Mounting Hard Drives (vmdk files) of a Virtual Machine Running on a ESX Server

Here’s a step-by-step guide on connecting VMFS Recovery to a running ESX/ESXi/vSphere server and mounting hard drives(*.vmdk files) of a running virtual machine. After connecting to the server, you can mount its file system as a local drive letter or use VMFS Recovery to undelete files, repair corrupted file system, or retrieve information from formatted, repartitioned and damaged virtual drives.

1. Make Sure SSH Connectivity is Enabled

In order to be able to connect to a running ESX/ESXi/vSphere server over the network, the server must have SSH connectivity enabled. Here’s a quick how-to guide on enabling SSH connection on ESX/ESXi/vSphere servers.

2. Mount the Physical Drive of the ESX (ESXi) Server

Mounting the physical drive hosting the ESX/ESXi server is done according to the screen shot below.

3. Open the Volume in Reader Mode

Right-click on the newly mounted volume, and select Expert -> Open as Reader from the pop-up menu.


4. Mount the Virtual Drive as a Disk

Locate the folder containing the virtual machine being recovered and mount its virtual hard drive image (a file with .vmdk extension) as a local disk.

5. Locate Virtual Partitions

After mounting the virtual drive as a local disk, the “Disk Images” group will contain information read from the newly added hard disk. A window below displays a virtual machine with two volumes labeled “/” and “Linux Swap Volume 1”.

6. Recover Newly Mapped Disks or Partitions

You can now access newly mounted partitions or the disk image with all the powerful recovery tools offered by VMFS Recovery. For example, you can launch the Uneraser tool to recover deleted files from a given partition.

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