Cool tool: Unitrends Free Edition. Backup Up to 1TB Free!

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artB0F8I’m currently testing the new (currently in beta) Unitrends FREE Edition in my home lab to see if this new cool free backup appliance is anything that you should try? Yes, you should. read more about it below:

About Unitrends Free Edition

Unitrends Free Edition deploys on a server running ESXi 5.0, 5.1, 5.5, Hyper-V 2012 or Hyper-V 2012 R2. The appliance is deployed using an .EXE installer. You must run the installer from a Windows machine on which you have both .NET Framework v3.5 and v4 installed.

Unitrends Community Edition deploys as a Linux based (CentOS6) VM with a big backup disk attached that hosts the backups. It is recommended that you run your Unitrends backup appliance on different storage than your “production” VMs to avoid losing your backups if that VMFS datastore fails.

What, FREE?

Yes Free! Unitrends is giving away FREE VM Backup! >Up to 1TB of protected capacity >Unlimited VMs, sockets, and retention >Automated scheduling

What you’ll get

  • Instant VM Recovery – Quickly run a virtual machine directly from a backup to reduce downtime.  Additionally, you can use Instant VM Recovery to spin up copies of your virtual machines for recovery verification or test and development purposes.
  • Automated Daily Scheduling – Set it and forget it scheduling with daily recovery points keeps you protected, even when you’re not around.
  • Fast,  Incremental Forever Backups – Keep your environment protected EVERY DAY.  Changed-block tracking and forever incremental backups ensure your backups complete fast and only process changed data after the first backup.
  • Unitrends Community Integration – Free forum support from the Unitrends Community.  Directly integrated into the user interface, you can search the forum and work with our community to help each other and earn great prizes and rewards

Support for Community Edition is provided through the Community Edition forums. The forums are a key component of Unitrends Community Edition. We encourage you to post questions in the forums and answer questions posted by other Community Edition users. You can access the forums here: https://unitrendssupport.force.com/CommunityEdition/s/

Next, The Install

Download the installer here.

Start the Unitrends installer executable (1.8GB) and follow instructions to deploy the appliance to your vCenter Server.

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When the installer is finished. You are being redirect to the browser to configure the appliance time zone, password and E-mail settings:

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and after a few next, next, finish, voila, a nice looking fully html5 web based GUI!

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When you insert a new password at the deployment, the root password on the appliance does not change.

You must enter the following default credentials when you want to log in to the appliance:
Username: root
Password: unitrends1

Updates

I figured my freshly installed Unitrends appliance could use some updates. I found a nice update button in the right corner that found 4 updates and updated my appliance within a couple of minutes.

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The GUI

A very well written intuitive HTML5 GUI (kudo’s!) was developed by Unitrends to get the interface how it should be. This is definitely a +

Active Jobs
I do miss a small details window when I click on the job. also a petty that the job window is not displaying the backup speed of the job on the homepage.

Full backups capture everything on the VM. Incremental backups capture any changes in the VM data since the last backup was performed using Change Block Tracking. After backing up a VM you can recover individual files, recover the entire VM or perform an instant recovery, which enables you to begin using a recovered VM immediately while its data is migrated from the appliance to your hypervisor.

Recovering VM backups

There are three options for recovering virtual machine backups:

  • Recover individual files
  • Recover an entire virtual machine
  • Perform an instant recovery

I tested all three. You can recover files from a backup, for VMs running Windows or Linux, you can perform a file-level recovery. To recover files for VMs running other operating systems, you must recover the entire virtual machine.

Recovering individual files

  • For Windows VMs, the file level recovery object is exposed as both a SMB share and an iSCSI LUN. I tested the SMB share and it was available almost instantly and I could just copy the files from the share as I needed.
  • For Linux VMs, it is exposed as an iSCSI LUN. For the second part of the recovery process, you must mount the share or LUN on the restore target and then copy the files you want to recover.

The iSCSI recovery seems a bit weird. If you don’t use iSCSI at all you need to install iSCSI initiators on your Linux or Windows VMs to be able to quickly recover files. For windows VMs the recovery thru SMB works great btw.

Recover an entire virtual machine

It’s possible to restore an entire virtual machine and overwrite the old VM, or just restore the VM with a new name.

Instant recovery

The instant recovery feature enables you to recover a virtual machine and start using the VM almost immediately.
An instant recovery job uses a backup to recreate the VM in the target location and then migrates the data from a disk image on the appliance to the VM.

In my test, the VM was operational as soon as it booted on the hypervisor. There is no need to wait for the data restore / migration to complete before using it.

My 2 Cents

Unitrends has done an outstanding job on the new Free Community version. I love the HTML5 GUI! and I absolutely love the fact that it’s only limited factor is the protected capacity of 1TB. Also there is no need for a windows license or a database server to get the appliance software up and running.

For future versions I would recommend that the job windows should be much more interactive. It’s hard to see if a job is running and at what speed. You need to zoon in more closely into the job to get that kind of information. Overall a very good FREE product (did I tell you it’s free? :)) to try in your home lab.

Now start downloading Unitrends Community Edition from here. And create an account in the community forums.

About Marco Broeken

Marco Broeken is Author of this blog and owner of vSpecialist Consulting and has 20 years experience in IT. Marco has been rewarded with the vExpert status from 2011 - 2018.

Comments

  1. Thomas says:

    Hello from germany, your article sounds great, but in reality the combination of vmwares free esxi and unitrends free backup solution (v9.0) is nearly useless. (I am an enthusiastic home user of both solutions)
    The free edition of vmwares esxi does not support “snapshot-backup”-functionality, so you have to install unitrends agent in all virtual machines to be able to run backup jobs of your virtual machines. – After that, you can restore files only, entire vm restore is not possible due to the limitations of vmwares free esxi. – So you would have to use unitrends “bare metal recovery” to restore an entire virtual machine to a blank disk, but, and this is funny: Unitrends free version does not support bare metal recovery. – So, i case of total data loss, you have latest unitrends backups, but you cannot restore these backups to a blank disk/new machine, because of the limitations of the free unitrends version…
    I guess, in my case (or for home users in general) the better way is to go for the free “Veeam Endpoint Backup”-Solution. – Instead of installing the unitrends agent to all virtual machines i have to install the “veaam enpoint backup”-client to all machines, but recover to a blank disk should be possible with the free veeam solution.

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