Tested: Altaro Hyper-V Backup

In my LAB environment I tested Altaro Hyper-V Backup version 3. Altaro Hyper-V Backup is software that makes it possible to backup and restore Windows 2008 (R2) Hyper-V VMs.


There are three editions available: The free edition, the standard edition and the unlimited edition. For this test I used the unlimited edition because it supports “Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs)”.  More info can be found here.



Altaro Hyper-V Backup needs to be installed on the Hyper-V host. In a Hyper-V Cluster environment, the cluster node were Altaro Hyper-V Backup is installed,  is called the Master Controller. On all the other nodes agents are installed. The Master Controller node configures and controls all the Altaro Background Agents on the cluster.


On the node you  that will become the Master Controller launch the downloaded 14 MB installation file. Within a minute the installation is competed.


The configuration is a couple of steps:

1. Select the Master Controller Node and install the “background backup agents” to the other cluster node(s).


2. Select the Hyper-V VMs to backup


3. Select a Backup Drive. The following backup drives are supported:

USB External Drives
eSata External Drives
USB Flash Drives
Fileserver Network Shares using UNC Paths
NAS devices (Network Attached Storage) using UNC Paths
PC Internal Hard Drives (recommended only for evaluation purposes)
RDX Cartridges

It supports multiple backup drive swapping and  It is possible to mirror the backup data to another location by creating a mirror schedule..


4. Setup the notifications.

Notifications can be set by Event Log and/or Email. 


5. Create a backup schedule and place the VMs in the schedule group.


After these 5 steps the backup schedule is ready.


Altaro used the ReverseDelta technology. ReverseDelta only save the changes between each version of a changed file, rather than backing up the whole file every time it changes. The latest version of a file is always made available in its entirety and not as a delta file.  More information about the ReverseDelta can be found here.


When Altaro initiates a backup from the Hyper-V Host it invokes a VSS on the Hyper-V server (software VSS) and then it invokes a VSS within the Virtual Machines – this last step is done automatically by the MS Hyper-V VSS Writer. This means that as long as the VSS within the VM succeeds then any VSS applications (for example Microsoft SQL or Exchange) within the VM will commit their data to disk resulting in a proper application-consistent backup. When Altaro makes a backup from a VM on a Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) the the volume is in redirected mode during the whole backup! This is common CSV behavior when using software VSS.


To shorten the time the volume is in redirected mode it is possible to use a hardware VSS provider (SAN must support a hardware VSS provider). To enable hardware VSS you must contact Altaro support. There is no option in the GUI interface available to enable hardware VSS.

When the backup is finished and Email notification is enable, you get an backup report in your inbox. The report is very limited.




In Altaro you can choose the following restore options:

  • Restore a VM to its original location. This will overwrite the current guest VM
  • Restore a VM as clone to a different location. The VM will restored given a new name and to a new location


  • Individual File level restore. Restores individual files from a VHD or AVHD file
  • Fire Drill. The Fire Drill feature allows you to plan and execute test restores at a scheduled time.  That way you can easily verify that your VMs are being backed up correctly
  • Boot from Backup Drive. Run a guest VM directly from the backup location without having to do a full restore

I tested the Restore a VM as clone without any problems.


The dashboard gives an overview on the following items:

  • Backup Drive Status as pie chart on free space and backup space
  • Graph statistics  display with drop down list for Total Backup Size /day, backup duration / day, total data transferred / day and total number of backups / day 
  • Cluster status, Latest Backups, Mirror Backup Drive History, Restore History and Errors Since Last Backup




Altaro Hyper-V Backup is an easy backup application with the following pros and cons:


  • Easy to install, configure and use
  • Fast
  • Inexpensive (see pricing)
  • Reverse Delta technology
  • Mirror Backup Drive


  • Altaro needs be installed on the Hyper-V host. The Management Console cannot be installed on another server
  • Backups all the VHDs, no exclusions possible
  • Reporting very basic
  • No tape handling
  • No Hardware VSS support in the GUI
  • Only backup to drives, no cloud support
  • Support only the MS Hyper-V hypervisor

Further versions will address some of the cons. For more information click on the Altaro banner on the right side of the blog.

Update 07 august 2012:

Today Altaro released the beta of Hyper-V Backup version 3.5. Version 3.5 has new features and fixes.

New features:

  • Windows Server 2012 Support, including support for VHDX files.
  • Windows 2012: support for backup and restore of VMs located on network paths.
  • Windows 2012: support for Volume Shadow Copies of SMB3.0 network paths.
  • Windows 2012: support for CSV3.0 and scale-out CSV file shares.
  • New and improved Metro-Style User Interface.


  • Link to error reporter from Management Console.
  • Extra verification checks in Reverse Delta algorithm.
  • Improved free-space calculation (Backup no longer checks for full size of VM in free space).
  • Many more improvements and bug fixes under the hood.

To try the beta go to here.

Shadow a VMware View desktop session

In VMware View there is no central way shadow a desktop session such as for example in Citrix XenApp. It would be nice if in the future it is possible to shadow a desktop from for example the VMware View Connection server. This is frequently asked question by customers were VMware View is implemented.

Brian Knudtson explain in his blog post  how to access a PCoIP session from the vSphere Console.

The following steps must be taken to shadow a PCoIP session from the vSphere Console by using a GPO:

  • Use VMware vSphere 5 and VMware View 5 or greater (in vSphere 4 there is a registry hack available)
  • For Windows 7 be sure to use Hardware Version 8. For Windows XP or Vista you can use any hardware version 
  • Create a new Group Policy Object (GPO)
  • Add the “pcoip.adm” file to the Computer Configuration. The  ADM file can be found on the VMware View Connection server in the “C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware View\Server\extras\GroupPolicyFiles” folder
  • Enable the “Enable access to PCoIP session from a vSphere console” in the Computer Configuration settings.


  • Link the GPO to the OU were the VMware View Windows 7 desktop resides
  • Sync Domain Controllers
  • Restart the VMware View desktop

After configuring this, it is possible to shadow a PCoIP session from the vSphere Console. T The user doesn’t need to approve the shadow session so this could be security and privacy issue.  Here’s are screenshot, The left side is the VMware View desktop and the right side is the vSphere client console:


The keyboard and mouse movements are displayed on the two screens synchronously. I don’t know if it has any performance impact.

Convert VMware to Hyper-V VMs with Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter

Last week Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter RC is released.  Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter is a stand-alone tool that makes it possible to convert and deploys VMware based VMs to Hyper-V based VMs.  It’s  coverts the VMware VM and virtual disks (VMDK) to Hyper-V VMs and Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs). As virtualization consultant I got “sometimes“ involved in migrating VMware to Hyper-V VMs, so I tried Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter.

What’s supported

Supported VMware platforms to convert from :

  • vCenter Server 5.0
  • vCenter Server 4.1
  • VMware ESXi Server 5.0
  • VMware ESXi/ESX Server 4.1

Supported Windows platforms to convert to:

  • Windows Server® 2012 release candidate
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 release candidate
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

Guest operating Systems supported to convert:

  • Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86 & x64
  • Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2 x86 & x64
  • Windows Vista & 7 x86 & x64

MVMC will successfully perform virtual machine conversions when the following conditions are met:

  • The virtual machine to be converted is in a running state
  • The virtual machine has VMware tools installed (make sure the VMware tools are up-to-date!)
  • The VMware VM is stopped during the VMDK copy process
  • The virtual machine is joined to an Active Directory® domain.
  • Remote access through Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is enabled on the VMware-based virtual machine to be converted and the destination Hyper-V host. See the “Troubleshooting” section in this guide for more details.
  • The account used for connecting to the VMware-based virtual machine that needs to be converted is part of an Active Directory domain and also a local administrator on that machine.
  • You have the correct credentials to connect to the required environments.
  • The Windows user account that you are using has write access to the UNC path specified on the destination Hyper-V host for copying the virtual hard disks.
  • The Hyper-V host has the required disk space available for the converted virtual hard disks.


How it works

Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter contains the following components:

  • MVMC.exe, a command-line utility that converts VMware-based virtual machines to Hyper-V-based virtual machines
  • MVMC.GUI.exe, a wizard-driven GUI that helps convert VMware-based virtual machines to Hyper-V-based virtual machines
  • MVDC.exe, a command-line utility that converts VMware virtual disks (VMDK) to Hyper-V-based virtual hard disks (VHD)

The MVMC.GUI.exe provides a wizard-driven GUI. The conversion takes the following steps:

  • Takes snapshot VMware VM
  • Uninstall VMware tools
  • Shutdown VM
  • Copy the VMDKs to conversion machine
  • Remove snapshot
  • Depending on “final state” settings the VMware VM will be started or stopped
  • Convert VMDKs to VHDs
  • Import the VM in Hyper-V
  • Installs integration services
  • Depending on “final state” settings the Hyper-V VM will be started or stopped

I tested a conversion and deployment of a  Windows 2008 R2 VM, hosted on a VMware vSphere 5 update 1 environment using the GUI. I executed the following steps:

  • Install Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter. For best performance, it is recommended that you run the conversion on the destination host (Hyper-V host)
  • Start MVMC.GUI.exe
  • Enter the vCenter or ESXi information


  • Select a running VM. Be aware that the VM will be stopped during the conversion!


  • Specify account details en select the final state of the source and target


  • Select the temporarily location to store the disks. Make sure it has enough free space (double size of the source VMDKs). It will store the VMDKs and convert the VMDKs to VHDs.


  • Enter the Hyper-V server information and select the share to store the VHD. Make sure you have enough free space to store all the VHDs


  • Some warnings will appear. Read them and click Finish


  • The copy and conversion steps are executed


  • The VM is converted successfully


  • In Windows Server 2012 the VM can be started. It has the Integrated Components installed




Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter is a very basic VMware to Hyper-V conversion program. Here are some Pros and Cons:


  • Support for Windows Server 2012
  • Command line scripting possible


  • It does not pre-check for example if there is sufficient disk space available. During the copy and conversion process you get a error when the disk is full. This cost a lot of extra time!
  • The VMware tools must be up to date. With outdated VMware tools it is not possible to convert
  • Hot cloning not possible. Downtime needed!
  • No Linux support
  • Pre-checks are not
  • No disk alignment of Windows 2003


If you like it to do the other way, VMware has a tool called “VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0” which convert Hyper-V based VMs to VMware vSphere VMs with more advanced functions to use such as hot cloning and disk aligning.