Virtualization with Macrium Reflect — Part 5
In this series of blogs, we have discussed how to move a physical server into a virtualized environment, using a variety of hypervisors:
Citrix Xen: Virtualization with Macrium Reflect — part 3
We have also discussed some of the advantages of doing this: centralised management, lower power consumption, scalability and in some cases, improved resilience.
In the final blog post in this series, we will be discussing Macrium Reflect’s tool, viBoot, and how it can be used to almost instantly create a Hyper-V virtual machine using a backup image. This is done by creating two Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk (VHDX) files for each disk that is described in the selected Macrium Image File:
- The first disk that is created contains the relevant information to describe the disk layout and signature to mark it as a viBoot VHDX. The data for the disk is retrieved from the relevant Macrium Image File by the Macrium Virtual Disk Provider filter driver as required. Since the data is not actually stored in this VHDX file, the size will remain small.
- The second VHDX file is a differencing disk that will receive any modifications made during the lifetime of the virtual machine. This disk size can rapidly increase depending on the usage of the virtual machine.
The default location for these two VHDX files is C:\ProgramData\Macrium\viBoot. However, this location can be configured in the Macrium viBoot UI.
To use viBoot, you will need to have the Hyper-V feature enabled in Windows. The article linked below contains details of how to enable this feature if you haven’t done so already:
Note: viBoot only supports Microsoft Hyper-V running on a minimum of Windows 8.0 or Windows Server 2012.
Once Hyper-V has been enabled, you can now add viBoot to your Macrium Reflect installation, if you did not install it during your initial setup. To install viBoot on an existing Macrium Reflect installation, open the Windows Control Panel then select ‘Programs’.
This will open a list of programs that you have installed. Select your Macrium Reflect installation and then select ‘Change’.
This will open the ‘Modify, Repair or Remove’ wizard. Select ‘Next’, you will then be presented with three options:
Select ‘Modify’, then select the checkbox next to ‘Install viBoot’. Once you have followed the wizard to completion, you will have viBoot installed.
To start using viBoot, you will first need an image that can be used to boot the virtual machine. If you have not already created your image, please see the article below:
Now that you have installed viBoot, you will notice that the option is no longer greyed out in the ‘Restore’ tab when viewing the image that you have created.
Selecting this will open the ‘Hyper-V VM Settings. This is where you will configure the virtual hardware settings for your virtual machine you are about to create.
These settings should be changed depending on the contents of the image and the purpose of the virtual machine you are about to create. If the computer that was imaged had more powerful hardware, you may want to assign more startup RAM and Processors to the virtual machine. You can also set a custom name to make distinguishing this virtual machines from others easier, by default this name will be ‘viBoot — [NAME OF YOUR IMAGE].mrimg’. Once you are happy with your choices, select ‘Finish’ and your virtual machine will be created.
Once your virtual machine has been created, it will open automatically. You now have a virtual machine at the point in time that your image was created.
Your viBoot virtual machines can then be easily managed using the viBoot dashboard.
By selecting ‘New’, you can easily create more virtual machine based off your images.
Once the machine is in an Off state, the ‘Backup…’ button can be selected to create an new image of the virtual machine.
Delete allows you to delete the virtual machines that you no longer need. This also gives you the option to create a backup before the virtual machine is deleted.
Why use viBoot?
There is a massive number of practical applications for rapidly booting a virtual machine from a backup image. However, we will mainly talk about three scenarios where we often see viBoot used.
Recovery — An example we often see is users booting an image in viBoot, temporarily replacing their broken physical machine with a virtual machine, that takes over from the point in time where the image was created. With minimal configuration, your virtual machine can replace your physical machine while it is repaired. This can help mitigate potential hardware failure in scenarios where downtime can have disastrous consequences.
Making Changes to an Image — With viBoot, it is possible to boot an image make changes to the files contained within the image, and then create a new image using the ‘Backup…’ option. This new image will include any changes that you have made. By doing this, you can make any necessary changes to your image, before restoring it back to hardware.
Fast Physical to Virtual — Throughout this series, we have discussed the steps necessary to create a virtual machine, boot it with the Rescue Media, and then restore an image of your physical servers to that virtual machines. Using viBoot the virtual machine is created in the exact state the source machine was in when the backup was run, removing the need to boot the virtual machine into the Rescue Environment to then perform a restore. This can save large amounts of time if you intend to migrate several physical servers into a virtual environment. You can even manage these virtual machines in ‘Hyper-V Manager’ once they have been created.
More information on viBoot can be found in the KnowledgeBase article below: