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With ESXi, short of using the "hack" console, the only way I found to transfer files is with the VSphere client.

It appears we have several systems properly configured and running as VM's now. To back them up I shut down the VM's and did a copy of the data store folders containing the VM's to a shared folder on the network.

It's taking an extremely long time (132 gig so far and it's still copying them); is there a way to compare the two, the original and copy, to see if they're intact? Since it's ESXi I couldn't just tar+zip them and create an md5 checksum.

Also, if I were to plug a USB external drive to the ESXi server, would it automatically show up as another datastore, so I could copy directly from Datastore1 to DatastoreX more quickly?

Two questions related to transferring data...wondered if anyone else out there had some experience doing this...

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You can't access USB storage from within ESXi unfortunately so that's not a runner. What you can do is use Veeam FastSCP as an alternative to using either the VI Client or something like the VI-Toolkit which is really just using the same mechanism. External SAS enclosures are an option - you can hot add storage that way. You've already discovered the NAS option.

What sort of copy speed are you seeing? - If nothing else is interfering you should expect to be able to hit 50+Meg/sec over GigE, maybe even a lot more if the NAS target and your source datastores are fast enough. USB would top out at not much better than around 30-40Meg a second so in most cases you would expect GigE to a decent NAS to be faster.

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Part of the problem is that right now I'm using a virtualized Windows session (Virtualbox) to copy the data to an external hard disk on the host mapped as a shared drive to the virtual session, so that adds overhead. I thought I'd have time to do it since I was doing this over the weekend (I'm remotely accessing my workstation at the office over a VPN). –  Bart Silverstrim Jul 26 '09 at 15:49

You can also use ISCSI targets both on Windows (www.starwindsoftware.com) and Linux (IET or others) tho export disks over network and use them on your ESXi server.

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Have you considered running NFS on a machine and copying the VM to that datastore? There are several NFS servers for windows that should allow you to export a windows filesystem (including USB) to the ESXi system.

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