PHD Virtual Enables Low Cost, Multi-hypervisor Backups

Whether you’re just wrapping up your initial virtual server rollout or looking to shore up the data protection process, selecting the right backup solution for virtual environments can be a challenge. To address this, most IT managers have given up on legacy backup vendors and are instead looking for lower cost, more virtualized, environment-specific applications.

One of these, PHD Virtual, makes a software suite for backing up and monitoring virtual, physical and cloud environments, targeted at companies in the SMB space, departmental users and the enterprise. The backup solution can support VMWare and Citrix hypervisors, with Hyper-V support coming in the near future. This gives users a multi-hypervisor data protection solution with a single interface. PHD Virtual has over 5000 customers and has enjoyed ten consecutive quarters of record revenue growth.

Virtual Backup Appliance

PHD Virtual Backup is an agent-less solution which installs and configures in ten minutes without the need for training or documentation, according to the company. Their virtual backup appliance (VBA), a very small Linux-based VM, replaces the backup and proxy servers many other backup solutions require, and needs no additional hardware or OS licenses.

The solution provides deduplication at the backup data source, deduplicating across all VMs on each host target. This means greater data reduction (a 25:1 dedupe ratio is common, according to the company), driving lower storage and bandwidth consumption. Its ability to multi-stream backup jobs and to run backup and restore jobs concurrently improves backup performance and reduces its impact on production. The product also leverages VMware’s hot add and change block tracking to improve backup efficiency.

The VBA can be configured to use multiple backup modes to optimize performance and efficiency to many different types of storage. The “Virtual Full” mode provides true forever incremental backups with advanced retention and global deduplication. The more traditional full + incremental backup scheme can be used for target-side deduplication devices and off-site storage, such as the cloud.


PHD Virtual can expose files in seconds from an image-based backup, providing file- and application-level restores easily. Or users can choose “Instant Recovery” and start VMWare VMs from the backup data store to get applications running quickly. Then, Storage VMotion or PHD Motion can be used to move the VM to production storage. “Rollback Recovery” can provide an incremental restore, rolling a VM back to a point in time by restoring changes to existing VMs, giving users faster access to data and leaving the original VM in place.


PHD scales to handle more backup capacity and more virtual hosts by adding more VBAs. Besides the obvious savings on hardware and software, this kind of seamless, ‘scale out’ architecture is simple to deploy and allows processing power to increase with capacity. And as a virtual appliance, it’s integrated into the hypervisor management console providing a single point of management for VM backup and recovery.

Application aware backups

Users can choose the option to quiesce applications before running the backup, using MS Volume Shadow Copy Service for VSS-aware applications, to assure an application consistent backup is created. They can also have PHD Virtual perform database log truncation after the backup job completes to preserve storage space or can run custom scripts.

Data verification

To ensure that backed up data can be recovered, PHD has a feature called “TrueRestore” which checks data integrity at the block level during both the backup and restore processes. Similarly, VM integrity is confirmed by using their Instant VM Recovery technology to boot VMs directly from the backup target. An additional form of integrity verification is that they enable replicated VMs to be run in a test mode to assure they’re still recoverable in the event of a disaster.

Storage Swiss Take

Providing an enterprise-level backup solution for the virtual environment at a reasonable cost requires more than just setting prices low, the architecture must support those lower costs. Using a VM-based virtual backup appliance PHD Virtual saves on hardware and licensing costs up front and as the environment scales. Plus, it reduces operational costs by simplifying the infrastructure and providing several restore options. Leveraging multiple data reduction technologies also helps minimize storage and networking costs. When you add other features like support for multiple hypervisors, data verification and replication, (plus the company’s claim of a 40% lower price), PHD Virtual is a solution that should certainly be considered.

PHD Virtual is not a client of Storage Switzerland

Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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