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: Jul 03, 2024

vSphere Data Recovery - How to Recover VM in vSphere

Enable all the data backup and recovery features of VMware vSphere VMs. If you don’t make offline backups to complement the setup, you will, one day, face critical data loss situations that only an offline backup can save the day. However, this does not dissolve the fact that you should set up vSphere data recovery configurations for your VMware VMs.

Similar to vSphere HA and DRS functionalities for clustered environments, VMware also offers a vSphere feature known as vSphere Replication. This feature, when configured, replicates and recovers VMs that are in the same vCenter Server instance or DR site. This article explains how vSphere Replication works, and how to perform vSphere data recovery.

What is vSphere Data Recovery?

Put simply, this refers to the built-in data recovery features in vSphere – provided by VMware. The data recovery feature of vSphere is called Replication. vSphere Replication attempts to recover virtual machines by leveraging data from the most recent replication of that VM on the target site, without any synchronization. This feature is able to recover only one VM at a time.

Replication is a vSphere Cluster feature, just like HA and DRS – it works for failover situations. But first, you need to set up a DR site. A Disaster Recovery (DR) site is an environment of similarly configured VMware vSphere clusters in production; so, in a case of critical failure, the VMs in the production site can be replicated to the DR facility, thanks to vSphere Replication.

How does vSphere Data Recovery Work?

vSphere Data Recovery offers flexibility in Recovery Point Objective (RPO) settings, which can be configured from as little as 5 minutes to as long as 24 hours. RPOs dictate the maximum acceptable data loss during a failover event. Additionally, users have the option to set a Retention Policy (RTP) for multiple point-in-time (MPIT) replica instances, allowing for up to 24 snapshots per replicated virtual machine. Here’s how the technology works:

  • Step One: You have to configure vSphere Replication through the vSphere Web Client or vSphere Replication Management Interface (VRMI).
  • Step Two: Select VMs to replicate and specify the replication settings, including the replication frequency (RPO) and the target location for the replicas.
  • Step Three: vSphere Replication will run an initial full replication of the selected VMs to the target site – copying the entire VM’s data over the network to create an initial replica. Afterward, vSphere Replication will continuously monitor changes to the VMs' virtual disks and will capture any new changes asynchronously to the target site at the configured RPO interval. The replicated VMs will remain updated with the source VMs, with minimal impact on performance.
  • Step Four: Before recovering a VM on the target site, vSphere Replication ensures that the source site is available and the source virtual machine is powered off. If synchronization of the latest changes is chosen, vSphere Replication then synchronizes the changes from the source to the target site. But if not chosen or the source site is unavailable, vSphere Replication will use the latest available data at the target site for recovery.
  • Step Five: vSphere Replication registers the recovered virtual machine with the vCenter Server at the target site, ensuring its proper integration and management within the virtual infrastructure.

Note: vSphere Replication data recovery reconstructs the replicated .vmdk files to ensure data integrity and consistency. The newly replicated VM is reconfigured with the correct disk paths to align with the target environment.

vSphere Replication transfers data over the network using VMware's vSphere APIs for Data Protection (VADP). It compresses and encrypts the data for secure transmission and optimizes bandwidth usage to minimize network overhead.

How to Recover VMs in vSphere

  • Log in to the target site through vSphere Web Client, and on the home screen, click on Site Recovery 🡺 Open Site Recovery.
  • Select the relative site pair and click “View Details.”
  • Now, go to the Replications tab, click on the Incoming tab on the side pane, identify the VM you want to recover, and click on the Recover icon.
  • When the Recovery Wizard comes up, choose whether to sync recent changes or use the latest available data on the target site.
  • Optionally, you can also choose the Power on the virtual machine after recovery checkbox.
  • Choose a folder to recover to, and select a host with read and write access to all datastores used as targets for the replica disks.
  • Review the options you have selected and click on the FINISH button. The recovery will be completed in a matter of seconds.

Note: The steps to recover your VMs using vSphere Replication may differ if you’re not using the vSphere Replication Appliance v8.5. The steps above are for vSphere Replication 8.5, it may differ slightly for other versions.

How to Recover VMs with DiskInternals VMFS Recovery™ Software

Using vSphere Replication for VM data backup and recovery is cool and handy. However, the setup is a bit complicated, and the recovery procedure is equally intricate. On the other hand, DiskInternals VMFS Recovery can help you achieve efficient and stress-free VMware data backup and recovery in a few clicks.

The DiskInternals VMFS Recovery is a professional third-party solution cherished by IT professionals and system admins for many decades now. It offers the best intuitive user interface and comes with a ton of handy features for VMware data recovery. This software can recover lost or corrupted VMs, as well as recover VMDK images on VMware-formatted disks.

Main Features:

  • Designed to clearly read the VMware VMFS file system
  • Recover data from corrupt or healthy VMFS-formatted drives
  • Supports remote recovery in online mode (No need to shutdown the VM)
  • Can recover VMFS drives stored on corrupted and inaccessible hard drives
  • Automated recovery via built-in Recovery Wizard
  • You can save or export recovered data to remote locations via FTP
  • Mounts virtual drives as local disks viewable in Windows File Explorer
  • Supports Unicode filenames and multi-level folders
  • VMFS partitions created in VMware vSphere 3.5 or later are supported
  • Supports VMFS3, VMFS5 and VMFS6
  • Recover files up to 64TB and VMFS5 drives with more than 100,000 files
  • Supports VMFS drives stored on all RAID types: JBOD, 0, 1, 1E, 0+1, etc.
  • Runs on all Windows OS versions and edition
  • Supports multiple file systems and Virtual Disk Images from VMware, VirtualBox, Microsoft VirtualPC, Parallels

How To Use DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

The DiskInternals VMFS Recovery supports all Windows OS native versions from Windows XP to Windows 11, as well as support Windows Server editions. It requires at least 4GB of RAM and 500MB of disk space for installation. You can also connect this software to your vSphere web client for access to your datastores via an SSH connection.

  • Step One: Foster an SSH connection by enabling SSH on your virtual server.
  • Step Two: Launch DiskInternals VMFS Recovery on the system where it is installed; on the home screen, click on Drives and select “Connect to remote SSH.” Enter the connection credentials to gain access to the ESXi server.
  • Step Three: Once connected, mount the virtual hard drives and partitions. Mount the physical hard drive for data recovery; you can also browse the datastore files and mount the VMDK files of your VMs.
  • Step Four: VMFS Recovery offers different scanning modes to search for recoverable VMs on your vSphere datastore. With your physical drive mounted, follow the prompts and use any of DiskInternals VMFS Recovery tools to recover your vSphere data.

Tip: here is all you need to know about vSphere Recovery!


VMware vSphere Replication works for “disaster recovery” and it’s fast, but this vSphere data recovery strategy is not so reliable as it only allows you to replicate virtual machines on the same site or the same vCenter Server instance.

Third-party solutions like the DiskInternals VMFS Recovery offer much more flexibility and features for enterprise vSphere data backup and recovery. Also, as a DiskInternals VMFS Recovery user, you can request Guided Recovery to have a trained data expert attempt to recover your lost VM data if you can’t get it done by yourself.


  • How do I recover a deleted VM from vSphere?

    How to Restore a Deleted VM in vSphere:

    • Navigate to the vSphere Web Client through the vCenter web interface.
    • Locate and click on the "Datacenter Object" in the navigation pane on the left side (for instance, "SPOC2" as mentioned in the example).
    • On the right-hand side, click on "Monitor" followed by selecting "IBM Spectrum Protect." Here, you'll find the list of deleted VMs.
    • To restore the deleted VM, use the "Actions" menu.
  • What is VMware site recovery?

    VMware Site Recovery leverages reliable replication, orchestration, and automation technologies within VMware Cloud on AWS, ensuring application protection during site outages.

  • How do I restore my VM vSphere client?


    • Access the target site through the vSphere Client.
    • From the home page, navigate to Site Recovery and select Open Site Recovery.
    • Within the Site Recovery home page, choose a site pair and click on View Details.
    • Go to the Replications tab, pick an incoming replication.
    • Click on the Recover icon to initiate the process.

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