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ESX 3.x/4.x configuration backup and restore procedure (1000761)


This article describes how to restore an ESX 3.x/4.x host to a previous configuration in the event of a failure or re-installation. For ESXi 4.x / 5.x, see Backing up and restoring ESXi configuration using the vSphere Command-Line Interface and vSphere PowerCLI (2042141).
Warning: This procedure is an unsupported workaround. This may lead to data loss or corruption if done incorrectly.


Backing up Procedure
Create backups of these items:

  • The /etc/passwd file
  • The /etc/shadow file
  • The contents of /home directory
  • The contents of /root directory
  • The contents of the /etc/vmware directory, excluding:
    •  Any soft links
    • /etc/vmware/patchdb
    • /etc/vmware/ssl

Restoring Procedure

To restore configuration:

  1. Reinstall ESX to the same patch level as the failed one.
  2. Get the information on the currently configured core dump partition and copy and paste the output into a text editor:

    esxcfg-dumppart –l

  3. Get the information on the currently configured cos core file and copy and paste the output into a text editor:

    cat /etc/vmware/esx.conf |grep CosCorefile

  4. Restore /etc/vmware from a previous backup.
  5. Update the new configuration file with core dump partition information:

    esxcfg-dumppart –s vmhbaX:X:X:X

    Where  vmhbaX:X:X:X is the dump partition name noted from step 2.

  6. Edit /etc/vmware/esx.conf and update the CosCorefile information to match the path copied in step 3.
  7. Get the new UUID for the root partition:

    cat /boot/grub/menu.lst |grep UUID

    This generates at least 3 lines with root=UUID=xxxxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxx where x is a hexadecimal number.

  8. Update the configuration with new root device UUID by executing following command

    esxcfg-boot –d “UUID=xxxxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxx"

  9. Reboot the ESX host. The ESX host reboots with the old profile.

Additional Information

For translated versions of this article, see:


ESX recovery, ESX DR Procedure, ESX Backup, Configuration Backup

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