Clone/Back Up/Restore OpenVZ VMs With vzdump

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

vzdump is a backup and restore utility for OpenVZ VMs. This tutorial shows how you can use it to clone/back up/restore virtual machines with vzdump.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

I'm using two OpenVZ servers in this tutorial:

  • IP
  • IP

(Both are using Debian Etch and are set up according to this tutorial: Installing And Using OpenVZ On Debian Etch - but it works with any other distribution as well.)

I'm running a virtual machine with the hostname, the IP address and the VEID 102 on, and I want to back up that machine and restore it on

We can restore it on with no changes (e.g. same IP address and hostname), but in that case we must stop the VM on because otherwise the IP address and hostname would conflict; the second possibility is to restore it on, but change some parameters like the IP address and hostname with the vzctl set command - in this case we can run both VMs (the original one on and the clone on at the same time. This is a great method to clone VMs.


2 Preparing The OpenVZ Servers

First we must install vzdump and rsync which is a dependency. On Debian, the command is as follows:


apt-get install vzdump rsync  


3 Creating A Backup Of A VM

(This chapter is for server1 only!)

On, I want to create a backup of my VM with the VEID 102. Take a look at

man vzdump

to learn how to use vzdump.

To back up all VMs on your server, you'd use something like

vzdump --compress --dumpdir /home/backup --stop --all

--compress means: compress the dump file (results in a .tgz).

--dumpdir specifies the directory in which you want to store the dump. If you don't specify a dumpdir, it defaults to /vz/dump or /var/lib/vz/dump (depends on your distribution).

--stop stops the VM, creates the backup, and starts it again afterwards. Your VM can be down a few minutes if you use --stop. A faster solution would be to use...

--suspend: it suspends the VM; the VM is then copied via rsync to a temporary directory. The VM gets resumed right afterwards so that it's down only a few seconds, and then the dump is created using the copy in the temporary directory. I recommend to use this one if you can't afford long downtimes.

You can as well leave out --stop and --suspend and dump a running VM. In most cases this makes no problem, but it is possible that the dump is inconsistent, so be warned!

--all creates a dump of all available VMs. If you want to dump only a specific VM, replace --all with the VEID of the VM.

To create a dump of our VM 102 in /home/backup and stop the VM during the backup, use

vzdump --compress --dumpdir /home/backup --stop 102

To create a dump in the default directory (/vz/dump or /var/lib/vz/dump), use

vzdump --compress --stop 102

The output could look as follows:

server1:/vz/dump# vzdump --compress --stop 102
INFO: starting backup for VPS 102 (/var/lib/vz/private/102)
INFO: starting first sync /var/lib/vz/private/102 to /var/lib/vz/dump/tmp9009
INFO: stopping vps
Stopping container ...
Container was stopped
Container is unmounted
INFO: final sync /var/lib/vz/private/102 to /var/lib/vz/dump/tmp9009
INFO: restarting vps
Starting container ...
Container is mounted
Adding IP address(es):
Setting CPU units: 1000
Configure meminfo: 65536
Set hostname:
File resolv.conf was modified
Container start in progress...
INFO: vps is online again after 15 seconds
INFO: Creating archive '/var/lib/vz/dump/vzdump-102.tgz' (/var/lib/vz/dump/tmp9009/102)
Total bytes written: 340428800 (325MiB, 11MiB/s)
INFO: backup for VPS 102 finished successful (1.37 minutes)

To not stop, but suspend the VM, use

vzdump --compress --suspend 102

This is a sample output:

server1:~# vzdump --compress --suspend 102
INFO: starting backup for VPS 102 (/var/lib/vz/private/102)
INFO: starting first sync /var/lib/vz/private/102 to /var/lib/vz/dump/tmp10842
INFO: suspend vps
Setting up checkpoint...
        get context...
Checkpointing completed succesfully
INFO: final sync /var/lib/vz/private/102 to /var/lib/vz/dump/tmp10842
INFO: resume vps
INFO: vps is online again after 4 seconds
INFO: Creating archive '/var/lib/vz/dump/vzdump-102.tgz' (/var/lib/vz/dump/tmp10842/102)
Total bytes written: 340428800 (325MiB, 24MiB/s)
INFO: backup for VPS 102 finished successful  (1.57 minutes)

After the backup, take a look at the dump directory...

ls -l /vz/dump/

... and you should see a .tgz file:

server1:~# ls -l /vz/dump/
total 147864
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root      1170 2008-11-20 17:40 vzdump-102.log
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 151249685 2008-11-20 17:40 vzdump-102.tgz

You can now copy the dump to the other OpenVZ server, e.g. with scp (this copies /vz/dump/vzdump-102.tgz to the /home directory on

scp /vz/dump/vzdump-102.tgz [email protected]:/home 


4 Restoring A VM

(This chapter is for server2 only!)

On, you can now restore the VM as follows...

vzdump --restore /home/vzdump-102.tgz 250

... where 250 is the new VEID of the restored VM - you can use any VEID that is unused on - you could even use 102 again if it is unused on

If you don't want to modify the settings of the VM (e.g. IP address, hostname), you can start it now, but please make sure that the original VM is stopped on because otherwise the IP addresses conflict:

vzctl start 250

If you want to run both VMs (the original one and the clone) at the same time, you must change the IP address and hostname of the clone before you start it.

To set a new hostname, run sonething like this:

vzctl set 250 --hostname --save

To set a new IP address, we must first delete the original one...

vzctl set 250 --ipdel --save

... and then set a new one:

  vzctl set 250 --ipadd --save   

Afterwards we can start the clone:

vzctl start 250


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4 Comment(s)

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By: Anonymous

vzdump --restore was not available in my case, I used vzrestore instead with same results.

By: Karl

Same here, restore option for vzdump doesnt exists.

By: Mark

Hey , very interesting post, it really got me thinking. Thank you.

By: till

In later versions, the --restore option of the vzdump command has been replaced with a separate command: