Backing up VmWare VM without powering off

Here’s a sequence of commands in an ssh session to an ESXi host that creates a VM backup without interrupting its work. Of course it’s only a snapshot of the disk, so there may be corrupted files as a result. vmkfstools command requires full file path for the source and destination VMDK files.

# This lists all virtual machines and their IDs. 
# Further in this example, our VM is number 18
vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms

cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/VMNAME 
vim-cmd vmsvc/snapshot.create 18 mybackup
mkdir /vmfs/volumes/nas1/backup/VMNAME
vmkfstools -i VMNAME.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/nas1/backup/VMNAME/VMNAME.vmdk
cp VMNAME.vmx /vmfs/volumes/nas1/backup/VMNAME/
vim-cmd vmsvc/snapshot.removeall 18

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