Difference between revisions of "VMA"

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==PVE has a new format for vm backups (since 2.3): VMA==
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== VMA backup format ==
  
Since the 2.3 release PVE has a new format for its very powerful vm backup feature: .vma, replacing the old one, the common .tar format.
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Since the 2.3 release PVE has a new format for its very powerful vm backup feature: .vma, replacing the old one, the common .tar format. As with the old .tar, also .vma files can be compressed in .lzo or .gz format.  
  
As with the old .tar, also .vma is stored compressed, in .lzo format (in the old days it was .gz).
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You can read more about Backup and Restore in http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Backup_and_Restore
  
You can read about Backup and Restore in http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Backup_and_Restore but other pages may describe other related aspects,
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== The reasons for the switch from tar  ==
you can find them doing a [http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Special:Search?search=backup wiki search for the 'backup' word]
 
  
What you will find below are informations about the new .vma format.
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PVE  supports various storage models (some of them still in experimental flavor): lvm, sheepdog, ceph, local, nfs, iscsi, and can allow for usage of raw, qcow, vmdk, images and so on.  
  
==About this page==
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see, amongst the other wiki pages:  
At the moment detailed technical info about this brand new format are not officially available, and you can only find some discussions in the forums, or soem early tech doc in the proxmox git repository: this page aims at collect the most useful info around for users, just to let them know what .vma is, why is here, how to deal or not deal with it, and such :-)
 
  
===The reasons for the switch from tar===
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*https://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Storage
PVE nowadays supports various storage models (some of them still in experimental flavour): lvm, sheepdog, ceph, local, nfs, iscsi, and can allow for usage of raw, qcow, vmdk, images and so on.
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*https://pve.proxmox.com/pve-docs/chapter-pveceph.html
  
see, amongst the other wiki pages:
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The main reason for developing a brand new format for vm backup, was to being able to use just one format, and efficiently, in particular when it comes to snapshots usage, which can also be done in a number of ways depending on the storage model, which showed drawbacks with the plain old standard .tar format, and .vma try to address and efficiently allow one single backup behavior.  
* http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Storage_Model
 
* http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Storage:_Sheepdog
 
* http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Storage:_Ceph
 
  
The main reason for developing a brand new format for vm backup, was to being able to use just one format, and efficiently, in particular when it comes to snapshots usage, which can also be done in a number of ways depending on the storage model, which showed drawbacks with the plain old standard .tar format, and .vma try to address and efficiently allow one single backup behaviour.
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There is a very detailed explanation of those reasons available
 +
[https://git.proxmox.com/?p=pve-qemu.git;a=blob;f=backup.txt here].
 +
Here is a short summary:
  
There is a very detailed explanation of those reasono, currently here [https://git.proxmox.com/?p=qemu.git;a=blob_plain;f=docs/backup.txt;hb=backup only in the proxmox git], but here is a summary:
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*Most VM backup solutions use some kind of snapshot to get a consistent VM view at a specific point in time (eg: LVM snapshots, qcow2 snapshot, qemu livebackup), but they can involve considerable overhead, in different ways.
  
* Most VM backup solutions use some kind of snapshot to get a consistent VM view at a specific point in time (eg: LVM snapshots, qcow2 snapshot, qemu
+
*Some storage types/formats supports internal snapshots using some kind of reference counting (rados, sheepdog, dm-thin, qcow2). It would be possible to use that for backups, but for now we want to be storage-independent.  
livebackup), but they can involve considerable overhead, in different ways.
 
* Some storage types/formats supports internal snapshots using some kind of reference counting (rados, sheepdog, dm-thin, qcow2). It would be possible
 
to use that for backups, but for now we want to be storage-independent.
 
* There is the need of a way to be more efficient, and avoid any unnecessary step, but to make that work, the backup archive need to be able to store image
 
data 'out of order', although this will not work with traditional archive formats like tar.
 
* The new method/format allows for very good performance, works on any storage type and image format, doe not need temporary storage, it is simple archive format, which is able to store sparse files efficiently.
 
  
So it's easy to understand that the aim is to get a good, simple, efficient and consistent backup behaviour, more specifically suited to the vm backup, onlike the old traditional file/folder tools!
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*There is the need of a way to be more efficient, and avoid any unnecessary step, but to make that work, the backup archive need to be able to store image data 'out of order', although this will not work with traditional archive formats like tar.
  
===The VMA format specification===
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*The new method/format allows for very good performance, works on any storage type and image format, doe not need temporary storage, it is simple archive format, which is able to store sparse files efficiently.
As said before, there are not many info about .vma around just now, so this is all can be found on proxmox git repository, just to gave an idea
 
  
<<
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So it's easy to understand that the aim is to get a good, simple, efficient and consistent backup behavior, more specifically suited to the vm backup, unlike the old traditional file/folder tools!
====Virtual Machine Archive format (VMA)====
 
This format contains a header which includes the VM configuration as
 
binary blobs, and a list of devices (dev_id, name).
 
  
The actual VM image data is stored inside extents. An extent contains
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== The VMA format specification  ==
up to 64 clusters, and start with a 512 byte header containing
 
additional information for those clusters.
 
  
We use a cluster size of 65536, and use 8 bytes for each
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The format details can be found [https://git.proxmox.com/?p=pve-qemu.git;a=blob;f=vma_spec.txt here].
cluster in the header to store the following information:
 
  
* 1 byte dev_id (to identity the drive)
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== Command line utility  ==
* 1 byte not used (reserved)
 
* 2 bytes zero indicator (mark zero regions (16x4096))
 
* 4 bytes cluster number
 
  
We only store non-zero blocks (such block is 4096 bytes).
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~# vma
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usage: vma command [command options]
 +
 +
vma list &lt;filename&gt;
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vma create &lt;filename&gt; [-c config] &lt;archive&gt; pathname ...
 +
vma extract &lt;filename&gt; [-v] [-r &lt;fifo&gt;] &lt;targetdir&gt;
 +
vma verify &lt;filename&gt; [-v]
  
Each archive is marked with a uuid. The archive header and all
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== Things to be aware of  ==
extent headers includes that uuid and a MD5 checksum (over header
 
data).
 
  
>>
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Please note that as the data is written in a out of order fashion, tools like rdiff will not be able to compute
 +
a delta between VMA files properly, crating a very large diff.
 +
https://forum.proxmox.com/threads/vma-archive-restore-outside-of-proxmox.14226/#post-76387
  
===Things to be aware of===
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if you need to extract a VMA file outside a proxmox environment, follow these steps:
 +
see (all) this thread: https://forum.proxmox.com/threads/vma-archive-restore-outside-of-proxmox.14226/
  
Using well-known archive formats like the old tar.gz allowsed (mainly) linux users to take advantage of a number of tools already available, such as rdiff to do off-site incremental backups, but now everyone should be aware that the new vma backup file is unique with no similarity to the vma from the old backup, so always the full file needs to be moved to the remote location. This means that rdiff will not be able anymore to easily spot "diffs" between two similar vma files, and will therefore produce a very big (not really) "incremental" file. See this post for more info and an example: http://forum.proxmox.com/threads/13475-Proxmox-2-3-new-backup-methode-vma-not-rdiff-friendly
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[[Category: HOWTO]]

Latest revision as of 15:31, 13 January 2021

VMA backup format

Since the 2.3 release PVE has a new format for its very powerful vm backup feature: .vma, replacing the old one, the common .tar format. As with the old .tar, also .vma files can be compressed in .lzo or .gz format.

You can read more about Backup and Restore in http://pve.proxmox.com/wiki/Backup_and_Restore

The reasons for the switch from tar

PVE supports various storage models (some of them still in experimental flavor): lvm, sheepdog, ceph, local, nfs, iscsi, and can allow for usage of raw, qcow, vmdk, images and so on.

see, amongst the other wiki pages:

The main reason for developing a brand new format for vm backup, was to being able to use just one format, and efficiently, in particular when it comes to snapshots usage, which can also be done in a number of ways depending on the storage model, which showed drawbacks with the plain old standard .tar format, and .vma try to address and efficiently allow one single backup behavior.

There is a very detailed explanation of those reasons available here. Here is a short summary:

  • Most VM backup solutions use some kind of snapshot to get a consistent VM view at a specific point in time (eg: LVM snapshots, qcow2 snapshot, qemu livebackup), but they can involve considerable overhead, in different ways.
  • Some storage types/formats supports internal snapshots using some kind of reference counting (rados, sheepdog, dm-thin, qcow2). It would be possible to use that for backups, but for now we want to be storage-independent.
  • There is the need of a way to be more efficient, and avoid any unnecessary step, but to make that work, the backup archive need to be able to store image data 'out of order', although this will not work with traditional archive formats like tar.
  • The new method/format allows for very good performance, works on any storage type and image format, doe not need temporary storage, it is simple archive format, which is able to store sparse files efficiently.

So it's easy to understand that the aim is to get a good, simple, efficient and consistent backup behavior, more specifically suited to the vm backup, unlike the old traditional file/folder tools!

The VMA format specification

The format details can be found here.

Command line utility

~# vma
usage: vma command [command options]

vma list <filename>
vma create <filename> [-c config] <archive> pathname ...
vma extract <filename> [-v] [-r <fifo>] <targetdir>
vma verify <filename> [-v]

Things to be aware of

Please note that as the data is written in a out of order fashion, tools like rdiff will not be able to compute a delta between VMA files properly, crating a very large diff. https://forum.proxmox.com/threads/vma-archive-restore-outside-of-proxmox.14226/#post-76387

if you need to extract a VMA file outside a proxmox environment, follow these steps: see (all) this thread: https://forum.proxmox.com/threads/vma-archive-restore-outside-of-proxmox.14226/