Hyper-V Screenshot Verification: Ensure Recoverability

Performing backups of VM data is important because no one is immune to the problem of data corruption. But what is the probability of successful recovery from a backup? Suppose you have backed up a VM, but when you need to recover, you notice that something is wrong with the VM that renders recovery impossible. The most unfortunate events are when important VMs are corrupted and there are no backup copies. For this reason, best practice is to make sure that the backed-up data is consistent and that your VMs are bootable from backups. NAKIVO Backup & Replication v.7.4 can help avoid these disaster scenarios with a newly expanded Screenshot Verification feature, which now supports Hyper-V platforms. The feature allows you to check whether your backups are functional.

Why Do You Need Screenshot Verification?

The main reasons for using screenshot verification are:

  • To know that your VM backups are valid for the recovery of entire VMs, application objects, and files/folders
  • To ensure that your VM replicas are ready for disaster recovery
  • To have proof that your VM backup software works as planned
  • To identify and fix problems before any real damage is incurred

How Does Screenshot Verification for Hyper-V Work?

The Screenshot Verification feature can be used to verify VM backups and VM replicas.

Verification of VM Backups

Screenshot verification for VM backups relies on the Flash VM Boot feature. When the VM is backed up, the VM data stored in the backup repository is compressed, deduplicated, and possibly encrypted (depending on your settings). NAKIVO Backup & Replication recovers the VM with Flash VM Boot: the product creates a new empty VM with networking disabled (this helps avoid network conflicts) on the specified Hyper-V host and mounts the VM disks to the new VM directly from the backup repository as iSCSI targets. This results in an isolated VM with a pass-through disk. After the VM is powered on, the product waits for the time specified in the settings, checks that the VM is powered on, and takes a screenshot of the user interface of the VM’s operating system (OS). The screenshot can be sent to the user via email or viewed in the web interface of NAKIVO Backup & Replication. After the screenshot is taken, any changes made within the VM (which are stored in the disk-based write cache of the backup repository) are discarded and the new VM created in the temporary environment is deleted.

Screenshot verification for backup copy works similarly to screenshot verification for a backup.

Note: Unlike with backup jobs, backup copy jobs, and replication jobs, if you perform a Flash VM Boot job with screenshot verification enabled, the resulting VM is not automatically deleted after taking the screenshot. This is because you likely want to use the Flash-booted VM.

Verification of VM Replicas

For screenshot verification of a Hyper-V VM replica, NAKIVO Backup & Replication creates a checkpoint to store the changes made within the VM. Networking is turned off for the replica, then the replica is powered on. The product waits for a specified period of time, checks that the VM is powered on, and takes a screenshot. After a screenshot has been taken, the VM replica is powered back off. The checkpoint is then deleted; the changes made within the VM replica are discarded.

How to Set Up Screenshot Verification

Hyper-V Integration Services must be installed on the backed-up guest VM from which you want to take a screenshot.

If you want to receive notifications with screenshots via email, you must first configure your email settings within the product. Open your browser and go to the address of your instance of NAKIVO Backup & Replication. In the web interface, click Configuration > General, select Email settings, and click Edit.

Email settings on the general configuration page

Configure your email settings, which are: the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server address, the sender username (email address) as well as the associated password, the port of the SMTP server, encryption type, and the email address of the recipient.

Editing the email settings in NAKIVO Backup & Replication

Walkthroughs of screenshot verification configuration for backup, replication, backup copy, and Flash VM Boot jobs are presented below.

VM Backup Job

On the main page click Create > Microsoft Hyper-V backup job.

Creating a new Hyper-V backup job.

Select the VM you want to back up. Click Next.

Selecting the Hyper-V VM to be backed up

In the Destination section, select a backup repository to store the backup. Click Next.

Selecting the destination backup repository

In the Schedule section, select the scheduling options or check the Do not schedule, run on demand box. Click Next.

The scheduling settings for Hyper-V backup job

Set the retention settings. Click Next.

Hyper-V backup job retention settings

In Options, configure the job options. In the Screenshot verification dropdown menu, select Enable.

Enabling screenshot verification in the Hyper-V backup job options.

Select a target container – specify the Hyper-V server that should be used for temporary recovery with Flash VM Boot to take a screenshot. You can tick the Send job run reports to box and type the email address you want to use for receiving reports. This checkbox becomes active once you have configured the email settings on NAKIVO Backup & Replication’s general configuration page.

Click Finish & Run when you are ready to run the job.

Screenshot verification options.

Once the job has run, you can click the completed job. If the VM was loaded successfully from the backup, you can see the screenshot of the OS interface.

Viewing the screenshot of the test-recovered Hyper-V VM backup OS.

VM Replication Job

Go to the Home page, click Create and select Microsoft Hyper-V replication job.

Creating a new Hyper-V replication job

Select the VM you want to replicate. Click Next.

Selecting the Hyper-V VM(s) to be replicated.

Select the destination Hyper-V host and path to store the replica. Click Next.

Selecting the destination Hyper-V host to store the replica.

Check the box if you want to enable Network Mapping. Then click Next.

Network mapping settings for the Hyper-V replication job

Check the box if you want to enable Re-IP, then click Next.

Re-IP settings for Hyper-V VM replication

Set the scheduling options or select the run on demand option. Click Next.

The scheduling options for the Hyper-V replication job

Select the retention settings and click Next.

Retention settings for the Hyper-V replication job.

Configure the replication job options. In the dropdown list select the Enabled option for screenshot verification and check verification options. Click Finish & Run when ready.

Screenshot verification options for replica

If the replication job is completed successfully and the VM can be loaded, you can view the screenshot.

Viewing the screenshot of the VM replication job

Backup Copy Job

Go to the Home page, click Create, and select Backup copy job.

Creating the backup copy job

Select the Hyper-V VM backup(s) you want to copy and click Next.

Selecting the Hyper-V VM backup to be copied.

Select the destination repository to store your backup copy. Click Next.

The destination settings in Hyper-V backup copy

Select the scheduling options and click Next.

The Hyper-V backup copy scheduling options.

Select the retention settings and click Next.

The Hyper-V backup copy retention settings

Specify the backup copy job options, enable screenshot verification, and click Next.

Hyper-V backup copy job options with screenshot verification settings.

After the backup copy has been successfully created, you can see the screenshot of the VM booted from your backup copy.

Viewing the screenshot for the Hyper-V backup copy job

Flash VM Boot

Go to the Home page, click Recover, and select Flash VM boot.

Creating the Flash VM Boot recovery job.

The New Flash Boot Job Wizard is launched.

Select a backup or a Backup Copy, as well as a recovery point, to be instantly recovered by Flash VM Boot. Click Next.

Selecting a Hyper-V backup or Backup Copy

Select the destination, specify the network connection type, and click Next.

Selecting the destination for Flash VM Boot

Select the scheduling settings. In this example, the job is designed to be run on demand – thus, the appropriate box is checked. Click Next.

The Hyper-V Flash VM Boot scheduling settings.

Configure the Flash VM Boot job options. Set the screenshot verification option to Enabled. Click Finish & Run when ready.

Flash VM Boot options with screenshot verification options

After a Flash VM Boot job has been completed successfully, you can click the name of your recovered VM on the job screen and view the screenshot.

Viewing the Hyper-V Flash VM Boot screenshot.

Now you know how to configure screenshot verification in NAKIVO Backup & Replication. Let’s summarize the benefits of this feature.

Benefits of Screenshot Verification

NAKIVO Backup & Replication’s Screenshot Verification feature provides the following benefits:

  • You have peace of mind, knowing your VM backups or replicas are always usable and ready for recovery.
  • The VM backups or replicas are not affected.
  • The feature can be used for both full and incremental backups.
  • Screenshots are verified without connecting to the network, i.e. there are no conflicts.
  • No downtime is required for verification.
  • No significant time investment is involved – the verification process is easily automated and scheduled.
  • Reporting is automated, with post-job reports delivered to your email inbox.

Conclusion

Screenshot Verification for Hyper-V is a useful new feature included in NAKIVO Backup & Replication v7.4. The feature can help you keep all your Hyper-V backups and replications under control while remaining sure that the VMs are functional. With Hyper-V support, the Screenshot Verification feature becomes more universal, allowing you to spend minimal time on configuration and monitoring. Using NAKIVO Backup & Replication with Screenshot Verification increases the overall reliability of your VM data protection system. Download the full-featured Free Trial to try out Screenshot Verification in your own environment.

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