virtual machines page, and then selected Live recovery on the Select restore type dialog box, this option is selected and cannot be cleared.

      • Redirect writes to datastore: (Optional) Select a datastore for redirect writes. The redirect writes datastore must be different from the destination datastore for the restored VM.

      • Delay migration: Delay the migration of the VM to the destination location for the specified time (0-12 hours). You can still use the VM when delaying the migration.

  10. Click Submit to run the restore job.