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I know that you can install ESXi 4.0 on a thumbdrive, but I was wondering if you could plug in an external harddrive to give extra storage to one of your VMs? We run a fileserver inside of ESXi that needs a space upgrade, but we're thinking of migrating to a different fileserver solution and would rather stick to external media to ease the later transition.


Ideally I'd like the drive to show up to the VM directly and not have ESXi control it, so that I could move it to a different machine and still have all of the data appear the same.

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up vote -4 down vote accepted

You may find your answer on their website comunity.

Hope that helped.

Regards, David

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-1, not a useful or clear answer. I'd like to find the answer here on serverfault, but a link to that thread as a reference to where you found your answer. – Josh Aug 27 '11 at 0:57

THis is the answer buddy - YES:

USB can be used by Guest OS by editing the settings of a Virtual Machine and then choosing the "Hardware" TAB Once you are at the HARDWARE Tab you can click "ADD" and select a USB Controller.

Once you have added a USB Controller you then repeat the same process, except this tieme add a USB Device iunistead of a controller.

You will see any attached USB devices in a list to choose from.

Once added you then need to open the console of the Virtual Machine, and Mount it to the USB connector. (the little USB icon at the top of the Console Window).

Been a while since i last did this, however this should get you there.

As for using it as a Datastore for VMWARE only, Im currently looking into that now. , in my case its more useful to have USB storage for SNAPSHOTS etc.

And to the guy that said its better to get eSATA. It really depends on what you are using the USB disk for. If it is just backups or file storage... who cares? unless you are running things from this disk, performance is not relevant.

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Life saver :) This works without having to halt the guest or anything – tm1rbrt Jul 24 '12 at 13:08

Use ESXi 4.1.0 or later - it supports this feature.

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Do you have any documentation to cite? I need to simply backup some vm's and I want to get in-and-out quick. I was going to stop the vm's one by one, make a copy to my NFS datastore and then copy that to the external USB HDD (from the CentOS box where the exports reside.) However, I'd prefer to keep the NFS step out if possible. Thanks. – Bretticus Aug 17 '11 at 21:11
Nevermind, it's passthrough only. I did see an example of a guy who got it working as a datastore (FAT only) in 4.1 by disabling the USB arbitrator from startup. I will probably just try stopping the vm and copying the folder via SSH console. That depends on whether I can mount the external HDD. – Bretticus Aug 17 '11 at 21:55

ESXi does not support USB devices (either as a datastore, or as passthru to a guest OS). Even using the Alt+F1 unsupported trick, you cannot mount the USB device.

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If it's connected to the ESXi box then ESXi is going to control it, and will need to set it up as a datastore first. If you want something removable I'd recommend going with an eSATA device versus a USB device... should be fewer headaches and better performance.

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