I put ESXi on an old server, but the hardware died. The hard drive is fine, and I'd like to get the VMs I made on that server moved over to a new server. The problem is, the old server used IDE drives and the new server only has SATA controllers. I have an IDE/USB adapter, but ESXi does not seem to support mounting of a USB storage devices.

Is there any way I can get access to the datastore on old hard drive? I have a Windows machine with VMware Workstation if that can be used in any way.

UPDATE: I created a VM on Workstation and installed ESXi. I then created a virtual hard drive a little bigger than the IDE hard drive. I hooked up the USB hard drive, booted up the VM, connected it to the guest, loaded a GParted Live CD ISO, and copied the drive with dd as suggested by josephkern. I tried GParted first, but it couldn't see the partitions. My first attempt failed because I created a SCSI virtual drive instead of an IDE virtual drive. ESXi saw the partition but gave an invalid path error when trying to browse it. After I created an IDE virtual drive, used dd, and booted back to ESXi, I added it as a Disk in vSphere Client and as was able to browse the datastore. Yay!

  • Is it a VMFS drive or raw disk mode? – kbyrd Jun 12 '09 at 16:34
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    An impressive use of VMs. Painful, but impressive. Glad I could help! – Joseph Kern Jun 13 '09 at 1:17

Buy a new drive then, using a linux boot disk, dd the old drive (from USB) to the new drive:

dd if=/dev/sd<olddrive> of=/dev/sd<newdrive>

Because VMFS, the ESXi filesytem, is proprietary, you will not be able to find any drivers, or mount the drive to copy your vmdk files. This may change, and you can use adapters, but your best bet is to transfer your old ESXi disk to a new one, bit for bit.

More on the dd command.

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  • +1. great idea! I had not thought of using dd. – kbyrd Jun 12 '09 at 17:19
  • I didn't have money for a new drive, so I created a virtual one. Updated my question with the recovery process based on your answer. Worked great. Thanks! – Joseph Jun 12 '09 at 22:43

If you're not in a rush and want to use the same hard drive, an IDE to SATA adapter might work for you.

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You don't list where abouts you are but you could buy an IDE-to-SATA adapter such as THIS

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