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USB External HD directly connected to a VM?

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Last Modified: 2013-01-02
Is it possible to directly attach a USB external hard drive to a virtual machine? (As opposed to  making it a datastore and putting a .vmdk on it)?

We have a Windows Server 2008 physical box. We do regular backups to an external hard drive using the built-in Windows Server Backup feature.

I want to do a test restore of one of these backups to a VM, just to see if it works. What good is a backup if you never test it?

The problem is I don't have any idea how to connect the USB backup disk to the VM so it can recognize it and restore from it.

I'm using VMWare ESXi 5.1 free edition and vSphere. I'm open to using a different free hypervisor (Xen, Hyper-V, Virtualbox etc.) if necessary.
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