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Recover data from damaged or formatted VMFS disks or VMDK files
Recover data from damaged or formatted VMFS disks or VMDK files
Last updated: Oct 05, 2023

VMware Data Recovery: What Is it?

Companies heavily depend on virtual storage devices to hold significant volumes of essential data. But with such convenience comes the looming threat of data loss, which can be disastrous for any enterprise.
Enter VMware Data Recovery—a robust and dependable tool crafted meticulously to tackle the demands of protecting and recovering data in virtual settings. In this piece, we'll dive deep into VMware Data Recovery, shedding light on its features, advantages, and its role in reducing the chances of data mishaps.
Whether you're an IT specialist on the hunt for an effective data recovery approach or someone intrigued by the nuances of VMware Data Recovery, this guide aims to illuminate. Journey with us as we navigate the realm of VMware Data Recovery, unveiling its potential to bolster your data protection game and guarantee smooth data retrieval when it's most crucial. Dive in for this enlightening voyage!

Comprehending Virtual Storage

Virtual storage refers to a method of data storage that operates in a virtualized environment, separate from the physical storage hardware. It is a key component of virtualization technology, which allows multiple virtual machines (VMs) or servers to share the same physical resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage, while maintaining isolation from each other.

In traditional physical storage setups, each server or machine has its own dedicated storage hardware, leading to potential inefficiencies and underutilization of resources. Virtual storage, on the other hand, creates an abstraction layer that decouples the storage from the underlying physical hardware. This abstraction enables more efficient allocation of storage resources and provides greater flexibility and scalability.

The virtual storage system operates through the use of virtual disks, which are files or logical entities that act as storage containers for data within the virtualized environment. These virtual disks are stored on a physical storage device but are managed and accessed as if they were separate physical drives for each virtual machine.

The advantages of virtual storage are manifold. Firstly, it allows for better utilization of storage resources, as multiple virtual machines can share the same physical storage space, reducing waste and lowering costs. Secondly, virtual storage facilitates easier management and migration of data between virtual machines, making tasks like backups, snapshots, and data recovery more efficient. Additionally, it simplifies the process of provisioning storage for new virtual machines, streamlining the deployment of resources in dynamic environments.

VMware is one of the prominent companies that offer virtual storage solutions, enabling businesses to leverage virtualization technology for their storage needs. As technology continues to evolve, virtual storage remains a crucial aspect of modern data management, empowering organizations with the flexibility and agility required to adapt to ever-changing IT demands.

Advantages of Virtual Storage

Virtual storage offers numerous advantages that have made it an essential component of modern data management. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. 1. Resource Utilization: Virtual storage allows for better utilization of storage resources. Multiple virtual machines can share the same physical storage space, optimizing the usage of storage capacity and reducing waste. This leads to cost savings and improved overall efficiency.

  2. 2. Flexibility and Scalability: With virtual storage, it is easier to scale storage resources up or down based on changing business needs. Administrators can allocate more storage to virtual machines or expand virtual disks without the need for physical hardware upgrades, making the storage environment highly adaptable and flexible.

  3. 3. Simplified Management: Managing storage in a virtualized environment is more streamlined compared to traditional storage setups. Centralized management tools provide administrators with a comprehensive view of the storage infrastructure, enabling them to efficiently monitor, allocate, and troubleshoot storage resources.

  4. 4. Data Migration and Mobility: Virtual storage allows for seamless data migration and mobility between different virtual machines and physical hosts. This capability is beneficial for tasks like load balancing, disaster recovery, and moving virtual machines between servers with minimal downtime.

  5. 5. Improved Backup and Recovery: Virtual storage facilitates efficient backups and quicker data recovery. Virtual machine snapshots and replication technologies enable administrators to create point-in-time copies of VMs, making data protection and recovery processes more agile and reliable.

  6. 6. Cost Savings: By consolidating storage resources and optimizing their use, virtual storage helps organizations save on hardware costs. Additionally, reduced energy consumption and simplified management contribute to overall cost-effectiveness.

  7. 7. Enhanced Data Protection: Virtual storage solutions often come with built-in data protection features, such as RAID configurations and data redundancy, which contribute to higher levels of data availability and resilience against hardware failures.

  8. 8. Testing and Development Benefits: Virtual storage environments are ideal for testing and development purposes. Administrators can easily clone virtual machines and create isolated environments for testing new applications or software updates without affecting the production environment.

  9. 9. Vendor Independence: Virtual storage solutions are typically compatible with various storage hardware vendors, providing organizations with the freedom to choose the storage infrastructure that best suits their needs and budget.

  10. 10. High Availability and Fault Tolerance: Virtual storage technologies, such as storage clusters and fault-tolerant configurations, can enhance the overall availability of data by mitigating the impact of hardware failures and ensuring continuous access to critical information.

Overall, the advantages of virtual storage contribute to a more agile, efficient, and cost-effective data management approach, empowering businesses to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving digital landscape with confidence.

What Is VMware Data Recovery?

VMware data recovery involves the restoration of lost or corrupted virtual machine data within ESXi and vSphere environments. This recovery process addresses various causes such as hardware failures, user mistakes, software glitches, and other factors that result in data loss.

VMware Data Recovery allows organizations to create backups of virtual machines (VMs) at various points in time, known as snapshots. These snapshots capture the entire state of the VMs at specific moments, including the operating system, applications, and data. In case of data loss or system failure, administrators can restore the VMs to a previous snapshot, effectively rolling back to a known working state.

Why Is VMware Data Recovery Important?

  1. 1. Deduplication and Compression: To optimize storage usage, VMware Data Recovery employs deduplication and compression techniques, identifying and eliminating redundant data in backups, thereby reducing storage requirements.

  2. 2. Integration with vCenter: VMware Data Recovery integrates with VMware vCenter Server, the central management platform for VMware virtualization environments. This integration streamlines the backup and recovery processes, enabling centralized management of data protection tasks.

  3. 3. Scheduling and Automation: Administrators can set up automated backup schedules, ensuring regular and consistent data protection without manual intervention.

  4. 4. Point-in-time Snapshots: The solution offers the ability to take multiple point-in-time snapshots, allowing administrators to restore VMs to different states, depending on the specific recovery point needed.

  5. 5. File-Level Recovery: VMware Data Recovery often provides file-level recovery, enabling the restoration of individual files or folders from a VM backup without restoring the entire virtual machine.

  6. 6. Incremental Backups: After an initial full backup, subsequent backups are often incremental, meaning only the changes since the last backup are stored. This approach reduces backup times and saves storage space.

Statistics on Data Loss

Data loss poses one of the most significant challenges to organizations worldwide. Unfortunately, many businesses underestimate the extent of the risks they face and the probability of such incidents occurring. To shed light on the severity of data loss, here are some staggering statistics that offer valuable perspective:

  1. 1. Downtime Costs: The impact of data loss on businesses is financially devastating. On average, each minute of downtime costs organizations approximately $1,467, which escalates to a jaw-dropping $88,000 per hour. The financial toll of prolonged data unavailability can be crippling.

  2. 2. Low Recovery Rates: Alarming figures reveal that among the companies that suffer data loss, a staggering 94% fail to recover their lost data fully. This highlights the importance of robust data recovery strategies to mitigate potential damages.

  3. 3. Grim Business Outlook: Data loss can have dire consequences for an enterprise's survival. Shockingly, almost three-quarters of businesses that experience data loss end up closing their doors within just two years of the incident. This emphasizes the critical need for comprehensive data protection measures.

  4. 4. Leading Causes: Hard drive crashes are the primary culprits behind close to 70% of all data loss incidents. These unexpected hardware failures serve as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of storage devices.

  5. 5. Human Error Factor: Surprisingly, human error accounts for approximately 14% of data loss cases. Simple mistakes can lead to irrevocable data loss, emphasizing the significance of employee education and training in data handling practices.

  6. 6. Data Recovery Costs: Should a hard drive break down, data recovery efforts can be expensive. The average cost to retrieve data from a damaged hard drive ranges from $100 to $2,000, depending on the severity of the failure. Investing in proactive data backup solutions becomes a crucial cost-effective measure.

These data loss statistics underscore the urgency for organizations to prioritize data security and implement robust data protection strategies. By comprehending the real risks and consequences associated with data loss, businesses can take proactive measures to safeguard their valuable information, ensuring continuity, and safeguarding their future in an increasingly data-driven world.

Frequent Factors Leading to Data Loss on Virtual Storage Devices

Data loss on virtual storage devices can occur due to a variety of factors, some of which are specific to the virtualized environment. Here are frequent factors leading to data loss on virtual storage devices:

  1. 1. Physical Failures: Just like physical storage devices, the underlying hardware supporting virtual storage can experience failures. This includes issues with hard drives, RAID arrays, storage controllers, and other components, leading to data inaccessibility or loss.

  2. 2. Logical Failures: Misconfigurations in the virtual storage infrastructure or errors in storage management software settings can inadvertently lead to data loss. Incorrect settings or changes to virtual storage configurations may result in data corruption or accidental deletion.

  3. 3. Snapshot Mismanagement: Virtual storage often relies on snapshots to create backup points. Mishandling snapshots, failing to maintain an adequate number of backups, or improper snapshot management can lead to data loss if an unexpected issue occurs during the backup or restore process.

  4. 4. Purple Screen of Death: Data corruption can affect both the virtual machine's disk files and the virtual storage infrastructure. Corruption may be caused by various factors, including software bugs, hardware issues, power outages, or malware.

  5. 5. Virtual Machine Failures: Virtual machines may experience critical failures due to software bugs, application crashes, or issues with the guest operating system. Such failures can result in data loss within the affected virtual machine.

  6. 6. Accidental Deletion: Human error is a common cause of data loss, where administrators or users accidentally delete important files or entire virtual machines without proper backups in place.

  7. 7. Security Breaches and Cyberattacks: Virtual storage devices are not immune to cyber threats. Ransomware attacks, data breaches, and other security incidents can result in data loss or data being rendered inaccessible.

  8. 8. Data Migration and VM Movement: While moving virtual machines between hosts or datastores, there is a risk of data loss if the migration process encounters issues or if there is a mismatch between source and destination configurations.

  9. 9. Insufficient Backup Strategy: Inadequate or infrequent data backup practices can lead to data loss when unforeseen events occur, such as hardware failures, data corruption, or malware attacks.

  10. 10. Resource Overcommitment: Overcommitting resources in virtualized environments, such as over-allocating storage, can lead to performance issues or data loss when storage runs out unexpectedly.

  11. 11. Natural disasters: Natural disasters can have catastrophic effects on data storage and management systems, including virtual storage devices. These events are typically beyond human control and can lead to significant data loss or damage.

To mitigate the risks of data loss on virtual storage devices, organizations should implement comprehensive data protection strategies, including regular backups, snapshot management, disaster recovery plans, and proper storage monitoring and maintenance. Regular testing of backup and recovery processes is essential to ensure data availability and minimize the impact of potential data loss incidents.

Statistics on Data Loss

  1. 1. Backup and Restore: VMware Data Recovery provided automated backup and restore capabilities for virtual machines within VMware vSphere environments. It allowed administrators to create full or incremental backups of virtual machines, capturing their entire state at specific points in time.

  2. 2. Deduplication and Compression: The solution supported deduplication and compression techniques to optimize storage space usage. Redundant data within backup sets was identified and removed, reducing the overall backup storage requirements.

  3. 3. Integration with vCenter: VMware Data Recovery integrated with VMware vCenter Server, the central management platform for VMware virtualization environments. This integration facilitated streamlined backup management and allowed administrators to schedule and configure backup tasks from within vCenter.

  4. 4. Backup Scheduling: Administrators could set up automated backup schedules based on the desired frequency and retention policies. This ensured regular and consistent data protection without the need for constant manual intervention.

  5. 5. Point-in-time Snapshots: The solution allowed administrators to take multiple point-in-time snapshots of virtual machines. These snapshots served as recovery points, enabling administrators to restore VMs to different states, depending on the specific recovery point needed.

  6. 6. File-Level Recovery: VMware Data Recovery often provided file-level recovery options. Administrators could extract individual files or folders from a VM backup without the need to restore the entire virtual machine.

  7. 7. Disk-Level Recovery: In addition to file-level recovery, the solution supported disk-level recovery, enabling administrators to restore entire virtual disks or specific disk configurations as needed.

  8. 8. Incremental Backups: After an initial full backup, subsequent backups were typically incremental, capturing only the changes made since the last backup. This approach minimized backup time and reduced storage requirements.

  9. 9. Centralized Management: VMware Data Recovery allowed centralized management of backup tasks, providing a single interface to monitor and control data protection activities across multiple virtual machines.

It is essential to verify the current functionalities and capabilities of VMware Data Recovery with the latest information available on VMware's official website or documentation, as product features and updates can change over time.

DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, VMware had announced the End of Availability (EOA) for VMware Data Recovery. It meant that VMware had discontinued the product and would no longer offer it for sale or support it. Organizations were encouraged to explore alternative backup and recovery solutions.

DiskInternals VMFS Recovery is a third-party data recovery software designed specifically for VMware virtual machine file system (VMFS). It aims to help users recover data from corrupted or deleted virtual machine disks and files within VMware vSphere environments.

Here are some key features and advantages of DiskInternals VMFS Recovery that differentiate it from VMware Data Recovery:

  1. 1. Focused VMFS Recovery Solution: While VMware Data Recovery is a comprehensive backup and recovery solution for VMware environments, DiskInternals VMFS Recovery is specifically tailored for VMFS file system recovery. It is designed to address data loss scenarios specific to virtual machine disks, virtual disk snapshots, and VMFS volumes.

  2. 2. Data Recovery from Corrupted VMFS Volumes: DiskInternals VMFS Recovery specializes in recovering data from corrupted, formatted, or inaccessible VMFS volumes. It can handle various VMFS file system issues, including disk errors, partition table problems, and file system corruption.

  3. 3. VMFS Snapshot Recovery: DiskInternals VMFS Recovery has the capability to recover individual virtual machine disk snapshots. This feature allows users to restore specific snapshots of a virtual machine, which may not be available in VMware Data Recovery.

  4. 4. Support for Non-functioning VMFS Datastores: In case of a non-functional VMFS datastore, DiskInternals VMFS Recovery provides a means to recover data directly from the inaccessible datastore.

  5. 5. Flexibility in Recovery Options: The software offers multiple recovery options, enabling users to choose between automatic recovery modes and manual recovery. This flexibility allows for customization based on the specific data loss scenario.

  6. 6. User-Friendly Interface: DiskInternals VMFS Recovery typically offers an easy-to-use, intuitive interface, making it accessible to users without extensive technical expertise in VMware environments.

Installing DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

  1. 1. Download the Software: Start by downloading the DiskInternals VMFS Recovery software from the official DiskInternals website. Ensure that you are downloading the correct version compatible with your operating system.

  2. 2. Run the Installer: Once the download is complete, locate the installer file (usually a .exe file for Windows or a .dmg file for macOS) and double-click to run it. If prompted, grant the necessary permissions to the installer.

  3. 3. Welcome Screen: The installation process will begin with a welcome screen. Click on the "Next" or "Continue" button to proceed.

  4. 4. License Agreement: Read and accept the terms of the license agreement to proceed with the installation. Click on the "I accept the agreement" or a similar option to continue.

  5. 5. Choose Installation Location: The installer will ask you to select the destination folder where you want to install DiskInternals VMFS Recovery. The default location is usually recommended, but you can choose a different location if desired. Click on "Next" to continue.

  6. 6. Select Start Menu Folder (Windows Only): If you are installing the software on a Windows system, you may be asked to choose a Start Menu folder where the software shortcuts will be placed. You can keep the default or specify a different folder. Click on "Next" to proceed.

  7. 7. Create Desktop Shortcut (Windows Only): On Windows, you may be given the option to create a desktop shortcut for easy access to the software. Check the box if you want a desktop shortcut or leave it unchecked if you don't need one. Click "Next" to continue.

  8. 8. Ready to Install: Review the installation settings you have selected. If everything looks correct, click on the "Install" button to begin the installation process.

  9. 9. Installation Progress: The installer will now install DiskInternals VMFS Recovery on your computer. Wait for the installation to complete.

  10. 10. Finish: Once the installation is finished, you will see a confirmation message. Click on "Finish" to complete the installation.

Using DiskInternals VMFS Recovery

Here's a basic guide to get started with DiskInternals VMFS Recovery:

  1. 1. Launch the Software: After installing DiskInternals VMFS Recovery, launch the application on your computer. Depending on your operating system, you can find the program in the Start menu (Windows) or Applications folder (macOS).

  2. 2. Select the VMFS Volume: Once the program is launched, you should see a list of available drives and volumes on your computer. Choose the VMFS volume from which you want to recover data and click on it to select it.

  3. 3. Scan the VMFS Volume: After selecting the VMFS volume, initiate the scanning process by clicking on the "Scan" or "Start Scan" button. The software will begin scanning the selected volume for recoverable files and folders.

  4. 4. Preview and Select Files: Once the scanning is complete, DiskInternals VMFS Recovery will display a list of recoverable files and folders found on the VMFS volume. You can browse through the files and use the preview feature to see the content of specific files.

  5. 5. Recover Data: After previewing the files, select the files and folders you want to recover. Click on the "Recovery" or "Recover" button to initiate the data recovery process. Choose a safe location on a different drive or external storage to save the recovered files.

  6. 6. Wait for Recovery to Complete: The recovery process may take some time, depending on the size and number of files you are recovering. Once the recovery is complete, you will receive a notification.

  7. 7. Verify Recovered Data: After the recovery process is finished, navigate to the location where you saved the recovered files and verify that the data has been successfully restored.

Important Tips:

  • To increase the chances of successful data recovery, avoid writing new data to the VMFS volume from which you are recovering. Writing new data may overwrite the lost files and make recovery more difficult.
  • If the initial scan doesn't find the files you are looking for, you can try performing a deep scan (if the software supports it) for a more thorough search.


  • What is VMware data recovery?

    VMware Data Recovery was a backup and recovery solution offered by VMware for virtualized environments, specifically designed to protect data within VMware vSphere environments.

  • How did VMware Data Recovery work?

    VMware Data Recovery allowed administrators to create backups of virtual machines (VMs) at specific points in time, known as snapshots. These backups captured the entire state of the VM, including the operating system, applications, and data.

  • What were the key features of VMware Data Recovery?

    • Automated Backup and Restore: VMware Data Recovery provided scheduled automated backups and easy restoration of VMs from the snapshots created.
    • Deduplication and Compression: The solution optimized storage usage by identifying and removing redundant data within backup sets.
    • Integration with vCenter: VMware Data Recovery integrated with VMware vCenter Server for centralized backup management.
    • Incremental Backups: After an initial full backup, subsequent backups were typically incremental, capturing only the changes since the last backup.
    • File-Level Recovery: The software often supported the restoration of individual files or folders from VM backups.
  • Is VMware Data Recovery still available?

    As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, VMware had announced the End of Availability (EOA) for VMware Data Recovery. It meant that VMware had discontinued the product and would no longer offer it for sale or support it. Organizations were encouraged to explore alternative backup and recovery solutions.

  • What are the alternatives to VMware Data Recovery?

    Since VMware Data Recovery is no longer available, organizations can consider various third-party backup and recovery solutions that are compatible with VMware vSphere environments, like iskInternals VMFS Recovery.

  • How can I protect my virtual machines without VMware Data Recovery?

    To protect virtual machines without VMware Data Recovery, you can choose an alternative backup and recovery solution from a trusted vendor. Ensure that the selected solution is compatible with VMware vSphere and meets your organization's data protection needs.

  • What is the purpose of data recovery?

    Enterprise data recovery refers to the procedure of recovering data that has been lost, corrupted, unintentionally deleted, or made inaccessible from its original server, computer, mobile device, or storage device. This recovery may involve restoring the data to its original device or transferring it to a new device if the original one is no longer operational.

  • What is virtual machine recovery?

    Virtual machine recovery allows you to restore virtual machines operating on various operating systems. This approach reinstates the complete virtual machine along with its linked metadata and configured peripherals from any specified Unitrends recovery point. The appliance employs the backup or backup copy to recreate the virtual machine on the designated recovery target.

  • What is VMware data protection?

    vSphere Data Protection serves as a disk-based backup and restoration solution offered by VMware. It seamlessly integrates into vCenter Server. This solution took the place of VMware Data Recovery following the release of vSphere 5.1, which introduced VDP.

  • Is VMware a backup service?

    VMware® ESX Server and VMware Infrastructure offer a range of solutions, tailored to specific environments, for executing backup and restoration operations.

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