How can I recover an ESX VMFS partition

Posted on 2010-11-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Seems something BAD happened to my ESXi 4.1 server at home. I tried to reboot the server last night and it wouldn’t boot. Seems like it had a corrupt bootloader. So I put in the ESX DVD and went for the repair option.

It told me the bootloader wasn’t working and that it would repair it and retain any VMFS partitions it found. It also told me that before any destructive action was taken it would warn me. It didn't show any such warning so I assume no destructive action was necessary or carried out.

I completed the process then before it rebooted it told me it was dropping the box into audit mode so that no new VMFS partitions would be created automatically. It also said though something about having to phone VMware support to recover any partitions manually :/ but obviously I don’t have VMware support.

When I boot the box it seems like it is a fresh install, ie, no configuration information retained. I figured that didn’t really matter as I could just set that stuff up again but I can’t see the VMFS partition.

If I go into storage the only option is for me to create a VMFS partition in what it things is over a TB of blank space, but I haven’t done this since I am hoping there may be a way to bring the other partition back somehow.

Any help or advice appreciated.

Below is the output of FDISK -LU

~ # fdisk -lu

Disk /dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3: 1500.3 GB, 1500301910016 bytes
64 heads, 32 sectors/track, 1430799 cylinders, total 2930277168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes

                                                                               Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks  Id System
/dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3p1          8192   1843199    917504    5  Extended
/dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3p4   *        32      8191      4080    4  FAT16 <32M
/dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3p5          8224    520191    255984    6  FAT16
/dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3p6        520224   1032191    255984    6  FAT16
/dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3p7       1032224   1257471    112624   fc  VMKcore
/dev/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3p8       1257504   1843199    292848    6  FAT16

Partition table entries are not in disk order
~ #

Question by:LLMorrisson
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Author Comment

ID: 34166020
Supplementary information;

/etc # ls -l /vmfs/volumes

drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root                  8 Jan  1  1970 3c3693e8-f77a642a-1910-5c6bdcb26d3a
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root                  8 Jan  1  1970 5b086a7e-a7e10513-30df-acb37f6eb186
lrwxr-xr-x    1 root     root                 35 Nov 19 10:27 Hypervisor1 -> b3fa2174-479e7b85-95c9-47258ae1fc30
lrwxr-xr-x    1 root     root                 35 Nov 19 10:27 Hypervisor2 -> 5b086a7e-a7e10513-30df-acb37f6eb186
lrwxr-xr-x    1 root     root                 35 Nov 19 10:27 Hypervisor3 -> 3c3693e8-f77a642a-1910-5c6bdcb26d3a
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root                  8 Jan  1  1970 b3fa2174-479e7b85-95c9-47258ae1fc30

/etc # more fstab

none                    /proc                   procfs    defaults        0 0
none                    /vmfs/volumes           vcfs      defaults        0 0
none                    /tmp                    visorfs   2,192,01777,tmp       0 0
/etc #

/etc # esxcfg-scsidevs -c

Device UID                                                                Device Type      Console Device                                                                                Size      Multipath PluginDisplay Name        
mpx.vmhba32:C0:T0:L0                                                      CD-ROM           /vmfs/devices/cdrom/mpx.vmhba32:C0:T0:L0                                                      0MB       NMP     Local ATAPI CD-ROM (mpx.vmhba32:C0:T0:L0)
t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3  Direct-Access    /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3  1430799MB NMP     Local ATA Disk (t10.ATA_____ST31500341AS________________________________________9VS3NSK3)

/etc #
LVL 42

Expert Comment

ID: 34170266
Can you go into the subdirectories under the volumes to see if there are virtual machines files there?
LVL 28

Accepted Solution

bgoering earned 500 total points
ID: 34172557
Take a look at Also see th knowledge base article for a step by step on how to recover a lost datastore. The steps for 4.x are towards the bottom of the article.

Good Luck
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Author Comment

ID: 34175042
Hi there,

Thanks, I did already find that article however the partition layout I can see does not match that in the article. I do not have anything listed as vmfs.

In fact, I've compared my current disk layout with another ESXi server and it appears I have two partitions missing. The vmfs one and another one (which should start at block 900).

I think I'll try the article anyway, but not before I've cloned the drive. I'll try this tonight.

Author Comment

ID: 34240888
Ok, so I went through the recovery procedue to reestablish the missing partitions. I first set up a brand new ESXi box on an identical machine to check the default partition layout and it was exactly as I expected except for the two that were missing. I recreated them following the instructions and that seemed to go fine, however ESX still cannot see the vmfs partition.

I guess I'll just accept it is lost. Fortunately there is nothing critical on that disk which can't easily be recreated.
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 34241929
Sorry to hear that didn't work. Unfortunately I don't have any other pertinent advice for this issue.

Good Luck

Author Closing Comment

ID: 34539471
Didn't exactly fix my problem, but some good info there.

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