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how do I recover a deleted flat.vmdk file from ESX Virtual machine that runs exhange?

I accidently deleted a flat.vmdk file from the datat storage.  now it will not launch my exchange server.  is there a way to recover that or rebuilt that file?  how important is that file?  I am using Virtual infrastructural client to access my machine.  

i have attached a view of my storage files, and notice a flat.vmdk file is missing.  please help.
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Lifestream
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Lifestream
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4 Solutions
 
LifestreamAuthor Commented:
here is a screenshot of my current data folder
Fullscreen-capture-12262009-2141.bmp
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Paul SolovyovskyCommented:
this may help.

http://www.itexperience.net/2008/03/03/howto-recreate-vmdk-files/

from the link below here's a description

http://communities.vmware.com/thread/82810

vmdk files – These are the disk files that are created for each virtual hard drive in your VM. There are 3 different types of files that use the vmdk extension, they are:

o *–flat.vmdk file - This is the actual raw disk file that is created for each virtual hard drive. Almost all of a .vmdk file's content is the virtual machine's data, with a small portion allotted to virtual machine overhead. This file will be roughly the same size as your virtual hard drive.

o *.vmdk file – This isn't the file containing the raw data anymore. Instead it is the disk descriptor file which describes the size and geometry of the virtual disk file. This file is in text format and contains the name of the –flat.vmdk file for which it is associated with and also the hard drive adapter type, drive sectors, heads and cylinders, etc. One of these files will exist for each virtual hard drive that is assigned to your virtual machine. You can tell which –flat.vmdk file it is associated with by opening the file and looking at the Extent Description field.

o *–delta.vmdk file - This is the differential file created when you take a snapshot of a VM (also known as REDO log). When you snapshot a VM it stops writing to the base vmdk and starts writing changes to the snapshot delta file. The snapshot delta will initially be small and then start growing as changes are made to the base vmdk file, The delta file is a bitmap of the changes to the base vmdk thus is can never grow larger than the base vmdk. A delta file will be created for each snapshot that you create for a VM. These files are automatically deleted when the snapshot is deleted or reverted in snapshot manager.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
I am using VMware Vitural Infrastrature to acces my machine.  it will not allow me to browse the files.  is there any other way to access this machine.  RDP doesn't connect, putty is too complicated.


This is the error message i got when i tried to turn on my LS-EX1 virtual server:
Message from vmmed.lifestream.com: VMware ESX Server cannot find the virtual disk "LS_EX1.vmdk". Please verify the path is valid and try again. Cannot open the disk '/vmfs/volumes/46fcf4c4-a2621470-f189-001b78bd5ae4/LS_EX1/LS_EX1-000001.vmdk' or one of the snapshot disks it depends on. Reason: The system cannot find the file specified.
 8:22 AM 12/26/09  root
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ollfriedCommented:
You deleted the actual disk file. There is no normal way to get it back, best will be restoring the VM from backup.
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Paul SolovyovskyCommented:
Try using Veeam FastSCP to access the file system but seems like you were also using snapshots.  If you don't see the vmdk files you may be out of luck and need to restore from backup
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ollfriedCommented:
SCP will not show more files than the datastore browser does. The flat-file is gone, and thats really, really bad.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
this server was running our exchange mail server, is it possible to make a new VM machine to host exchange?  what is lost in that file?  it was only 16mb?  is the Exchange Server gone?  
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Paul SolovyovskyCommented:
the .vmdk file is metadata.  If you lost your -flat.vmdk you lost your raw data.  Because you have used snapshots you made the situration even more difficult.  I don't see the flat.vmdk nor the .vmdk file.  All I see is differential snapshot files which are no good without the base

At this point I would restore from backup
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ollfriedCommented:
The vmdk-file is there, 'only' the flat-file is missig.
As stated several times: You lost your data. The flat-file is the file, where your data is (or was) stored.

You might look at the vmdk-file an post the content, the logfiles would help, too. There must be a reason, why the file is gone.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
Thanks paulsolov,

it looks like I will need to bring in help; as you can see i really do not know what i am doing....

Could you tell me how much work wil it required restore from backup.  I need to get an idea how much time i will need to work with an IT specialist.

Our server performs a complete server backup (using backup exec) but i don't know to what extents.
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ollfriedCommented:
In that case it's quite easy: Create a new VM, install Windows and Exchange, Restore Data. Time for that varies from 1 hour to one day, depending on what's in your backup and so on.
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Paul SolovyovskyCommented:
If you're using Backup Exec you will need to install the OS on  a new VM, if you are using vCeneter and have a template it will assist in recovery time.

What version of Backup Exec are you running?  Make sure you have a good backup from the night before, perhaps we can assist further.

While you're doing this start installing the OS on the server and join back to the domain with the original name.  Install the backup exec agent and we'll go from there.

You may want to close this question and open one up in the backup exec zone, you'll get more responces on this if you run into the we hours.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
it looks like I have a nice backup from the night before.  
our backup is done by Symantec Backup 11d rev 7170.

i will open a new case under backup exec zone.  

its goin to be a long weekend.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
trying to create a new VM can i use a different name and change it back when i am done configuring it?  it wont allow me to use the old name.
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Paul SolovyovskyCommented:
It should allow you to add it under the same name unless it was also a domain controller.  Was it a member server or DC?

In the future you may want to look at VMware Centric backups so that you backup the whole VM. A good option since you already have Backup exec is to use the AVVI agent but you will need to upgrade to Backup Exec 12.5
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benhansonCommented:
The exchange config will require that the name be the same.  If the old server is offline, I would reuse the old name as the restore is more likely to go smoothly.  Keep the server off the network until the restore is complete.  If the restore includes system state(registry, sam db, etc) then once all the files are back in place along with registry entries, you should be able to bring the server back on the network and try to get Exchange up and running.
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ollfriedCommented:
I think you mean the name of the VM, right? That name can be changed later on, but it should not, because it might cause confusion. However, the VMs nane is completely independant of the windows guest running in it.
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benhansonCommented:
Ollfried is correct, if you were talking about the VM name(not the windows computer name), then it doesn't really matter.  It's just a label.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
So are we sure that the flat.vmdk file is history.  I just wanted to make sure if there is a way to recover that file using some special program or service.  The reason i ask this is because i am about to install windows server 2003 and it is asking me to format the 100 GB i have allotcated for this server.   If i go ahead to format then the flat file will be definately gone!!

thanks for all the response guys.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
when the flat was deleted yesterday, it off loaded about 120 GB of memory.
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ollfriedCommented:
The new virtual disk has nothing to do with the old one. If you had no backup I would have recommended using some kind of data recovery, but with a good backup in hand there is ne real reason for that.
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LifestreamAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the help.

So, after a couple of days of down time, the server is back and running.  We didn't have a good backup set but with the backup available we were able to restore most settings and mailboxes with the help of Symantec Backup Exec support.

Learned not to mess around with VMware (no undo button and not very friendly).  

our step of recovery included:

1. Stop backup job.
2.  Deleted Old VM EX1 server
3.  Created New VM EX2 server.
4. rebuilt server;  loaded win server2003, loaded exchange, loaded recovery, setup OWA w/ SSL.

as a precaution, .pst backup was created from each client machine, in case we do not have good mailbox backup or if new server deletes old mailboxes from each workstation.  but in the end, outlook and exchange connected succesfully like nothing happened.  thanks.
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Paul SolovyovskyCommented:
You should look into vmware centric backups, the restore would have taken you an hour or two max.  Another option is Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery, it will image the server and you can then restore to physical or virtual hardware.  To restore to vmware you can use VMware vConverter and it's simple to do.

For the whole environment take a look at the SYmantec Backup Exec AVVI agent but it's expensive, $2500 per ESX host. If you have many VMs it's worth it otherwise you can go with Veeam or Vizioncore prodcuts.
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ollfriedCommented:
And - most important - don't delete any files you don't know...
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