I have been carrying out a SBS migration and went to mount a USB device to the VM we had created. In the process of doing this, I managed to mount the USB stick which had the ESXi OS installed on it. Since this has happened I haven't been able to boot the VM and if it manages to get to the log in screen it will then crash on me. I have then tried un-mounting all USB's connected to the VM but now the issue is consistent no matter what I carrying out on it.
To see if I could still load the VM I have created a second VM to point at it's VMDK file. However doing this and booting from the VMDK it then doesn't show anything which I had installed but shows the server roles set up on the VM prior to the issue. I then looked to see if the VMDK file was correct and as I found there were two different VMDK files within the VM (I never made a partition on the VM). After finding this out I checked the settings to see which VMDK file the hard drive was looking at on the original VM and found it was pointing to a VMDK file ending in xxxx00000001.VMDK. When trying to point the new VM to this I got the following error message "A general system error occurred: Unrecognised handle property identifier".
My question is has anyone come across this before when using a different VM's VMDK file? Or is there a way to restore the old VM so that we can log into it again?
The ...-000001.vmdk file is a snapshot file, i.e. your VM has an active snapshot. Since snapshots are used like chains (i.e. each .vmdk file in the chain is in use), you actually broke the snapshot chain by powering on a VM with the base virtual disk. What's required now is to fix the snapshot chain, and - regarding you initial issue - to check whether the problematic configuration issues with the USB connection can be removed from the VM's configuration (.vmx) file.
Please provide a screenshot of the Datsastore Browser window which shows all the VM's files with their sizes and time stamps. In addition to the screenshot, download the .vmx, .vmsd as well as all the .vmdk header files from the VM's folder on the datasatore, compress/zip them and attach them to a reply post. Remember that each virtual disk (base and snapshots) actually consist of two files, the .vmdk header file and a .vmdk data file (...-flat.vmdk or ...-delta.vmdk), although the Datsatore Browser will show only one of these files for each virtual disk. In order to see the different files, enable SSH in the ESXi host's security settings and use e.g. WinSCP to download the files I asked for from the VM's folder (/vmfs/volumes/<datastore-name>/<VM-name>).