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VMware file server - best way to handle lots of data

We are building a new VMware (vShere / ESX 4 cluster) Windows Server 2008 file server that will be sharing many TB of data located on a NAS via NFS.

What’s the best way to mount and share that data via the VM? It just seems odd to create one or more multi TB disks for the VM out on the NAS. I could see issues if I need to deal with that data in an emergency and need to get to data quickly or move things around.

Would it make more sense to do something like access the files on the NAS via DFS from the VM or something like that and just leave the files as files on the NAS box? Would that create a performance or other headaches?

So what is the best way to deal with lots of data from a VM via NFS?

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Why not make one of the Virtual Machine a file share server or DFS so the files will be on NAS and other VMs and users can access it via simple files share principal.
I would create the 2TB LUNs and present them to the ESX(i) Cluster. Create 2TB-512k vmdk disk files for your VM. That will keep everything within the limits for VMware. Don't forget to format the datastores with 8MB block size to allow the largest possible vmdk files.

If you need larger virtual disks in your 2008 server use the Windows facilities to create larger volumes out of multiple LUNs.

This solution will give you full support for VMware HA, DRS, and vmotion.

Good Luck
Avatar of willp2


Now if I was using DFS via the VM, wouldn't HA and vmotion still work as the VM is pointing to the data on the NAS directly?
I would suggest to go with what bgoering said.

However NFS are not limited like vmfs to 2TB-512B. So you can create much higher disk.
But think as best practice if you want to move those vmdk to another storage.

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I guess my main issue for looking at keeping data out of the vmdk was just if I needed to get at the data quickly in case of a big problem. In the past when we had some hardware issues we needed to home around hundreds of gigs of data before we could do anything with it. I'm just not crazy about having many TB of data more or less locked up like that.

Simonseztech, what do you mean by "But think as best practice if you want to move those vmdk to another storage."

Are you suggesting that the vmdk's shouldn't be out on NFS or what exactly?


You should present your NFS to your vSphere server then create virtual disk on the NFS datastore.

Even if VMware on NFS doesn't limit you to 2TB-512B, you should keep in mind that if someday you have
to move the file (update, disaster recovery etc...) it's much better to limit yourself to the 2TB-512B and
let windows 2008 join multiple disk.( I speek from experience )
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