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VMWare ESXi Datastore lost on cloning.

Posted on 2011-09-18
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I recently purchased a new server with a raid controller, I purchased this as my previous server literally died.  The previous server had a single 3.5" SATA drive.  The new server takes four 2.5" SAS drives (RAID based).  I installed my 3.5" drive with the previous ESXi installation into a desktop computer, and used Ghost4Linux to copy the contents to the RAID array (via a USB drive).

Now when I start the new server ESXi boots, and all seems to be running correctly, but the existing data store, with my VMs is not visible.  I also receive a message that I must create at least one datastore.

Can anyone tell me how to recover the existing datastore with all my VMs?  I presume  that as the ESXi boots OK, then the cloning of the original disk must have been successful.
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Question by:townsma
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Expert Comment

by:roylong
ID: 36555996
How did you install the original ESXi?  This version is non-configurable so I presume you had the data stores on another partition or disk... ...you only talk about a single 3.5" disk so I am presuming that you partitioned this and put your data stores and ESXi on this?

If the above is correct, then the most likely thing is that you only transferred the ESXi partition - does that sounds likely?  How were you managing the previous ESXi installation (I.e. what method did you use to configure the system when you first set it up?)
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Expert Comment

by:duffme
ID: 36555999
Did Ghost4Linux  image the the VMFS filesystem?  I wouldn't think it would recognize it.  Perhaps you can add the 3.5" drive to the new server as a slave, read the VMFS with ESXi and then migrate the virtual hard disks to a new datastore elsewhere.
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LVL 124
ID: 36556085
Personally I would connect this SATA hard disk with your VMFS partition to any Windows PC.

then use the Open Source VMFS Driver to READ the Contents of the disk, and transfer to ESXi, using Veeam FastSCP or Datastore browser.

http://code.google.com/p/vmfs/
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Author Comment

by:townsma
ID: 36556209
@Roylong, the basic ESXi installation puts the datastore in a different partition automatically. They are linux partitions.  But the Ghost software I used cloned all partitions.  So I know for sure the required partitions are on the disk somewhere.

@Duffme, The Ghost4Linux clones the entire disk, including all partitions. So again, I know the data is one the drive somewhere. With regards to adding the 3.5" to the server, there are no free suitable SATA ports, or power connectors for connecting this drive.

@hanccoka, this was my fall back plan, but as there is almost 1Tb of data, even with FastSCP, that would take a long time, hence keeping that as a backup plan.

To all above thanks for your suggestions.  I am 100% positive the data is on the new disk, I just need to find it to use it.  I will keep looking for possible reasons why it is not visible.

Thanks  
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LVL 124
ID: 36556259
Check that the cloned disk has a VMFS partition on it, with fdisk at the console prompt on ESXi.

I would not trust a clone, and either connect the original disk to the new server, or another PC, and transfer the data.
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Expert Comment

by:duffme
ID: 36556295
I think what hanccocka and I are supposing that the imaging might have only cloned recognized partitions or copied them as some unknown type.  
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townsma earned 0 total points
ID: 36556311
Thanks everyone for the advice given. As I suspected the data was all there.  The only issue was actually because the new server / disk controller could not read the partition. I simply need to "resignature" the partition, and all my VM files are now visible, and the VMs running.

The only outstanding issue is the new disk is twice the size of the old disk, but is currently only using 50% of the space.  Type to add a new extent or increase the size of the existing extent does not seem to work at the moment. But I believe this is a case of growing the partition size, then I will be able to grow the extent as required.

Again, thanks every one for the advice given thus far.
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LVL 124
ID: 36556328
Does your installation of "old" ESXi also occupy the the disk as well as the VMFS datastore, or does the disk just contain the VMFS datastore as one partition?

e.g. are there any other partitions on this disk?
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Author Comment

by:townsma
ID: 36556332
One the old server the ESXi and VMFS we both on a single SATA disk. On the new server they are both on the same logical drive which is actually a RAID5 array.
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LVL 124
ID: 36556338
So this old disk has an ESXi installation and VMFS?

If so, it's the 4 Primary Partition limit, that is causing the Increase VMFS issue.

You would need to ensure the VMFS occupies the entire disk, with no other partitions.
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Author Comment

by:townsma
ID: 36575613
I agree it is the 4 primary partition limit preventing me adding an new partition, but that should not have prevented me from extending an existing partition.

I have solved this problem by adding an additional drive to the new server, moving all the VMs to the temp drive.  Then I reinstalled ESXi on the RAID array, using the entire VDisk. I then copied all the VMs back again.

I noticed there were a number of posts on the net about increasing the size of partitions of ESXi disks.  This seems to be a known issue, with many fixes when using ESXi 4, but none explaining how to fix it with ESXi 5.

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Author Closing Comment

by:townsma
ID: 36597783
I have selected this as the answer, as none of the other suggestions actually fixed my problem.
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