VMWare 5 - Can you mount Windows Shares from the VMWare command line?

Posted on 2013-06-13
Last Modified: 2013-06-13
I have a VMWare exported image on an external USB Hard Drive, and I wanted to know the best way to get the image onto the VMWare server's data store.

- Can I mount the USB drive directly on the host and access the file via the datastore browser?  The partition is NTFS.
- Can I connect directly to a Windows SMB share from the VMWare command line?  
- I was going to copy the image directly to the VMWare server using the Datastore browser, but this was taking SO LONG...there has to be a better way?

What is the method that other people use to export VMWare images (templates, for example) to other servers?
Question by:jkeegan123
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LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 39246029
Connect to the ESXi server using the VI client, right-click on the datastore, select Browse Datastore, click the "upload files to this datastore" button.

Whoops!  I missed that you'd already tried that....

Are you going over a WAN or other link with latency?  That will slow the copy significantly.
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 39246039
You can mount Windows CIFS shares the same way you mount NFS shares.  (Everything is case-sensitive, and you have to give "everyone" permission to see the share and files.)

I'm not sure if that will speed the copy, though, since CIFS is latency bound.
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 39246049
I suggest you read this article:

Copying virtual disk files using a web browser for ESX and ESXi
ESX and ESXi servers have a built-in web service which allows you to access files via a web browser. Although this method of copying files is only one-way and does not allow you to upload files, it may be a good alternative in certain situations. To access these files:

    Open a web browser.
    Access this URL:


    Where host_IP_address is the IP or DNS name of the ESX host.

    Enter the appropriate credentials when prompted.
    Click the ha-datacenter link.
    Browse to and download the desired virtual disk file.

    Note: When using the browser to move and copy virtual disk files in ESX, you must copy both the flat file and the descriptor file. For example, if a virtual machine disk is named disk.vmdk, it would have a corresponding disk-flat.vmdk file which must be copied or moved as well.


Copying virtual disk files across the network to and from different platforms
Moving virtual disk files across a network can be accomplished in many ways and on many platforms. These options exist to transport files to different platforms:

    FTP file transfer
    SCP file transfer
    NFS shares
    Windows File Sharing (CIFS shares)

Steps on how to enable, configure, and transfer files using these specific methods are outside of the scope of this article. When transferring virtual disk files across the network, VMware recommends validating the information before and after the file transfer. This can be done by using MD5 checksums. For more information on the use of MD5 checksums, see Using MD5 Checksums.

Instructions for SCP:
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LVL 119
ID: 39246063
You cannot mount a USB drive on the host, which has NTFS, or use a Windows Share. Windows Shares have not been supported since ESX 2.5.

The fastest transfer is via NFS and enable Jumbo Frames.. But it does depends on

1. how fast your network is, 100, 1GBe, 10GBe
2. data transfer from host storage (read speed)
3.  data transfer write speed of destination(write speed).

See my Videos for Details:-

Video Tutorial - Creating an NFS Datastore using Windows 2008 R2 for VMware vSphere ESX/ESX 4.x

Video Tutorial - Adding an NFS Datastore to a VMware vSphere ESX/ESXi 4.x host server

Data transfer moves takes time.....

You could

1. Export to OVF/Import from OVF

2. Use VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.1

See my EE Articles

HOW TO:  Synchronize changes when completing a P2V or V2V with VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.1

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE - VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.1

3. Use a Backup Product, which can transfer to a CIFS share

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide


HOW TO: Clone or Copy a virtual machine in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESX/ESXi 4.x or ESXi 5.0

HOW TO: Upload an ISO CD-ROM/DVD-ROM image to a VMware datastore for use with VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.1 (ESXi 5.1) using the vSphere Client, and checking its MD5 checksum signature is correct.
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 39246089
Actually, I think SCP is probably his best route.
LVL 119
ID: 39246104
SCP is slow!

no faster than using Veeam FastSCP when it existed!

What size of virtual machines are you wanting to transfer?

do you have vCenter Server?

HOW TO: "Live Migrate" VMware Virtual Machines between ESX/ESXi hosts and/or datastores for FREE without licenses for vMotion or Storage vMotion

Author Comment

ID: 39246187
There is NO VCENTER in this deployment...arrrrgh.....and SCP IS VERY SLOW!  I read other articles that referenced using MOUNT to mount an SMB share, but the MOUNT command is not in my available command line options.

I think FTP is a great option, but FTP also is not an available command on my VMWare 5 host.  Can I add MOUNT or FTP to my available command line utilities?
LVL 119

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 500 total points
ID: 39246227
You are reading old articles, ESXi is not compatible with CIFs (Windows Shares).

ESX could be "modified" to work with Windows Shares. It was removed long ago. This is not ESX, which has been discontinued.

FTP is also not supported, or available.


The options are listed above in my post.

USB external disks are also not the best to use, because USB is slow.

Attach USB disk to Windows 2008 R2 Server, Create NFS Shares, attach to ESXi as a datastore, and copy the files, walk away, and get a coffee or two, come back in the morning.

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