Alike Backup – Free for XenServer and Hyper-V

For those who have been following my blog for some time know that I’m a big fan of PHD Virtual Backup or at least used to be. I’ve been following PHD since it’s early days. Unfortunately the company has grown to fast and the superb support has disappeared. Doesn’t matter how great the product is if support doesn’t work, especially when it comes to backup. So I reached out on Twitter and got a tip about Alike Backup for XenServer.

I’ve been running Alike Backup side by side with PHD Virtual Backup and have now decided to go with Alike. The best part, it’s FREE for single host server. That’s perfect for me since I have one XenServer and one Hyper-V server.

The setup is straight forward, the difference is that Alike Backup runs inside a OS and PHD Virtual Backup is an appliance.

First specify the Data Store Location and the credentials.

Then enter your host server settings.

You can also define email notification. This is the setup that works with Gmail.

And the report looks like this, great compression rate.

Then head into schedule jobs and create your backup jobs. A great thing with Alike is the possibility to run Q-Hybrid Backup. Q-Hybrid backups leverage only guest VSS snapshots on all Windows operating systems. Q-Hybrid backups never require any additional space in the XenServer SR to perform, so even systems that are low on space can be fully protected.

So instead of using XenServer Snapshots like PHD you’ve got another option here. If Q-Hybrid backup is not available (the VM is down) it will fall-back to normal hypervisor snapshot.

The biggest problem I see at the Citrix Support forum is this error : “Snapshot chain too long”. This is caused by PHD Virtual Backup and it’s a pain to fix. A great thing with Alike Backup is that you can run a Maintenance Job called Leaf Coalesce which fixes this and also reclaims space on the XenServer storage repositories. This job can be run as part of your normal backup or as a maintenance job.

The overall impression of this backup software and support is very good. The error messages in the System Activity below is caused by “Snapshot chain too long” and has been resolved in my lab.

I like that you can buy Alike Backup directly from their web site if you want their product with support. What I don’t like is that Alike is licensed per hypervisor and not per XenServer Pool like PHD Virtual Backup.

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15 Responses to Alike Backup – Free for XenServer and Hyper-V

  1. Great article, thanks!

    As an Alike user, I’ve got one clarification… you requested a feature: “I would love to see an option where the backup tries Q-Hybrid first and if the VM is off it jumps to the normal Enhanced Backup which uses XenServer Snapshots.”

    It turns out, Alike already has this feature/option. There is a checkbox on Q-Hybrid jobs to do exactly that… If a VM is off Alike will perform an Enhanced backup of that VM.

  2. We’ve been using Alike for a XenServer client of ours since before the Q-Hybrid backups were available. When they first deployed Q-Hybrid backups I was completely on board as that simplified our backup infrastructure greatly unfortunately there were some authentication issues that they worked through in a later update. Their support is great to work with as well in my experience. The support personnel seem to have a direct line of communication to the developers so if your particular setup trips something up then they can get it in front of the eyes of the developers pretty swiftly.

    The one negative I have to say about Alike is the storage infrastructure. They haven’t added a way to have multiple storage repositories without out have to turn up a separate instance of Alike. That complicates the management. I would love to be able to direct remote site backups to a local storage pool rather (or in addition) to backing up over the WAN.

    • I have used it in a local enviroment and the backup solution works perfect and without problems.

      But now I have tried to configure it to “replicate” a remote vm’s to second xen server (my local 100mbps xen server in the office) without success. I haven’t cantacted yet the support but my is a free version without support.

  3. Great article Trond!

    I have been reviewing these both as options for my environment. I was wondering if you could help me out though. I was reading through the forums on Citrix’s site and it seems to be a problem in Xenserver itself:

    http://forums.citrix.com/thread.jspa?threadID=302071&tstart=0

    http://forums.citrix.com/thread.jspa?threadID=287920&tstart=0

    And it seems to stem back to versions 5.5 and 5.6. I like PHD because it does NOT run in an OS because if the OS gets corrupt, you can still obtain backups. Do you know of any articles from Citrix that address the issue directly? I found a Citrix customer who isnt using PHD and has a similar issue.

    http://forums.citrix.com/thread.jspa?threadID=302136&tstart=0

    And nobody from Citrix seems to respond.

    Seems to be still happening in Xenserver 6.1 also:

    http://forums.citrix.com/message.jspa?messageID=1698026

    Any insight would be helpful. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Jim, yes this is a problem both with and without PHD, but it occurs more often when running PHD. The “easiest” way to resolve this is to backup all the VM’s, delete the SR and then restore the VM’s from backup.

  4. Hi folks – just a heads up I am a PHD Virtual employee.

    This is a lively discussion on two options for XenServer backup. We’ve gone ahead and created an article in our Knowledge Base that covers the snapshot error topic in depth.

    Being a snapshot based backup tool, issues with XenServer snapshots can of course affect us too. In the article we review causes of the errors mentioned above, tips to resolve the issue for each cause, and links to Citrix forums you can use as an aid. If all else fails; meaning you run through all the tips/causes in the article, and still experience issues; PHD support will work directly with Citrix support to resolve the issue. Info on how to initiate at the process is at the end of the article.

    You can access the article here: https://phdtechsupport.zendesk.com/entries/24066387-Troubleshooting-XenServer-Snapshot-Issues-SR-BACKEND-FAILURE-44-and-109-

    Hope this helps!

  5. You can also try Vembu Citrix XenServer Backup. With more and more IT Managers taking to Citrix XenServer, we started support for XenServer backup. Along with XenServer, we provide a single unified dashboard for all your Virtual Environments. Ultra fast Backups, Instant restores, Multiple VM selection and Effortless scaling are some of the key features of Vembu’s Citrix Xen Server backup.Try it to know it.
    http://www.vembu.com/products/citrix-xenserver-backup/overview.php

  6. This comment is kind of off topic. But now that Citrix is retiring Workload Balancing. Is there one product that seems to better versus the other when it comes to replacing WLB. I was looking at VMturbo.

  7. Have you looked at Unitrends lately
    They now also have a Citrix Xen solution to do agentless and with agent backups
    It is a Xva file that runs on Xen Server 6.2 or 6.5 and it can backup Citrix Xen, physical servers and Hyper-V

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