VMFS Recovery™
Recover data from damaged or formatted VMFS disks or VMDK files
Recover data from damaged or formatted VMFS disks or VMDK files
Last updated: Jun 10, 2024

How to Restore VMware VMs

Mastering the restoration of VMware virtual machines (VMs) is vital for sustaining business operations and minimizing interruptions due to data loss or system breakdowns. VMware, a frontrunner in the virtualization space, provides robust options for the backup and restoration of VMs, enabling your virtual infrastructure to recover quickly and effectively from a variety of setbacks. This guide will walk you through the critical steps for VMware VM restoration, detailing the preparatory phase, the array of restoration methods at your disposal, and the best practices to ensure effective recovery. Whether you're addressing unintended file deletions, battling data corruption, or aiming to return to a prior configuration, this detailed guide will arm you with the necessary insights and capabilities to confidently manage the restoration process.

How do I restore VMware VM

Restoring a VMware virtual machine (VM) can be performed through several methods, depending on your backup solution and the specific requirements of the restoration process. Below is a general guide covering common steps to restore a VMware VM, focusing on VMware's native tools and features like VMware vSphere and third-party backup solutions.

Preparing for Restoration

  1. 1. Verify Backup Availability: Ensure you have a valid backup of the VM you intend to restore. This could be a snapshot, a backup file created by VMware Data Protection or a third-party backup solution like Veeam, or an exported OVF template.

  2. 2. Assess Restoration Needs: Determine the reason for the restoration (e.g., data corruption, accidental deletion) and the required restoration point. This will help you choose the most appropriate restoration method.

  3. 3. Environment Check: Make sure there is sufficient storage space on your datastore for the restored VM. Also, verify network settings and any specific VM configuration requirements.

Using VMware vSphere to Restore VMs

If you're using snapshots within VMware vSphere:

  1. 1. Access vSphere Client: Log in to the vSphere Client.

  2. 2. Navigate to the VM: Find the VM you wish to restore in the inventory.

  3. 3. Revert to Snapshot: Right-click the VM, select "Snapshots", then "Manage Snapshots". Choose the relevant snapshot and click "Revert to". This action will return the VM to the state it was in at the snapshot time.

For full VM restoration using backups:

  1. 1. Access Backup Location: Locate the backup file on your backup storage.

  2. 2. Use VMware Data Protection or Third-Party Backup Tool: Follow the specific instructions provided by your backup solution to restore the VM. This usually involves using the backup management interface to select the VM backup and the restore point.

  3. 3. Monitor Restoration Process: Restoration time will vary based on the size of the VM and the performance of your storage system. Monitor the process through the backup tool or vSphere Client.

Using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery Tool

DiskInternals VMFS Recovery is a specialized software designed for recovering data from VMFS, VMDK, and ESX(i) servers. It's particularly useful in scenarios where VMs have been deleted, corrupted, or otherwise become inaccessible. Here’s how you can use it to restore your VMware VM:

  1. 1. Install DiskInternals VMFS Recovery: Download and install DiskInternals VMFS Recovery on a Windows machine. Ensure this machine has network access to the datastore containing your VMFS volumes.

  2. 2. Launch the Tool: Open DiskInternals VMFS Recovery. The user-friendly wizard will guide you through the initial steps.

  3. 3. Connect to the VMFS Volume: The software allows you to scan local drives or connect to remote VMFS volumes hosting your VMware VMs. If connecting remotely, you'll need to specify the IP address and credentials for the ESXi server.

  4. 4. Scan for Lost Data: Once connected to the appropriate VMFS volume, initiate a scan for lost or deleted VMs. The tool will analyze the file system to locate recoverable VMs and files.

  5. 5. Preview Recoverable VMs: After the scan completes, you can preview the found VMs and files within the DiskInternals VMFS Recovery interface. This feature helps verify the data integrity before restoration.

  6. 6. Recover the VM: Select the VM or files you wish to recover, and choose a destination on your local system or an accessible network location to save the restored data. The tool supports recovering entire VMs as well as individual files, offering flexibility depending on your needs.

  7. 7. Restore VM to the Server: Once the data is recovered and saved to your chosen location, you can upload the VM files back to your VMware environment. Use the vSphere Client or similar tools to register the VM and configure it according to your environment's requirements.

Post-Restoration Steps

  • Verify VM Functionality: Power on the recovered VM to ensure it boots correctly and that all data and applications are intact and functioning as expected.
  • Backup Verification: It’s a good practice to take a fresh backup or snapshot of the VM post-restoration to secure your newly recovered data.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of the recovery process, including any challenges faced and how they were addressed. This documentation can be invaluable for future recovery efforts or for refining your data protection strategies.

Tips for a Successful Restoration with DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

  • Pre-Recovery Preparation: Before recovering data, ensure you have enough space on your system or network to save the recovered VMs.
  • Data Integrity Check: Utilize the preview feature to check the integrity of files before proceeding with the recovery, to ensure that the restored data will be usable.
  • Consult Documentation: For specific features, settings, or troubleshooting, refer to DiskInternals VMFS Recovery's official documentation or support resources for guidance.

Using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery offers a powerful solution for restoring lost or damaged VMware VMs, providing a lifeline in critical data loss scenarios.

Tip: VM backup vs Snapshot

Restore an Individual VM

Restoring an individual VMware Virtual Machine (VM) requires a tailored approach, focusing on retrieving a single VM from your backup storage without affecting the rest of your virtual environment. The process varies slightly depending on the backup method or tool you're using, but the general steps can be applied universally. Below is a step-by-step guide to restoring an individual VM, incorporating practices for using VMware's native tools, third-party backup solutions, and specialized recovery tools like DiskInternals VMFS Recovery.

Using VMware's Native Tools

If your backup is a VM snapshot or clone:

  1. 1. Log in to vSphere Client: Start by logging into the vSphere Web Client or vCenter Server with appropriate credentials.

  2. 2. Navigate to the VM: Locate the VM that you need to restore from the list in your inventory.

  3. 3. Manage Snapshots: Right-click on the VM, select "Snapshots", then "Manage Snapshots". Here, you can see all available snapshots for the VM.

  4. 4. Revert or Restore: Choose the snapshot you wish to revert to and click "Revert to". If you've exported the VM as an OVF template or have a clone, you can deploy it by right-clicking on the datastore or the inventory space where you want to place the VM and following the deployment wizard.

Using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

For individual file or VM recovery from VMFS volumes:

  1. 1. Install and Launch DiskInternals VMFS Recovery: After installing the software on a Windows computer, open it and follow the wizard for initial steps.

  2. 2. Connect to the Datastore: Use the software to connect to your VMFS volume, either locally or over the network, by providing the ESXi server details.

  3. 3. Scan for Recoverable VMs: Perform a scan on the VMFS volume to locate deleted or lost VMs. The software will list recoverable files and VMs.

  4. 4. Preview and Recover: Preview the files to ensure the correct VM is being recovered. Select the VM or specific files you need and recover them to a safe location.

  5. 5. Re-upload the VM: Once the VM is recovered, use vSphere Client to upload the VMDK files back to your datastore, and register the VM in your inventory.

Using Third-Party Backup Solutions

With a tool like Veeam, Acronis, or any other backup solution:

  1. 1. Open the Backup Management Console: Access the console of your backup solution.

  2. 2. Locate the VM Backup: Find the backup job containing the individual VM you wish to restore.

  3. 3. Start the Restore Process: Initiate the restoration of the VM. You may have the option to restore the VM directly back to its original location, or to a new location if necessary.

  4. 4. Complete Restoration and Configuration: Follow the prompts to complete the restoration. You may need to reconfigure network settings or other properties once the VM is restored.

Post-Restoration Steps

  • Verification: Ensure the VM boots correctly and all services and data are accessible as expected.
  • Backup: Consider taking an immediate backup of the restored VM to secure your recent changes.
  • Documentation: Document the restoration process, including any issues encountered and solutions applied, for future reference.

Tips for Successful Restoration

  • Validate Backups Regularly: Regularly check the integrity of your backups to ensure they can be successfully restored.
  • Understand the Impact: Be aware of the impact of restoring a VM, especially regarding network settings, IP addresses, and interactions with other VMs in your environment.
  • Maintain Updated Documentation: Keep detailed records of your virtual environment and backup procedures to streamline any future restoration processes.

Restoring an individual VM can be a straightforward process with the right tools and a clear understanding of the steps involved. Whether utilizing VMware's native capabilities, a dedicated recovery tool like DiskInternals VMFS Recovery, or a third-party backup solution, the key to a successful restoration lies in preparation, careful execution, and post-restoration validation.

Restore VM from datastore

Restoring a VMware Virtual Machine (VM) directly from a datastore is a critical task that can be accomplished using VMware vSphere or similar management tools. This process is typically used when you have VM files (like .vmdk, .vmx, and others) already present on a datastore but the VM is not currently registered in vSphere or has been deleted from the inventory. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to restore a VM from a datastore:

1. Locate the VM Files

First, you need to ensure that the VM's files are intact on the datastore. This includes, at a minimum, the .vmx (VM configuration file) and .vmdk (disk file).

2. Log in to vSphere Client

Access the vSphere Client (HTML5 based) or the vSphere Web Client (Flash based, for older versions) and connect to your vCenter Server or directly to the ESXi host where the datastore resides.

3. Browse the Datastore

  • Navigate to Storage in the vSphere Client.
  • Locate and right-click the datastore containing your VM files.
  • Select Browse Files or Datastore Browser from the context menu to open the datastore browser.

4. Locate the VMX File

Within the datastore browser, navigate to the folder that contains the VM's files. Look for the .vmx file, which is the primary configuration file for the VM.

5. Register the VM

  • Right-click the .vmx file and choose Register VM. This action will add the VM back to the inventory.
  • Follow any prompts to complete the registration, including naming the VM and selecting a location for it within your inventory structure.

6. Review VM Settings

After the VM is registered:

  • Right-click the newly registered VM in your inventory and select Edit Settings.
  • Verify the VM's settings, such as network configuration, memory, CPU, and other hardware settings, to ensure they are correct before powering on the VM.

7. Power On the VM

Once you are satisfied that the VM is configured correctly, right-click it and choose Power On. Monitor the VM to ensure it boots correctly and is functioning as expected.


If the VM does not boot correctly or if you encounter issues, consider the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Verify that the VM's network settings match your current network configuration.
  • Check the VM's logs for any error messages that can provide clues to the problem.
  • Ensure that there are no conflicts with other VMs, such as duplicate MAC addresses or IP conflicts.

Best Practices

  • Backup: Ensure you have backups of your VMs. Restoring from a datastore should not be a substitute for regular backups.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of the VMs in your environment, including datastore locations and configuration details.
  • Regular Checks: Periodically verify the integrity of the files in your datastores and the health of the datastores themselves.

Restoring a VM from a datastore is a straightforward process but requires careful attention to detail to ensure the VM functions correctly post-restoration. Always ensure your actions align with your organization's IT policies and best practices for managing virtual environments.

Restoring a VMware virtual machine using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery software

Restoring a VMware Virtual Machine (VM) using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery is an effective method for recovering VMs, including their files and configurations, from VMFS (Virtual Machine File System) volumes. This process is especially useful when dealing with data loss, corruption, or accessing data from a failed VMware ESXi server. Here's a step-by-step guide to restoring a VM using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery software:

Step 1: Install DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

  • Download the DiskInternals VMFS Recovery software from the official DiskInternals website.
  • Install the software on a Windows machine. Ensure this machine can access the datastore where your VMFS volumes are located, either directly through a local connection or over the network.

Step 2: Launch DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

  • Open DiskInternals VMFS Recovery after installation.
  • The software might prompt you to install additional drivers; follow the on-screen instructions to complete any required setup.

Step 3: Connect to the VMFS Volume

  • Select the "Open Disk" option from the main menu to browse local drives, or connect to remote VMFS volumes if your VMFS volume is on a networked ESXi server.
  • For remote access, you'll need to provide the IP address and credentials for the ESXi server.

Step 4: Scan the VMFS Volume

  • Choose the VMFS volume that contains the lost or deleted VMs.
  • Initiate a scan for lost data. DiskInternals VMFS Recovery will scan the selected VMFS volume for any recoverable VMs and files. This process may take some time, depending on the size of the volume and the amount of data.

Step 5: Find and Preview Recoverable VMs

  • Once the scan is complete, the software will display a list of recoverable files and VMs.
  • Navigate through the list to find the specific VM or files you wish to recover. DiskInternals VMFS Recovery allows you to preview files, helping you verify the data before recovery.

Step 6: Recover the VM

  • Select the VM or specific files you want to recover.
  • Right-click and choose "Recover" or use the "Recover" button in the toolbar.
  • You will be prompted to choose a location to save the recovered files. It's recommended to save the recovered data to an external drive or a different location than the original VMFS volume to prevent data overwriting.

Step 7: Restore VM to VMware Environment

  • Once the recovery process is complete, you will have the VM files (such as .vmdk and .vmx) saved to your chosen location.
  • Upload these files back to your VMware datastore using the vSphere Client or ESXi web interface.
  • Register the VM by right-clicking the .vmx file in the datastore browser within the vSphere Client and selecting "Register VM". This adds the VM back to the inventory.

Step 8: Verify and Power On the VM

  • After registering the VM, verify its configuration settings, such as network adapters, disk settings, and resource allocations.
  • Power on the VM and monitor its boot process to ensure it starts correctly and all data is accessible.

Additional Tips

  • Ensure Compatibility: Verify that the version of DiskInternals VMFS Recovery you are using supports the VMFS version of your volumes.
  • Data Safety: Recover data to a different storage device to avoid potential data loss.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of the recovery process, including any issues encountered and how they were resolved.

Restoring a VMware VM using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery is a powerful way to recover lost or corrupted VMs. It’s a valuable tool for IT professionals managing VMware environments, offering a lifeline in situations where VM data needs to be recovered quickly and reliably.


  • How do I restore my ESXi virtual machine?

    Restoring an ESXi VMware backup can be essential for recovering from data loss or system failures. Using VMware backup solutions specifically designed for ESXi environments is a reliable way to ensure your VMs can be efficiently restored when needed. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to restore your ESXi VM using VMware backup solutions:

    1. Prepare Your Environment

    • Verify Backup Availability: Ensure that you have a recent and valid backup of the ESXi VM that you wish to restore. This backup could be in the form of VM snapshots, files backed up using VMware Data Protection or a third-party solution optimized for VMware ESXi environments.
    • Check ESXi Server and Storage: Ensure the ESXi server is running and has sufficient storage space available for the restoration process. The target datastore should have enough free space to accommodate the restored VM.

    2. Access Your VMware Backup Solution

    • Login to the Backup Console: Access the management console of your VMware backup solution. This could be VMware vSphere Data Protection, Veeam Backup & Replication, or any other backup software that supports ESXi.
    • Select the Restore Option: Navigate to the restore section of your backup console. This area allows you to browse through available backups and select the specific VM you need to restore.

    3. Choose the VM and Restore Point

    • Identify the VM: Locate the VM to be restored in the backup inventory. Ensure you select the correct VM and the appropriate restore point, typically based on the date and time of the backup.
    • Specify Restore Parameters: Depending on your backup solution, you may have several restore options. These can include restoring the VM to its original location, restoring to a new location, or even restoring individual files or virtual disks instead of the entire VM.

    4. Initiate the Restoration Process

    • Start the Restore: Once you've selected the VM and the restore point, initiate the restore process. The time this takes can vary greatly depending on the size of the VM and the performance of your storage and network.
    • Monitor the Restore: Keep an eye on the restoration process through the backup console. Most backup solutions provide a status update or progress bar.

    5. Post-Restoration Steps

    • VM Configuration: After the VM has been restored, you may need to reconfigure certain settings, especially if you've restored the VM to a new location. This can include network settings, IP addresses, or storage configurations.
    • Power On the VM: Once you're satisfied with the configuration, power on the VM. Monitor the boot process to ensure the VM starts up correctly and all services are running as expected.
    • Verify Data Integrity: Check the restored VM for data integrity and functionality. Make sure all applications and services within the VM are operating correctly.
    • Backup Verification: After a successful restore, consider taking a new snapshot or backup of the VM. This ensures you have a recent restore point moving forward.
  • Can you recover deleted VMs?

    How to recover deleted VMware virtual machine? Yes, it is possible to recover deleted VMs (Virtual Machines), but the success of recovery largely depends on the preparation and tools available prior to the deletion. Here’s how you can approach the recovery of a deleted VM:

    1. Using Backups

    The most reliable way to recover a deleted VM is from backups. Regularly backing up VMs using VMware’s native backup solutions, third-party backup software, or manual methods ensures that you can restore a VM to its state at the time of the last backup. This process typically involves:

    • Accessing the backup software or service.
    • Locating the backup of the deleted VM.
    • Initiating the restore process to bring the VM back into your environment.

    2. VM Snapshots

    If you had snapshots of the VM, these could be used to revert the VM to a previous state. However, snapshots are not a substitute for backups and are not designed for long-term data protection. If the entire VM was deleted, snapshots alone would not be sufficient unless the snapshot files (.vmdk) are intact and you have a way to recreate the VM using those files.

    3. Datastore Browsing

    If the VM was deleted from the inventory but its files remain on the datastore, you can recover it by:

    • Browsing the datastore through the vSphere Client.
    • Locating the VM’s folder and its primary configuration file (.vmx).
    • Right-clicking the .vmx file and selecting “Register VM.” This will add the VM back to the inventory, allowing you to power it on.

    4. Using Recovery Tools

    For scenarios where the VM has been deleted from both the inventory and the datastore, specialized recovery tools like DiskInternals VMFS Recovery can be used to attempt recovery of the VM’s files from the VMFS (VMware File System) datastore. This method requires:

    • Scanning the datastore with the recovery tool.
    • Identifying recoverable VM files.
    • Restoring these files to a safe location.
    • Re-registering the VM in the inventory if the critical files (such as .vmx and .vmdk) are successfully recovered.

    5. Professional Data Recovery Services

    If other methods fail or if the data is critical, professional data recovery services might be able to recover the deleted VM. These services can often recover data even in challenging situations, such as hardware failure or complex data loss scenarios.

  • How to reset VM in VMware?

    VMware reset virtual machine refers to performing a hard reset of the virtual machine, similar to pressing the reset button on a physical computer. This action forcefully restarts the VM without a proper shutdown of the operating system, which can be useful in situations where the VM is unresponsive. Here's how to do it briefly:

    Using vSphere Client/Web Client:

    • Open vSphere Client: Log in to your vSphere Client (HTML5) or Web Client (Flash-based for older versions).
    • Navigate to the VM: Find the virtual machine you want to reset in the inventory list.
    • Reset the VM: Right-click on the VM and select Power > Reset. Confirm the action if prompted.

    Using ESXi Host Client:

    • Access ESXi Host Client: Log in to the ESXi Host Client through a web browser using the ESXi host's IP address or hostname.

    • Locate the VM: In the left-hand navigator, click on Virtual Machines and select the VM you wish to reset.

    • Perform the Reset: With the VM selected, click on the Power button and choose Reset from the dropdown menu. Confirm the action.


    • Data Loss: A hard reset can lead to unsaved data loss within the VM. Use this option as a last resort if the VM is not responding to normal shutdown commands.
    • File System Corruption: There's a risk of file system corruption, so it's advisable to attempt a graceful shutdown or restart first if possible.
    • Snapshot Impact: If you're using snapshots, consider the state changes that will occur due to the reset, especially if applications are in the middle of transactions.

    Resetting a VM is a straightforward process but should be used judiciously to avoid potential data loss or corruption.


  • How do I restore a VM from Windows backup?

    To restore virtual machines using Windows Server Backup, follow these steps:

    1. Open Windows Server Backup from Administrative Tools.
    2. In the Actions menu, click on Recover.
    3. Choose the server from which you want to recover data, then click Next.
    4. Select the desired date and time for the restore point, and click Next.
  • Can we restore deleted VM?

    You can restore a deleted virtual machine (VM) from a primary or secondary backup stored on a datastore to any ESXi host of your choice.

  • How do I restore a VM replica?

    How to Restore VM Guest OS Files

    1. Open the Home view.
    2. Click on the Replicas node in the inventory pane.
    3. Right-click the desired VM replica and select Restore guest files > Microsoft Windows.
    4. In the wizard, navigate to the Restore Point step and select the appropriate restore point.
  • How do I restore a VM from inventory?

    To restore the virtual machine, navigate to the "Backups" page, select the desired VM backup, and click "Restore." Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the restoration process.

  • How do I restore a Windows virtual machine?
    1. Open Windows Server Backup from Administrative Tools.
    2. In the Actions menu, select Recover.
    3. Choose the server from which you want to recover data, then click Next.
    4. Select the desired date and time for the restore point, and click Next.

Related articles

FREE DOWNLOADVer 4.22, WinBUY NOWFrom $699

Please rate this article.