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XSINAS: free virtual block-level deduplication backup device for VMWare ESXi

What is it?

XSINAS is a VMWare virtual block-level deduplication device distributed as an .OVA package that can be directly imported into any ESXi server.

Where can I get XSINAS?

XSINAS is publicly available at Download XSINAS

What can I use it for?

Well, when you backup a VM, you are copying over, not only the OS files, which remain unchanged, but user files that mostly remain unchanged as well. Thus by using a block-level deduplication storage device to store your backups you may save a huge amount of space in your disks, and also speed up your backup process. Taking advantage of it will depend on your particular scenario, but some percent points up or down, you'll pass from storing a few Virtual Machine backup folders, asuming the total size is a few hundred gigabytes in size and you backup to a few terabyte disk, to probably some hundreds. As XSINAS is actually a live filesystem, you can recover a given backup at a point in time by just browsing to the backup folder. You can even run your backups from XSINAS.

This can't be so good. What are the real drawbacks?

Where the limits of what you can achieve are, will depend on how powerful your hardware is, but XSINAS will work well even on commodity hardware. You'll have to size the resources you assing to it depending on what hardware you have available and what are the goals that you want to achieve.

Once you try it and see how well it works, you'll probably feel tempted to use it as a general purpose (not only for backups) storage appliance. If you do so, keep in mind that we only recommend XSINAS as a backup device. If you use it as a file server, you'll soon notice that as soon as you have a few users connected, resource consumption grows up rapidly. Deduplication uses a key-value database system to store the blocks of data, and as soon as data grows on disk and users get connected, the CPU usage will grow wild. You can minimize it by using fast SSD drives and assigning more RAM, but still it will be much more resource hungry than a tipical non deduplicated fileserver.

Of course, it you use it as a departmental file server with a few users connected, you can get the most out of it, multiply your storage capacity and simplify your backups by using only one fraction of what it would take to host that volume of data.

What is the best way I can use XSINAS?

We recomend to use it as the target of your VM backups. Mount it as an NFS datastore to your ESXi server and use XSIBACKUP-PRO to store your backups there. Don't run it in the same servers your VMs to backup are. If you have more than one server, let's say two, you can have one copy of XSINAS in each server and make cross backups.
This page was last modified on 2018-08-26

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