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Any Major Reason NOT to install ESXi 4.1 on USB drive?

Posted on 2010-11-30
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Last Modified: 2013-11-11
I've done quite a bit of research and haven't been able to find a good reason NOT to install ESXi 4.1 on a usb stick.  I'm doing some consulting at a company with a Dell r710 which has a internal USB slot.  For some reason the guy that was here before decided they needed a $8000 dual quad core, 12GB ram server to share some files.  Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  The only major issue I found is that you have no redundancy. Although, USB Stick failures are fairly rare what would actually happen if it did fail?

My questions are:

1. Obviously it shouldn't affect any of the VM's data but is it as easy as just reinstalling ESXi over top of the existing or new stick, reconfigure all settings, and then reimporting all of the vm's?

2. Is there an easy way to backup the USB stick/ESXi settings on a regular basis without removing the USB stick?

Note: Guess I could just remove it monthly or quarterly and DD it or make an image of the stick.Once configured the config shouldn't really change much.  

3. Has anyone had a USB drive with ESXi on it fail and what did you do to fix it?

4. Any other input for or against installing on a USB stick is welcomed.

Thanks in advance
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Question by:bevege
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by:
Luciano Patrão earned 167 total points
ID: 34242455
Hi

Honestly I dont like to install ESX or ESXi on a USB key, But thats me :)

But yes you can do that, but of course you don't have the redundancy.

But even for physical disks, or USB keys, a VMware host can be reinstalled in 10/15m.

On USB fail, the best is just reinstall again.

That is my opinion

Jail
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Assisted Solution

by:coolsport00
coolsport00 earned 167 total points
ID: 34242560
1. It won't affect VM data because the VMFS is on different storage (it should be)
2. You can't (now) b/u ESXi (or ESX...vSphere version) without having Ent Plus licensing. The install is in the form of a VMDK file now (instead of a few config type files), and the only way to b/u ESX is via host profiles. ESXi can be backed up via Cmd Line (vCLI - see: http://www.vmware.com/pdf/vsphere4/r41/vsp4_41_vcli_inst_script.pdf, pg. 28)
3. No; but really...the only way to 'fix' it is have a 2nd USB stick configured and ready to go
4. You will hear pros/cons on this...but I have yet to hear anything bad about USB, except of course what you already noted...lack of redundancy

Regards,
~coolsport00
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Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 166 total points
ID: 34242717
I've had two server installs fail with ESXi 4.1, but simple to fix, restore the dd/win image and restore the configuration which you can backup using vcli and job done.

The servers only actually failed on redraft, so were in maintenance mode and all other vas were on other servers. all the installs we've done in last 12 months have been on USB certified hp flash drives and ad cards for hp servers

Quick to deploy for clients
Standard config

One caveat VMware Tools tends to be slow and temporally suspend the guest os. so we use vmware tools on an iso mount or nfs/cifs share instead

we do USB/sd cards all the time
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Author Comment

by:bevege
ID: 34243211
First of all thank you all for you expert advise, I absolutely love this site. Worth every penny.  

I've used ESXi 3.5 quite a bit and 4.1 not as much.  I haven't done a lot of the command line stuff besides some of the networking tools.  It's next on my list of things to learn so thank you for the information.  I also didn't think about just having a spare usb key around just in case, they are cheap so it makes perfect sense.  Does anyone know if Dell has certified usb keys like the HP ones that hanccocka referenced?

Thanks again.  Splitting points!
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Author Closing Comment

by:bevege
ID: 34243222
Great advice!
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