9 Replies Latest reply on Jun 27, 2014 8:21 AM by mksila

    Virtual Machines on external hard drive

    pradeepavk Lurker

       

      I created and stored my VMWare serve virtual machines on an external hard drive but every time I start VMWare server 2 the datastore does not detect the external hard drive and the inventory says virutal machines are Unknown (inaccessible). How can I fix this issue so that the virtual machines on my external hard drive are detected and displayed for me to use them?

       

       

      See attached screenshot.

       

       

       

       

       

      Thanks.

       

       

        • 1. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
          asatoran Champion

          (no screenshot in post.)

           

          You'll need to provide more info.  What kind of external storage?  (eSATA, USB, Firewire, NAS-NFS, NAS-iSCSI?)  Version & build number of Server?  Host OS (Windows?  Linux?)  Can the host see the storage?  (i.e.: If a Windows host, you can see the VM files in Explorer.)  You might also want to read the document Read before posting questions to get suggestions as to the kinds of info to provide so that it would make it easier for those that are trying to answer your question.

           

          FWIW, I'm running Server2 on a Windows 2003 host.  VMs are on internal SATA, external eSATA, external Firewire and external NAS over iSCSI.

          • 2. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
            pradeepavk Lurker

            I am running VMWare server 2 (latest version). The VMs are on an external USB hard drive. This does not work on both XP and Windows 7 host OS. Windows host is able to see the external hard drive. Actually when I click refresh datastore VMWare server sees the external hard drive but the VMs are still inaccessible.

            • 3. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
              asatoran Champion

              I am running VMWare server 2 (latest version)....

               

              In the future, you'll want to include the actual build number.  Sometimes certain build numbers have specific issues with specific versions of host OS.  (i.e.:  build 12345 might have problems with Windows XP-SP3, but not XP-SP2.)  And if you post on the day VMWare releases a new build, then you wouldn't have the "latest version."    So best to actually say what specific version.

               

              ...The VMs are on an external USB hard drive. This does not work on both XP and Windows 7 host OS. Windows host is able to see the external hard drive....

               

              The same USB HD on multiple hosts have the same problem?  Have you considered that your drive may be having problems?  Have you run scandisk on it?

               

              ...Actually when I click refresh datastore VMWare server sees the external hard drive but the VMs are still inaccessible.

               

              And what do you mean by "still inaccessable"?  Do you not see the VMs in inventory?  Were the VMs ever in the inventory in the first place?  Can you add them back in to the inventory by clicking "Add virtual machine to inventory"?

              • 4. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
                pradeepavk Lurker

                 

                VMWare server version: 2.0.2

                 

                 

                build: 203138

                 

                 

                I don't think there is any problem with the external hard disk because I can create a new virtual machine and use it but if I close the VMWare Infrastructure Web Access then two things happen next time I start VMWare Server

                 

                 

                - First the external drive shows as 0GB in the datastores but after refreshing the datastore the external drive is shown in datastore. Every time I start VMWare server the external drive does not show in datastores; I have to refresh datastores.

                 

                 

                - The virtual machines in the inventory are showing up as Unknown (Inaccessible). If I click on the virtual machine an Inaccessible virtual machine screen is shown where there is a link to remove the virtual machine.

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                Yes, I am able to add a new virtual machine to the inventory.

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                • 5. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
                  asatoran Champion

                  I don't think there is any problem with the external hard disk because I can create a new virtual machine and use it...

                   

                  But are you sure?  Have you checked with Scandisk or something?  Just because you can write to the disk, does NOT mean that the disk doesn't have bad blocks.

                   

                  ...but if I close the VMWare Infrastructure Web Access then two things happen next time I start VMWare Server

                   

                  - First the external drive shows as 0GB in the datastores but after refreshing the datastore the external drive is shown in datastore. Every time I start VMWare server the external drive does not show in datastores; I have to refresh datastores.

                   

                  - The virtual machines in the inventory are showing up as Unknown (Inaccessible). If I click on the virtual machine an Inaccessible virtual machine screen is shown where there is a link to remove the virtual machine.

                   

                  Yes, I am able to add a new virtual machine to the inventory.

                   

                  And on the external drive datastore, can you add the existing virtual machines?

                   

                  Are your hard drives "powering down"?  External hard drives often will go to sleep after a period of inactivity.  Windows XP by default will shut off the USB ports as well.  So if the drives don't power back up fast enough, then Server would lose it's datastore.  The virtual machines would be remembered in the inventory, as you've seen.  But because the datastore was not found, the virtual machines are marked as inaccessable, just like you've seen.

                   

                  In general, you'll want to configure your USB ports and hard drives to NOT go to sleep.  VMWare Server, being designed for backend servers, doesn't expect the hard drives to power down.  The default for server versions of Windows is to NOT power down the hard drives, whereas the default for "workstation" and home versions of Windows IS to power down the hard drives.  VMWare Server only supports server versions of Windows as hosts, thus my point that this implies that VMWare Server does not expect to have to wait for a drive to wake up.

                   

                  Also realize that you're using VMWare Server on unsupported host OS' (WinXP & Win7.)  Unless there is something specific about Server that you need, you may be better off with Workstation or Player.  Workstation 7 & Player 3 are supported on Win7 hosts.  Player is free and now includes the ability to create and edit virtual machines.  So, IMHO, Player 3 is a better option than running Server on XP / VIsta / Win7.  It's supported, so you'll less likely have to deal with strange or undocumented quirks and glitches.

                  • 6. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
                    pradeepavk Lurker

                    The thing is that the vitual machine works after I create it until I restart the computer. If I shutdown my computer and restart and then call up VMWare server home page then the virtual machines are shown inaccessible.  I don't know what else to do at this time. BTW, where are the virtual machines (inventory) stored like in a text file or some registry entry?

                    • 7. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
                      asatoran Champion

                      This really sounds like your drives are not "spun up and ready" when the VMWare Server services starts.  Likely Windows is loading all of it's other services and doesn't have the drives ready when the VMWare Server services starts up and is looking for the datastore.  Think of it this way: VMWare Server was designed for backend servers.  No "real server" uses USB drives.  So VMWare Server on Windows desktop with a USB drive not only is an unsupported environment, it likely was never tested.  Meaning VMWare likely didn't spend any time and effort checking Server on "comsumer grade" USB drives.

                       

                      I would really recommend you use Workstation or Player.  Workstation 7 and Player 3 can run Server 2 virtual machines without conversion.  Both do NOT use datastores, thus eliminitating your datastore issue, and both list Windows XP and Windows 7 as supported host OS.  Also, Player 3 is free so there's no real cost to switch to Player 3.  Additionally, Workstation and Player have better graphics support for virtual machines so you may actually get an improvement in your virtual machines by switching.

                       

                      The only major feature you have with Server and not with Workstation or Player is the ability to run virtual machines automatically as a service.  But that can be worked around by shortcuts in the Startup folder and setting Windows to autologon.  So again, no real cost to switch to Player 3. 

                       

                      If you insist on using Server2, then try setting the VMWare Server services to manual.  After rebooting your computer, wait a few minutes for Windows to finish loading everything.  (Even after you see the desktop, Windows is still loading things in the background, even with Windows 7.  It can take 5 min or more for all the services to completely finish loading.)  Then manually start the VMWare services.  You can write a batchfile to simplify that.  When I ran Server1 on my XP workstation, one of the VMWare services started too quickly and wouldn't load after a reboot because one of the dependent services hadn't started yet.  So I had to manually start the service.  This was not a big deal to me because I didn't have any virtual machines autostarting.

                      • 8. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
                        PaulSvirin Expert

                        You can try mapping the external drive to local folder like this: http://msmvps.com/blogs/martinzugec/archive/2008/03/30/map-external-drive-to-local-folder.aspx

                         

                        who knows, maybe Vmware will be fooled

                         

                         

                        ---

                        Paul Svirin

                        StarWind Software developer ( http://www.starwindsoftware.com )

                        • 9. Re: Virtual Machines on external hard drive
                          mksila Lurker

                          Here is the answer:

                           

                          http://www.paulgrimley.com/2009/06/vmware-server-2-unknown-inaccessible.html

                           

                          Basically you need to restart the ‘VMware Host Agent’ service - then VMware will see your external drive and all will be well.

                           

                          Mike