How to Backup an ESXi installation on an USB Flash Drive or SD card, for security or redundancy.

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)
MVE^2, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2018-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert 2019-2011 30 years of experience.
How to Backup ESXi installation on a USB flash drive or SD card.


1. A valid ESXi installation on a USB flash drive or SD card.
2. A copy of Winimage for Windows.
3. A Windows computer.
4. Optional Blank DVD for making backup.
5. Optional USB flash drive or SD card for flash backup.

1. Download Winimage from the Internet

Using your internet browser, Internet Explorer or Mozilla, download a copy of Winimage from http://www.winimage.com/download.htm.

WinImage is a shareware product. You may copy, distribute, and try it for free, but if you use for longer than the evaluation period, you must register. You will receive a valid license, a registration code and the latest release.

2. Install Winimage

Install Winimage as per the vendors instructions on your Windows computer you need to backup the USB flash drive or SD card.

3. Insert the ESXi USB flash drive or in USB port on computer

Insert the ESXi USB flash drive or SD card inserted in a card reader into the computer you have installed Winimage on.

4. Start Winimage

 Winimage Startup
Start Winimage from the Start Menu on your Windows computer.

5. From the disk menu

 Create Virtual Hard Disk
From the disk menu, in Winimage, select Creating Virtual Hard Disk Image from Physical Drive.

6. Select the USB flash drive or SD card

See picture below

Select a physical drive in the list
Select the USB flash drive or SD card, from the list, in this example, I'm using a Flash LUXIO USB flash drive.

7. Select Create Fixed Size Virtual Hard Disk

 Select usb flash drive
Select the Fixed Size Virtual Hard Disk, ensure there is a dot in this selection. This ensures that the saved backup image is exactly the same size as the flash drive, you are copying example 2GB for a 2GB USB flash drive, 4GB fort a 4GB flash drive.

8. Click OK

Click OK

9. Specify a disk location and select Save

 Select save location
Once you have specified a location, a progress bar will continue on screen showing the progress of the copy.

 Progress Bar

10. Partiton to connect to

When prompted to connect to partition, click okay and Exit Winimage

11. The USB flash drive or SD contents will be saved as a complete image.

The contents will be saved to disk.

12. Complete.

The operation is complete and you can exist Winimage, and Safely remove your USB flash drives or SD cards, from the computer, by selecting the Safely remove hardware icon, in the system Smart tray.

13. Backup to DVD

If you image size is less than the size of a DVD (4.5GB), I also backup the USB/SD card installation image to a DVD, and if you have a spare USB flash drive, it doesn't hurt writing the contens to another USB flash drive or SD card. (and make sure you label with date, time, and version and build of ESX, and what server it is for!)

Thank you for reading my article, please leave valuable feedback.
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