Overview - VM Archiving

VM archiving is a comprehensive solution that incorporates traditional backup and virtual machine archiving in a single operation. Shutting down, relocating, and archiving inactive virtual machines can solve the problem of virtual machine sprawl, when virtual machines are created but not cleaned up; this issue is especially common in development and testing environments.

The System Discovery and Archive Analyzer for VMware vCenter is a non-intrusive and highly secure tool that collects information about virtual machines for a VMware vCenter. The tool collects information such as virtual machine size, performance metrics, and power off days and status, and collects information that you can submit to create a CommVault Virtual Machine Analytics Report. This report enables you to analyze VM usage, predict the results of using VM archiving, and estimate disk space savings that would be reclaimed by archiving.

Archiving Process

VM archiving enables you to manage virtual resources automatically using archiving rules. You can use a three-stage process to free up resources and storage.

  1. Shut down virtual machines based on resource usage as identified by key vCenter resource indicators. VM resource management criteria can be used to power off VMs based on the virtual machine's CPU usage, disk usage, and network usage. Powering down inactive virtual machines frees up resources on ESX hosts.
  2. Relocate powered off virtual machines from expensive Tier 1 disks to Tier 2 disk storage or tape, using the VMware Storage vMotion capability. This is sometimes referred to as VM migration. When you relocate VMs, you can archive them at the same time, or as a separate step.
  3. Archive powered off virtual machines. As part of virtual machine archiving, virtual machine disks are deleted from the ESX server when the backup is completed. When a virtual machine is archived, the Annotations section of the virtual machine's Summary tab in the vCenter client shows Archived: Yes. VMDKs are deleted, freeing up the space that had been allocated to them on the datastore. Virtual machine configurations are retained on the production storage or ESX, which points to the backed up data.

Each of these options is configured on the same screen, and can be performed immediately or after a specified number of days. Once configured, archiving is performed as part of the normal backup cycle.

Based on retention settings, data for archived virtual machines can be pruned or retained by the MediaAgent.

Archived virtual machines are available for quick and easy retrieval by administrators and end users (VM recovery). End users can also recover a virtual machine from the Web Console. Archived virtual machines can be recovered as complete virtual machines, virtual machine disks (VMDKs), files, and folders.  A virtual machine can be restored to the same ESX or a different ESX; VMDKs can be restored to the datastore of an ESX using the Attach Disk to Existing VM feature.

Key Benefits

  • Power down virtual machines automatically based on resource usage.
  • Automatically relocate powered down virtual machines and VMDKs to less expensive storage.
  • Archive virtual machines based on rules to remove virtual machines and VMDKs from ESX servers and datastores, with stubs to point to archived data.
  • Automatically prune archived data from the backup cycle after a specified retention period.
  • Recover archived virtual machines, disks, and files through the CommCell Console.
  • Recover complete virtual machines or files using the Web Console (for end users of virtual machines). 


What Gets Archived What Does Not Get Archived
Virtual machines


Linked clone virtual machines.

Virtual machines with physical or virtual RDM.

Virtual machines with independent disks.

Virtual machine templates.

Snapshots are not retained when a virtual machine is archived.


What Is Supported What Is Not Supported
Archiving for VMware virtual machines

User interfaces:

  • CommCell Console
  • Web Console
Virtual machines are not archived if disk filters are enabled for the subclient.

Virtual machine archiving is not supported for SnapProtect.