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Migrating an ESX 3.x virtual machine with snapshots in powered-off or suspended state to another datastore might cause data loss and make the virtual machine unusable (1020709)

Details

This knowledge base article discusses the following issues:
  1. Potential data loss when using VirtualCenter 2.5.x, vCenter Server 4.0, or vCenter Server 4.0 Update 1.
  2. Warning messages you might receive when using VMware vCenter Server 4.0 Update 2 or later and the steps to take in such cases.

VirtualCenter 2.5.x, vCenter Server 4.0, and vCenter Server 4.0 Update 1

This issue might occur if you use VirtualCenter 2.5.x, vCenter Server 4.0, or vCenter Server 4.0 Update 1 to manage a VMware ESX 3.x host. If you migrate an ESX 3.x virtual machine with snapshots to another datastore while the virtual machine is powered off or suspended, data loss might occur and the virtual machine might become unusable, although the migration appears to succeed.

If this problem occurs, you see an error message that states, File <unspecified filename> was not found when you attempt to power on the virtual machine from the currently active snapshot or from any other snapshot after the migration.

This problem might occur because after certain patterns of snapshot creation and deletion, vCenter Server does not have enough information about all the virtual disks belonging to a virtual machine on an ESX 3.x host. In such circumstances, some virtual disk files are not copied to the target datastore before they are deleted from the source datastore. You cannot recover the virtual disk files after they are deleted from the source datastore.

vCenter Server 4.0 Update 2 or Later

For vCenter Server 4.0 Update 2 or later, virtual disks that are not copied over to the target datastore are not deleted from the source datastore. Therefore, if necessary, these files can be recovered manually from the source datastore. You might see the following warning message in vSphere Client, which is an indication that you must manually recover files from the source datastore.

This virtual machine has snapshots enabled. Under certain conditions, some virtual disk files might not copy automatically to the target datastore. You will be unable to power on this virtual machine until the remaining virtual disk files are copied manually from the source datastore. To learn more, search the VMware Knowledge Base for "migrating 3.x snapshots."

Solution

If you use vCenter Server 4.0 or later, consider upgrading the source ESX host from ESX 3.5 to ESX 4.0 before migrating virtual machines with snapshots from one datastore to another.

VirtualCenter 2.5.x, vCenter 4.0, and Virtual Center Server 4.0 Update 1

Perform one of the following to work around this issue:
  • Delete all snapshots before migrating a virtual machine running on an ESX 3.x host from one datastore to another.
  • Instead of attempting to migrate the virtual machine, clone the virtual machine to another datastore. A clone captures the currently selected state of the virtual machine in a new virtual machine and does not preserve any snapshots that might have been associated with the original virtual machine.

vCenter Server 4.0 Update 2 or Later

If you receive either of the following messages on the target virtual machine, then you must manually copy the virtual disk files that were not copied automatically during migration:
  • This warning message might appear during migration: This virtual machine has snapshots enabled. Under certain conditions, some virtual disk files might not copy automatically to the target datastore. You will be unable to power on this virtual machine until the remaining virtual disk files are copied manually from the source datastore. To learn more, search the VMware Knowledge Base for "migrating 3.x snapshots."
  • This error message appears while powering on the target virtual machine: File <unspecified filename> was not found
    See Exception for
    more information.

To Copy the Remaining Virtual Disk Files

    • Copy the remaining disk files from the source virtual machine folder on the source datastore to the destination datastore inside the target virtual machine folder.

      Exception: If your target ESX host is ESX 4.0 Update 1 or ESX 4.0 Update 2 and your source datastore is a shared datastore between ESX 3.5 and ESX 4.0 Update 1 or ESX 4.0 Update 2, powering on the target virtual machine might succeed. Regardless of if powering on the virtual machine succeeds or fails in this scenario, some virtual disk files are left behind on the source datastore and copying them is not sufficient. You must perform the additional steps that follow.

To Recover Source Virtual Disk Files

      1. Using a text editor, such as vi, open the descriptor file
        For example: vi test1-000001.vmdk
      2. If the parentFileNameHint property in the descriptor file is set to an absolute path, such as parentFileNameHint="/vmfs/volumes/49e399fd-a0447588-ee56-0019b9ed2060/test1/test1.vmdk", change it to a relative path, such as parentFileNameHint="test1.vmdk".
      3. Save the descriptor file.

Repeat these steps for all descriptor files in the target virtual machine's folder.

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