You will need to adapt this to your specific environment, especially depending on how much resources you have available, however this guide takes you through the most important configurations that are often overlooked too.
Setting up the VM Hosts
The Altaro VM Backup Management Console can be utilised to add and manage all hosts, Hyper-V & VMware, in one console. However these hosts must be in the same LAN; so essentially if you have multiple sites you must have one instance of Altaro VM Backup on each site.
To manage these multiple installations, you can utilise the 'Central Monitoring Console' where you'll be able to monitor as well as manage these Altaro VM Backup installations remotely.
With Altaro VM Backup, you have the functionality to set up an Offsite Copy Location, which is a redundant/secondary copy of your backups. There are multiple options of how this can be set up, you can choose a Physical Drive connected to the management console; Drive Rotation/Swap which enables you to set up a pool of drives/network paths; a Network Path (LAN Only) or else to an offsite location via a WAN/VPN/Internet connection, which is an ideal tool for Disaster Recovery purposes.
Setting up an offsite copy location is as crucial as setting up backups to a primary location. Apart from the obvious reason that you'll have a redundant set of backups to restore from, should the local backups become unusable due to disk corruption or other disk failures. Having a secondary copy of your backup sets also allows you to keep a broader history for your VM backups on your secondary location and you'll be able to go further back when restoring if required.
Altaro VM Backup makes use of Augmented In-line Deduplication. It's highly recommended to enable this from the 'Advanced Settings' screen as this will essentially ensure that any common data blocks across virtual machines are only written to the backup location once. This helps by saving a considerable amount of space and also makes backups much quicker since common information is only transferred once.
Boot From Backup
The Boot From Backup drive option comes along with 2 options, either 'Verification Mode' or 'Recovery Mode'. This is a very good option in order to get your RTO down since you're able to boot up the VM immediately from a backup location and start a restore in the background as well.
However it's very important that if you are planning to do this, you'll need a fast backup location that can handle the I/O of a booted VM that's essentially going into production. It's also worth noting that when the VM has finished restoring it's suggested to restart the restored VM as soon as you get a chance in order to switch to the restored drives, which would have faster I/O throughput.
E-mail notifications are a simple and effective method of monitoring the backup status, yet it’s often overlooked. Setting up these notifications will provide you with a quick overview of the status over your of your backup jobs, hence – you won’t need to login into the Altaro Management console every day to confirm the backup status.
This way you’ll be alerted of any backup failures, allowing you to address said issues before the next backup schedule. Thereby ensuring that you always have a restorable backup point; so as a general best practice, always monitor your backup notifications.
Master Encryption Key
The Master Encryption Key in Altaro is utilised to encrypt the backups using AES 256-bit. It's used if you choose to encrypt the local backups from the 'Advanced Settings' screen, while if you're configuring offsite copies it must be used as offsite copies must be encrypted.
Altaro VM Backup will require the encryption key upon restoring, so it's critical that you either remember it or take note of it in a secure password manager as there is no method of recovery for the master encryption key.
Scheduled Test Drills
Altaro VM Backup has the ability to run manual or automated verification of your backup data. This allows you to run scheduled verification jobs that will check the integrity of your backups on your backup location, or schedule full VM restores so that you can actually boot up the VM and confirm that everything works as expected. The VM will be restored with the NIC disabled so as to avoid IP conflicts with the production machine as well.
Failure of storage devices is not uncommon, therefore scheduling test drills is strongly advised for added peace-of-mind. Full instructions on configuring test drills: http://goo.gl/kWOmm2