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Need To Make a Full Copy of VM to USB Attached External Hard Drive

I remember this being a huge pain in the butt before. In ESXi 5.1 I need clone multiple VM's and then copy them to a USB attached external hard drive. I do remember this being possible, but I don't remember how to do it.

First thing is getting the VM Host to recognize that the external hard drive is actually there. I have a VM guest on that server with a USB Controller added, but no luck getting the host or the guest seeing it.

2 Replies

Hi KevinSampson​,

I'm not quite sure what the issue maight be, but please let me know following:

I guess you attached the USB Attached External HardDrive to the ESXi Host?

If so, you will have to configure the USB Attached External HardDrive as a Drive to be recognized by the ESXi Host.

  1. Make sure that the USB Hard Disk is Formated as: FAT16, otherwise it will never be recognized.
  2. Login to ESXi Shell via SSH and disable USB Arbitrator service using this command: /etc/init.d/usbarbitrator stop
  3. Plug-in the USB Device to the ESXi Host, now verify if the Storage device is recognized by running: esxcli storage core device list | grep -i usb or by viewing the mounted filesystems using: esxcli storage filesystem list
  4. Lastly after you verified the USB device can be seen by your ESXi Host you can ofcourse browse and access that specific volume by looking under /vmfs/volumes
  5. If you want now to passtrough to a vGuest, you just have to re-enable the usbarbitrator service.

Now you can copy the Files you wish to be on that volume direclty from the SSH, so you don't have to start the arbitrator service, but if you wish to do if from a vGuest where you use robocopy or such, then you will have to do point 5.

Best regards,

Check my blog, and if my answere resolved the issue, please provide a feedback. Marco Frias - VMware is my World www.vmtn.blog

Well, the first problem I'm seeing is that I would need to reformat my 4TB external drive to FAT16 ... which apparently is only usable on drives up to 2GB? Currently, it's NTFS and without really meaning to I managed to add it as an external hard drive to one of my VM Guests. Not really sure that helps me, but I guess it's something. I can reformat it to ExFAT easily enough if that's needed, but I think that one tops out at 2TB?

If I'm missing something here, then let me know. Is there any way I can copy Templates to it as-is (attached to a VM guest) or even possibly with it attached to a different computer? The VM Hosts are old and none have USB 3.0 connections, which is yet another thing I'm trying to work around. I did get to a point that the Host recognizes the storage adapter, but it's not recognizing it as storage. Of course that's in the V-Center console, I'll see what I can see in command line.

Update: Okay getting "Connection Refused" attempting to SSH in ... even though everything seems to be setup correctly for it. LOL, the fun never ends.

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