We recently had a SAN failure that killed a very high-disk-activity VM while it was on. We fixed the failure, but can't boot the VM. When we attempt to, it displays this error message. I checked the datastore, and that file doesn't exist. However, the datastore for that VM has the same contents (with slightly different sizes) as it did before the crash, and all that are in it are snapshots, tiny (<5kb) .vmdk files, and one big -delta.vmdk file. There are no "flat" base images, and there is no vmdk file corresponding to the delta. Here is a picture of the datastore's content. It seems like every vmware forum/KB article I browse assumes that there are flat files or other VMDKs present in my file structure. How do I get this thing to boot if all I have left is a delta and some snapshots? (And no, there is no chance of a recovery from backup. The last screenshot displays literally all of the files I have to work with). Is there some way to rebuild a working (even if not current) VM image from the collection of files that I have?

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    Do you have support with VMware? If so, this is definitely a case where you want to avail yourself of it. If not, I believe you can purchase per incident support in 1, 3, and 5 packs. vmware.com/support/services/incident.html – joeqwerty Dec 21 '11 at 4:06
  • Similar issue is being discussed here, try my answer. – BBK Dec 28 '11 at 18:50
  • @joeqwerty, That's what we ended up doing. We shelled out $300 for VMWare to tell us "Yeah, you're up the creek. Rebuild the VM from scratch!" Apparently, since the vmdks were ones we had upgraded from a previous version of ESXi, they had an organization scheme that was not recoverable by any tools available to the VMWare techs. Ah well, you live, you learn. – Zac B Jan 12 '12 at 21:28
  • Sorry to hear that. – joeqwerty Jan 13 '12 at 0:21

Every 'regular' .vmdk file is actually just a descriptor file pointing to a -flat version that's hidden by the datastore browser, this mechanism is what allows things like virtual-mode disks/RDMs etc. to work correctly but I can see why it'd confuse you. If you use the console to look at the filesystem directly you'd have a better picture of what's there and what's not. That said I've seen your screenshot and it looks like you've been running with snapshots in place for a long time, several months, and while this will work isn't considered best practice and may well be one of the reasons you're struggling now, snapshots aren't backups and VMWare provide their VDR backup appliance free as part of some licence packs, consider using it or another backup system in the future ok, VM repair is famously tough.

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