A-Z Guide to Restoring Your ESXi Host Configuration

ESXi hosts are really important pieces of virtualization infrastructure. They host ESX/ESXi virtual machines, run all sorts of tools and applications, and provide a very secure platform for managing virtual environments. They also frequently get corrupted, and sometimes they are even accidentally deleted.

So you've got your old server running ESXi and it's been collecting dust in your closet for a year or two now. You have a long list of things you need to do to it before you can turn it back into a productive server. The problem is, you don't know where to start. That's why we decided to write this A-Z guide to help you get back up and running.

There are a lot of ways that a host's configuration can get messed up, and each are different in their own ways (and hopefully in some good ways). In this article, I will walk you through some of the more common ones, and show how to repair them.

In the following article, we will try to understand the specifics of ESXi configuration backup and restore. First of all, it's extremely important not to forget to back up the ESXi server environment when upgrading the hypervisor, and also after major configuration changes (which are frankly pretty rare after the initial server configuration).

Therefore, the most convenient and easy way to back up ESXi host settings is to use the Host Profiles feature. However, this infrastructure is only available for Enterprise Plus and is therefore not discussed in detail. Instead, we focus on managing backups of ESXi hosts using CLI commands.

Backing up and restoring ESXi hosts with PowerCLI

According to most IT professionals, the easiest way to backup the VMware ESXi host system and restore the data is to use special PowerCLI commands:

  • Get-VMHostFirmware – backs up the ESXi configuration.
  • Set-VMHostFirmware – allows the configuration of the hypervisor to be restored from a backup.

Of course Powershell and the vSphere PowerCLI extension must be installed on the administrator's computer. Thus, the procedure for backing up and restoring ESXi hosts via PowerCLI consists of the following steps:

  1. Open the PowerCLI console or run it through PowerShell by running the Add-PSSnapin VMware.VimAutomation.Core command.
  2. Connect to the selected ESXi (or vCenter) server. If the user running the PowerCLI console is authorized to access the above server, a transparent authorization happens. Otherwise, the system will ask you for a username and password.
  3. You can back up the ESXi host server configuration using the Get-VMHostFirmware-BackupConfiguration-DestinationPath C:BackupESXi command.
  4. Remember that the folder C:BackupESXi must be created in advance. When the task runs, a file containing a backup of the ESXi host configuration appears in the C:BackupESXi folder.
  5. You can restore ESXi settings directly with the software command Set-VMHostFirmware-Restore-DestinationPath C:BackupESXi.

Note that restoring the ESXi environment from a backup on the same ESXi version must be done, otherwise the desired result is not guaranteed.

Restore ESXi host with vSphere configuration backup

An excellent backup utility, vSphere Configuration Backup, can be found online and provides the ability to backup VMware vCenter databases in addition to the ESXi VM backup. In the following, we will take a closer look at the vSphere Configuration Backup tool.

vSphereConfiguration Backup Features

The backup and recovery solution considered for the ESXi environment has the following advantages:

  • Automatic backup of different ESXi server configurations.
  • Backup each local database and its settings.
  • Manage restore points and remove outdated ESXi backups.
  • A single file is created for the complete backup of the VMware ESXi environment.
  • The name of the backup archive contains the VMware ESXi build number.
  • Compress backups of the ESXi configuration to save disk space.
  • No installation is required.
  • Encrypts passwords.
  • It can be configured via the Configuration Manager.exe file.

Follow the quick start guide below to back up the ESXi configuration:

  1. Download the vSphere configuration backup from the Internet. Open the archive and locate the Manager.exe configuration file. All settings are made through them.
  2. You then need to add an ESXi or vCenter node. Enter your username and password for access and click Save. If the credentials are entered correctly, you will see that the connection to the host has been successfully established.
  3. This will open a text file containing the script.
  4. On the SQL Database tab, select the database you want to copy and you can immediately test if it is good by clicking the Test Backup icon.
  5. In the Settings section, the user can choose the location of the backup.
  6. Run the vSphere Configuration Backup.exe file. This establishes a connection to the desired ESXi host.

Read the readme file, which contains commands to later restore the backup of the ESXi host environment.

Now that you have learned the two methods for backing up and restoring the ESXi host configuration, it is time to back up the virtual desktops. The best-in-class backup solution from NAKIVO Inc. allows you to back up both virtual machines and physical servers with any operating system.For every single VM in your ESXi host, the “resource groups” assigned to that VM has a limit of 2 vCPUs, 2 GB of RAM, and 2000 MB of vDisks. And while you can always increase these limits to expand your storage/memory/vCPU, you cannot alter the resource allocation. With the introduction of vSphere 6.7, we have a new option to restore your ESXi host configuration to a previous snapshot or a default settings.. Read more about esxi host configuration file location and let us know what you think.

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