KVM Offline Backups

I use KVM in my production servers. But there are some critical questions with KVM usage. Backup process of running virtual machines may be top most question of KVM users. Although, there are many other solutions in the literature, I will discuss more defensive method in this article. Before I move on to details of backing-up VMs, I will first mention the building blocks I used in this method.


This is the hypervisor.  It supports live snapshot which is crucial for backup process.


A Snapshot of a virtual machine holds the state-of virtual machine at the time of snapshot is taken. This state is mainly about hard drive but if live snapshot is the case, VM’s all registers, memory and kernel buffers are stored into the snapshot.

There are two types of snapshots in KVM.  Internal snapshot is stored in virtual machines disk file, for instance if VM’s disk is named centos.qcow2 then snapshot will be saved within centos.qcow2. External shapshot is not saved into VM’s disk namely centos.qcow2. So snapshot is saved to the location specified with the snapshot command.

Both internal and external snapshots supports online (live) and offline (turned-off) backups.

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