ThriveTP
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Windows 2008 R2 NFS Datastore keeps vanishing

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Got a new vSphere 6 Essentials installed. I have an NFS share published on a Windows Server 2008 R2 box.  I can add the NFS share to the esxi host using the vSphere client (not using vSphere server at this time).  When I try to browse it the nfs datastore, no files appear. All I see is the top level folder structure, nothing within each folder--files or directories.

If I do a refresh, the datastore vanishes. Restarting the host does not make it reappear. If I try to add the share again, I get the message the one of that name already exists (which makes sense since I never removed the datastore). If I change the windows share name, i can mount once more, but after a refresh it goes away again.

Any help appreciated.

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jhboricua
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I know this is not what you want to hear but my own experience with a NFS datastore hosted on a windows server is that it simply doesn't work. You will have myriads of issues and timeouts due to the way Windows operates. And I tried both 2008R2 and 2012R2 a few years later after that. Researched every blog post of 'successful' implementations only to find out the bloggers never bothered to run it through its paces. One of them actually acknowledged he simply undid it after simply setting it up for his blog purpose. None actually tried to do any real workload on them from my experience.

I was able to make the host see the datastore, mount it and even run ONE VM on it. But as soon as I tried to do anything that stressed it, such as a storage vmotion or a regular vmotion, the thing would time out and the operation would fail. Every.... single.... time. It would be far easier and reliable to spin up a FreeNAS or Linux server to host the NFS share. Believe me, doing it on Windows is not worth the headache.

-Jose

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vfk
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Have you tried connecting to the esxi host directly and see if you have the same issues when connected directly to the host.  It could be your vcenter inventory service is misbehaving, try restarting the inventory service, if you are still having issues try Resetting the VMware vCenter Server 5.x Inventory Service database (2042200) | VMware KB

--- If you found this or any other answer helpful, please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. vfk Systems Manager / Technical Architect VCP5-DCV, VCAP5-DCA, vExpert, ITILv3, CCNA, MCP
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ThriveTP
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Hey vfk-

I've yet to setup vcenter server. All the initial setup and configuration has been done via the vsphere client.

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vfk
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You will need to investigate this throught the vmkernel logs, Troubleshooting connectivity issues to an NFS datastore on ESX and ESXi hosts (1003967) | VMware KB

--- If you found this or any other answer helpful, please consider the use of the Helpful or Correct buttons to award points. vfk Systems Manager / Technical Architect VCP5-DCV, VCAP5-DCA, vExpert, ITILv3, CCNA, MCP
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ThriveTP
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I've worked my way through most of the steps listed in the link, which shows connectivity is not an issue.  I'm waiting for a reboot to enable the unix tools for the Identity Manager role.

In the meantime, I've posted an excerpt of the vmkernal.log, which shows the successful mount of the NFS share, but then reference to bad CDB, no FS driver claimed device, and No filesystem on device.

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jhboricua
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Enthusiast

I know this is not what you want to hear but my own experience with a NFS datastore hosted on a windows server is that it simply doesn't work. You will have myriads of issues and timeouts due to the way Windows operates. And I tried both 2008R2 and 2012R2 a few years later after that. Researched every blog post of 'successful' implementations only to find out the bloggers never bothered to run it through its paces. One of them actually acknowledged he simply undid it after simply setting it up for his blog purpose. None actually tried to do any real workload on them from my experience.

I was able to make the host see the datastore, mount it and even run ONE VM on it. But as soon as I tried to do anything that stressed it, such as a storage vmotion or a regular vmotion, the thing would time out and the operation would fail. Every.... single.... time. It would be far easier and reliable to spin up a FreeNAS or Linux server to host the NFS share. Believe me, doing it on Windows is not worth the headache.

-Jose

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ThriveTP
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@jose-  Yeah, I definitely don't want to hear that.  🙂

Really, the only need for mapping a datastore to the windows box is to be able to move some vms onto the host, and to make ISOs available. Can't spin up another server at this site at the moment, so linux or freenas is out.  If I can't make this work...

I've never tried to mount a usb drive as a datastore on esxi. It would require a site visit, which is fine. Would that be an option?

EDIT: Or...how about setting up iSCSI storage windows for the host?

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jhboricua
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Enthusiast

iSCSI would work just fine. I had no issues using the same 2012 R2 server as an iSCSI target for ESXi hosts.

Out of curiosity, what NFS version and transport do you have selected for NFS on your 2008 R2 server? It's under the 'Server settings' tab of 'Server for NFS' properties.

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ThriveTP
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Contributor

default was nfs version 3, so i left it there.

Another odd bit of behavior on the esxi host, is enabling NSF in the host firewall. I'd check the box leave, come back, see it was still checked. Fiddle with trying to get the datastore to show up, then go back to the firewall and find NFS was no longer checked. Not sure what that is all about, but I think I read somewhere that it will automagially open the correct port when needed. I just don't understand why it keeps unchecking itself. Not sure if that hasn't anything to do with anything. Just curious.

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jhboricua
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Enthusiast

Make sure your transport is set to TCP only, not TCP & UDP.

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ThriveTP
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Well this has been a learning experience. Tried the iSCSI option, but it seems that when trying to mount LUN iSCSI target, ESXi wants to take it over and put it's own file system on it. which makes sense, and is fine, except that it negates my use case. Other than NFS (and that's not working from Windows), I can't find a way connect ESXi with Windows Server so I can copy files from Windows Server to the ESXi host. Perhaps if Windows could access the iSCSI target VMFS formatted VHD so I could copy the files I need to it, but from what I find, options are dubious at best. Looks like I'm going to have to try USB transfer (sucks for 400GB of data) unless anyone has another suggestion (not including standing up a reliable NFS source), either to fix NFS on Windows, or another connection option from Windows.

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ThriveTP
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Contributor

Well, giving up. Was hoping to have a persistent NFS mount so I would not have to manually upload files to the host. Plus, I was so focused on solving this, I completely forgot I could actually upload directly to the host's datastore from the server via the vsphere client. Thanks to all for the replies, thoughts and advice. Marking this complete.

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