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I have a single hard drive that has ESXI on it and a 140GB datastore.

How can I using Windows or Live CD read the datastore and copy out the Virtual Machines that are located on it? I have a SATA > USB convertor and I can see a lot of partitions but I cant read the datastore. I presume since it is in a format my computer doesnt understand.

Initially I think the only way may be to stick it in a new machine, connect up with Sphere client and copy / download the VM's

Many Thanks

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You should try running the Open Source VMFS driver to see if that lets you do what you need.

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    Also see Mounting VMFS with Ubuntu - basically apt-get install vmfs-tools followed by fdisk to find the correct partition and then vmfs-fuse VOLUME MOUNTPOINT – cwd Sep 26 '14 at 12:59
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Windows does not know how to read VMFS file systems by default. Your best bet would be to try to install vmware's VCB framework.

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You could boot esxi from a flash drive and gain access to your datastores or you could use moa to achieve the same or maybe more, the guy there is very good.

If you can boot the esx on your hard disk and you just need to copy your vms then you could use VMexplorer or FastSCP, both are free, easy to use and fast enough.

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