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Restore Datto backup to VMWare VSphere made easy

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Dale Shulmistra

Data Protection Specialist @ Invenio IT



Know how to restore Datto Backup to VMWare VSphere using image export

This article provides a step-by-step tutorial to restore Datto backup to VMWare VSphere using image export. We will walk you through the steps where you will export a backup as a VMDK, and move it back to a permanent storage location within the VMware vSphere environment. This method does not provide thin or sparse provisioning for the image file that is written to your VMWare storage.

Please note that using VMWare Converter is the preferred method of restoring a system to a VMware vSphere environment, and supports a thin provisioned transfer.  See here for that procedure: Using VMWare Converter


Before this procedure, you must follow steps in previous topic Export Image to make the VMDK export available on the network via NFS.

Warning: Do NOT use the “upload file/folder” button on the datastore browser to upload the vmdk and .datto image file to your VMware vSphere environment. This could prevent certain vSphere features from working on a virtual machine associated with these files. Instead, please use the process outlined in this article.

1. Starting vSphere

1) Launch the VMware vSphere Client to connect to the VMware ESXi Host or vCenter server, and log in.

Figure 1 – Client Login

2) Once logged in to the vSphere Client, with the host selected, click the Configuration tab.


Figure 2 – Selecting the Configuration tab in the vSphere Client

3) From the Configuration tab, select the Storage link listed under Hardware. Then, select the Add Storage button in the top right corner of the window.

Figure 3 – Locations of Storage Hardware and Add Storage Links

2. Add Storage Wizard

1) In the Add Storage wizard, select Network File System, and then click the Next button.


Figure 4 – Selecting Network File System

2) The Network File System window that then appears asks for the server and folder that you obtained from the steps in the Export Image article. Provide a datastore name, and click the Next button.


Figure 5 – Server, Folder, and Datastore Name Locations

3) Confirm that the path to the NFS share on the Datto device is accurate, and select Finish to complete the Add Storage wizard.

Figure 7 – Finish the Add Storage Wizard

3. Copying the VMDK to a permanent datastore

Note: The below method copies a VMDK with thick provisioning because of limitations to the VMWare GUI.  The VMDK can be copied with sparse or thin provisioning using ESXi command line:

vmkfstools -i /vmfs/volumes/YourDataStoreName/C.vmdk -d thin /vmfs/volumes/DestinationDataStoreName/C.vmdk

1) Right-click on the datastore you just created, and click Browse Datastore. You will use this as the “source datastore” in the next steps.

browse DataStore
Figure 8 – Browse Datastore

2) Repeat the previous step on the datastore you wish to use for the permanent location of the restored virtual machine. You will use this datastore as the “destination datastore” in the next steps.

browse DataStore2
Figure 9 – Selecting Browse Datastore

3) In the destination datastore, create a New Folder and name it accordingly.

browseDataStore Figure 10 – Creating New Folder In Destination Datastore Browser

4) From the source datastore, select the VMDK, and select copy.

DataStore Browser Copy VMDK
Figure 11 – Select VMDK File from the Source Data Store

5) Paste the VMDK into the destination datastore.

DataStore Browser Paste VMDK
Figure 12 – Paste VMDK from Source Data Store to Destination Data Store

6) A progress window comes up while the VMDK copies to the destination data store.

copy Time
Figure 13 – Copy Progress to Destination Data Store

Note: The disk image provided by the vmdk export is thick-provisioned. Using the method above to copy the vmdk from the temporary NFS datastore to the permanent storage location will result in a thick-provisioned vmdk in the permanent destination datastore. If you wish wish to copy the vmdk as thin-provisioned, this must be done from the vSphere CLI using vmkfstools.

Warning: Do NOT copy the .vmx file. The .vmx file should not be used to restore the system. Please follow the steps below to create a new virtual machine and attach the recovered .vmdk files to the new virtual machine.

4. Creating a New Virtual Machine

1) Right-click on the host at the top of the list of virtual machines, and select New Virtual Machine. Alternatively, press the key combination CTRL+N.

new VM Link
Figure 14 – New Virtual Machine… Wizard

2) Go through the wizard and configure the virtual machine appropriately.

3) When you get to the Select a Disk section, select Use an existing virtual disk.

Select a Disk
Figure 15 – Using an Existing Virtual Disk

4) Click Browse.

Attach VMDK5
Figure 16 – Browsing to the Path of the VMDK on the Data Store

5) Select the datastore where the VMDK is located, and click Open. Select the VMDK of the boot volume (this is typically C).

Browse DataStores
Figure 17 – Browsing a Data Store for VMDK

6) Once the VMDK has been mapped from the data store, click Next.

Select Existing Disk
Figure 18 – VMDK Selected

7) Click Next, and click Finish.

8) Attach more existing disks as necessary by editing the virtual machine settings.

9) Boot the virtual server.

Note: If the virtualization fails after the first attempt, try another storage controller for the virtualization. It also may be necessary to run HIR from the StorageCraft recovery environment in the event that the boot device is found inaccessible due to storage controller changes. Please contact support if this is the case.
Hopefully, you found this how-to article helpful and now you are able to restore Datto backup to VMWare VSphere using image export. If you need any further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our staff is made up of Datto-Certified technicians.
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