Mounting a VMFS Datastore Using ESXi Install CD

Recovering an ESXi install that won’t boot can be a frustrating and difficult process. What do you do if the usual options don’t work; repair option on the install cd or booting ESXi from a USB stick? As well, wouldn’t it be nice if you were in a rush and just needed to get information off the VMFS datastore rather than rebuild the whole host? Good news, there is a way to mount a datastore to gain access to the information.

  1. Boot from an install disk, press ALT+F1 to get the console.
  2. Login with using the user root (password will be blank)
  3. Run ls /vmfs/devices/disks/ to validate that ESXi can see the host disk
  4. Load the vmfs3 driver using the vmkload_mod command.
  5. Now run vmkfstools –V to mount your existing datastores
  6. Finally, use SSH or SCP to copy files from the datastore to another location.

Hopefully this will save you time if you have an ESXi go down and all you need is to access the data to a new host.

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