In the test: PHD Virtual Backup for VMware v5.4

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I was asked to review the new release of PHD Virtual Backup for VMware. PHD Virtual is not a new company to me. I evaluated their backup solution back when it was called esXpress in the ESX3.x days.

My Environment

My lab environment consist of 2 HP XW9400 Workstations each equipped with both 2 AMD CPU’s and 16 GB of RAM. Both servers connect with 2x 1Gb Ethernet to my QNAP 4 SATA disks running shared iSCSI storage . Obviously things would perform a bit nicer in a production environment but this is what I have to work with for the time being. Also, PHD supports an architecture that utilizes multiple appliances in order to improve performance and scalability, however my tests were done utilizing a single appliance. Certainly go and get yourself a copy of PHD Virtual Backup and try it in your own environment to see its’ full potential.


I downloaded the zip file from and unpacked the zip file. the zip file contains the Appliance OVF files, the Management Tool, Exporter tool and all relevant PDF files.


First of all read the Installation Document and the PHD Virtual Backup System Requirements:

  • You need VMware vSphere 4.x or 5.x (the free version of ESXi) is not supported.
  • 8 GB free space is required for the VBA’s virtual disk. Additional free space is required if an attached virtual disk is used to store backups.

1. Installing the Management Console

Shutdown your vSphere client and install the PHDVB_Install.exe Management Console with a few simple clicks

2. Deploying the PHD Virtual Backup Appliance

The PHD Virtual Backup Appliance is a small virtual machine that performs the backup and restore processing for the VMs in your environment. Follow the steps below to deploy a PHD VBA to your VMware vSphere host or vCenter Server.

When the deployment completes, power on the PHD Virtual Backup Appliance virtual machine.

      1. Next, ensure the PHD VBA has an IP address assigned. If DHCP is enabled in your environment, the PHD VBA will obtain an IP address automatically and you can continue with step 6, below.If DHCP is not enabled, manually assign an IP address. To do this:
        1. Within vSphere Client, click the PHD VBA virtual machine and then click the Console tab.
        2. Press Ctrl-N to enter the Network Configuration menu.
        3. Select option 2. Static and enter an IP address, netmask, and any other required network settings for your environment (Gateway, Primary DNS, or Alternate DNS)
        4. When complete, click Save, then OK to restart the PHD VBA.
      2. When the PHD VBA has finished booting, open the PHD Virtual Backup Console by right-clicking the PHD VBA virtual machine and selecting PHD Virtual Backup > Console.
        The PHD Virtual Backup Console opens.
      3. From the menu on the left, click Configuration. The Configuration page opens to the General tab. From the Select the appliance to configure menu, select the PHD VBA you just deployed, if not selected already.
      4. In the Appliance Options, set the time zone, region and NTP server addresses, if required. The Data Streams can be adjusted later, if necessary. For the Netherlands I first had to select Europe (Strange?) then Amsterdam.
      5. In the Hypervisor credentials area, enter the credentials the PHD Virtual Backup Appliance will use to perform backups and restores. If you use vCenter to manage your environment, this should be the fully-qualified name or IP address of your vCenter Server. If you are using a standalone ESX or ESXi host, enter that host’s credentials here.
      6. Click the Backup Storage tab.
        Here you will define where to store your backups. Select from the following:
        • CIFS (Common Internet File System): Pre-existing share on a Windows storage device.
        • Attached Virtual Disk (recommended): One or more virtual disks added to the PHD Virtual Backup Appliance VM. The attached disks can be created on local storage or on a hypervisor shared storage location, for example iSCSI or NFS.

In the PHD Virtual Backup Console, click Save then click Yesto restart the PHD VBA. Now your good to go!

A few notes on the appliance:

  • Appliance runs Linux and Postgres – To me this is as good as gold. No windows licenses to take care of, no MSSQL license to worry about.
  • The fact that its an OVF – It’s nice to just import the appliance and configure, rather than have to install a base OS, patch the base OS, install all the pre-requisites for the software, then pull down the software and install it. It’s all done in one simple step for you.

3. In the Test:

I selected my LAB exchange server for backup

after scheduling a new snapshot is created:

In the PHD Appliance Console you can see the complete activity log and active jobs:

PHD Appliance attached the disk to the appliance and starts to backup and dedupe the data.

Bad thing you don’t see the backup speeds and time remaining in the appliance console or the management console, some time it just shows up in the management console like in the picture below:

The speed and dedupe ratio was shown in the details of the finished job but still missing the time it took to take the backup :(:

4. Restore



The Appliance is configured with 1Gb memory, and 1vCPU, In my humble opinion the appliance speed might be improved if you assign 2vCPU or more because of the deduplication processes running on the Appliance.

PHD Backup for VMware is an reasonable good backup appliance. Feels stable but still missing some features compared to other comparable backup solutions. But the best part… It is an appliance. No single Windows or MSSQL license required. It is the fastest and least troublesome installation of all solutions reviewed.

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