Backup VirtualBox machines with Windows PowerShell

Normally I would suggest people to start running a virtual machine that needs backing up on something else other than VirtualBox however because of my recent migration from VMWare to VirtualBox this question arose. I am a Windows Insider and I use a VM to test the image and new features. During this process I most of the time break something and need to get back to where I started before. Nothing a simple snapshot doesn’t fix but actually making automated backups are a different story.

So I decided to write something that could do that. I should stop the VM and wait for it to be shutdown, Export the appliance to a location and if I want compress the thing down if possible. After the export it starts the VM back up. This way I can have a neatly packed organized backup structure of my VM that I Import at any time and will.

For the compression part it requires that you have 7-Zip installed. I used 7-Zip instead of the Compress-Archive command because of a file limiting bug with the command as of writing this.

Don’t get me wrong this is not an optimal way of doing things probably but for my use case it works great. If I update the script at any point I will write back here.

UPDATE 2019-07-30: Added a check if the destination folder exists and if not create it. Also changed up a Write-Verbose typo.

UPDATE 2019-12-23: Created a GitHub repo to manage script code and additions.

This is a simple Powershell script to allow you to create backups of VirtualBox VM's using the 'Export to Appliance' command. 

The script is using the command line interface of VirtualBox named VBoxManage to do the starting and stopping of the VM's and the creation of the exported OVA files. 
It is as well required to have 7-Zip installed on the computer. It uses 7-Zip to compress the backupped directory. The command line argument Compress-Archive is not 
supported as the output files are most likely larger than 2GB. Because of a .NET limitation zip archives larger then 2GB are not supported yet because of Zip64 not being 
implemented in .NET yet. 

.\Backup-VirtualBox.ps1 -VM 'TESTVM' -Destination D:\Test\TESTVM -Verbose

.\Backup-VirtualBox.ps1 -VM 'TESTVM' -Destination D:\Test\TESTVM -Compress -Verbose


    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true)][String]$VM = "",
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true)][String]$Destination = "C:\Users\" + $env:UserName + "\Documents\",

function Create-7Zip([String] $aDirectory, [String] $aZipfile){
    [string]$pathToZipExe = "$($Env:ProgramFiles)\7-Zip\7z.exe";
    [Array]$arguments = "a", "-tzip", "$aZipfile", "$aDirectory", "-r";
    & $pathToZipExe $arguments;

function Get-RunningVirtualBox($VM)
    $VBoxManage = 'C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe'

    $pinfo = New-Object System.Diagnostics.ProcessStartInfo
    $pinfo.FileName = $VBoxManage
    $pinfo.RedirectStandardError = $true
    $pinfo.RedirectStandardOutput = $true
    $pinfo.UseShellExecute = $false
    $pinfo.Arguments = "list runningvms"
    $p = New-Object System.Diagnostics.Process
    $p.StartInfo = $pinfo
    $p.Start() | Out-Null
    $stdout = $p.StandardOutput.ReadToEnd()
    $stderr = $p.StandardError.ReadToEnd()

    if ($stdout.Contains($VM))
        return $stdout

$Date = Get-Date -format "yyyyMMdd"
$VBoxManage = 'C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\VBoxManage.exe'
$OVA = "$VM-$Date.ova"

Write-Verbose "Stopping $VM"
Start-Process $VBoxManage -ArgumentList "controlvm $VM acpipowerbutton" -Wait -WindowStyle Hidden

Write-Verbose "Testing if $Destination exists, if not then create it"
if (-Not(Test-Path $Destination))
    New-Item -Path $Destination -ItemType Directory

Write-Verbose "Checking if $OVA already exists and removing it before beginning"
if (Test-Path $OVA)
    Remove-Item $OVA -Force -Verbose:($PSCmdlet.MyInvocation.BoundParameters["Verbose"].IsPresent)

Write-Verbose "Waiting for $VM to have stopped"
    Start-Sleep -Seconds 1

Write-Verbose "Exporting the VM appliance of $VM as $OVA"
Start-Process $VBoxManage -ArgumentList "export $VM -o $OVA" -Wait -WindowStyle Hidden

Write-Verbose "Starting $VM"
Start-Process $VBoxManage -ArgumentList "startvm $VM" -Wait -WindowStyle Hidden

if ($Compress)
    $DestinationCompress = $Destination + "\" + $OVA.Split('.')[0] + ".zip"
    Write-Verbose "Checking if $DestinationCompress already exists and removing it before beginning"
    if (Test-Path $DestinationCompress)
        Remove-Item $DestinationCompress -Force -Verbose:($PSCmdlet.MyInvocation.BoundParameters["Verbose"].IsPresent)

    Write-Verbose "Starting the compression of $OVA to $DestinationCompress"
    Create-7Zip ($PSScriptRoot + "\" + $OVA) $DestinationCompress

    Write-Verbose "Removing ($PSScriptRoot + "\" + $OVA) because of completed compression"
    Remove-Item ($PSScriptRoot + "\" + $OVA) -Verbose:($PSCmdlet.MyInvocation.BoundParameters["Verbose"].IsPresent)
    Write-Verbose "Copying the exported $OVA to $Destination"
    Copy-Item ($PSScriptRoot + "\" + $OVA) -Destination ($Destination + "\" + $OVA) -Verbose:($PSCmdlet.MyInvocation.BoundParameters["Verbose"].IsPresent)

Write-Verbose "Completed the Backup"

2 thoughts on “Backup VirtualBox machines with Windows PowerShell”

  1. Good day!
    Do you have plans to have any kind of shared repo on github/gitlab? I.e. i wanna extend it to upload backup results to s3 with limit on doing it via metered connection. Also, some params are hardcoded – i.e. archive type, while someone may want to use 7zip format instead of zip and so on

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