Q: To back up SQL Server and Exchange Server servers virtualized with Hyper-V and protected by System Center Data Protection Manager, do I run the DPM agent within the VM or can I just back up at the Hyper-V host level with DPM?

A: System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) offers great backup, continuous protection, and recovery for key Microsoft workloads such as Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, File Servers, desktops, and Hyper-V. As part of the recovery process, DPM allows item-level recovery from protected workloads, such as restoring a specific SharePoint page or specific SQL Server database instead of the entire server.

DPM also supports backup at the Hyper-V host level. When a backup is performed, the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) request that's issued on the Hyper-V host is actually passed to all the virtual machines (VMs) through the Hyper-V integration services.

This ensures the data integrity of the VM backup on the Hyper-V host, because when the VM sees the VSS request it writes all data to disk then pauses writes until the backup is complete

If a DPM backup is performed at the Hyper-V host level, the only restore option would mean restoring the entire VM or files from the VM, but this wouldn't include items that are application specific, such as a SharePoint document or specific SQL Server database.

For application-aware restorations, the DPM protection agent needs to be running within the actual VM that's running the application.

(By the way, we do more than Windows--check out all of John Savill's FAQs for Windows.)

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