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Configuring vendor-supported tape drives and media changers on VMware ESX/ESXi 4.x/5.x (1016407)

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This article provides steps/instructions to configure vendor-supported tape drives and media changers so that virtual machines on ESX/ESXi 4.x and later hosts can access these devices. These instructions are provided with these caveats:
  • VMware does not provide support for backup tape drives and tape library devices or their functionality on ESXi/ESX hosts.
  • The functionality of the tape library and the backup software in conjunction with VMware ESXi/ESX is partner-supported.
  • VMware assumes that the third-party vendor has completed necessary validation to support this configuration in a production environment.
  • VMware does not maintain a hardware compatibility guide that includes tested tape devices.
  • Devices and configurations that worked on earlier releases of ESXi/ESX may not work with later ESXi releases.
If you encounter problems, open a support request with the third-party or partner vendor's support organization. VMware collaborates with other vendors through the Technical Support Alliance Network (TSANet) or a Cooperative Support Agreement (CSA). Third-party vendors that want to certify tape devices must do so through the Partner Verified and Supported Products (PVSP) program. This program provides a scalable opportunity for vendors to promote their promising technologies that cannot be certified through any of the existing VMware certification programs.


To configure a tape device with a virtual machine in ESXi/ESX 4.x and later:

  1. Consult your backup hardware and software vendor to ensure that your tape device and backup software are supported to work with VMware ESXi/ESX 4.x and later.
  2. Configure the tape device and controller according to the hardware vendor's guidelines.
  3. Connect the vSphere Client to vCenter Server or an ESXi/ESX host.
  4. Click the ESXi/ESX host to which the hardware is connected.
  5. Click Configuration > Storage Adapters.
  6. On the Storage Adapters list, identify the controller that has the tape attached.
  7. Under Details, record the Runtime Name of the tape device (for example, vmhba2:C0:T1:L0). For more information about the Runtime Name, see Identifying disks when working with VMware ESX (1014953).
  8. Select the virtual machine that use the tape device, and click Summary > Edit Settings.
  9. Click Hardware > Add.
  10. Select SCSI Device from the list of device types and click Next.
  11. Select the appropriate device from the SCSI Device dropdown menu.
  12. Select Virtual Device Node that matches the Target of the Runtime Name of the device, as recorded in step 7.

    The Virtual Device Nodes are denoted as <Bus>:<Target>.

    For example: The Runtime Name vmhba2:C0:T1:L0 corresponds with a Virtual Device Node of (1:1), (2:1), or (3:1) as the Target is 1(T1) .

    Warning: For clarification, (0:1) is also available for configuration. However, this bus is usually already populated by a virtual disk in a typical virtual machine setup. As tape operations by nature are quite disruptive for devices on the same bus, to avoid interruption, ensure that the tape devices' target IDs are on a separate bus from the other virtual machine disks attached to the virtual machine. For example, bus (0:x) can have several virtual machine disks, while bus (1:x) has the tape pass-through device(s).

  13. Install and configure the backup software according to the software vendor's guidelines.

Note: ESXi/ESX supports vendor-supported parallel SCSI tape drives and tape libraries only. If you are using a tape drive library (versus using a stand-alone tape drive), the library must be multi-target, and not multi-LUN. Ensure that the tape drive's virtual target ID in the virtual machine's configuration is set to be the same as the physical target ID.

Note: As per the vSphere 5.x Release Notes, VMware does not support Tape Drives connected directly to ESXi 5.x.

Additional Information

Requirements while configuring vendor-supported tape drives and media changers

  • The tape hardware must be connected to a VMWare-supported Adaptec SCSI controller.
  • The tape hardware must be SCSI ID addressed and cannot be LUN addressed.
  • The virtual and physical SCSI IDs must match each other.
  • Tape devices should not share a BUS with any other non-tape device and should be given their own dedicated SCSI controller.
  • The SCSI controller for the guest virtual machine should be configured as a LSI Logic SCSI card and not the BUS logic card.
  • BUS sharing must be disabled.


  • Fiber connected tape devices are not supported.
  • Tape devices cannot be connected to RAID controllers.



See Also

Update History

10/18/2011 - Added link to Release Notes of ESXi 5.0 as VMware does not support tape drives connected to ESXi 5.0 09/28/2011 - Added information on Partner Verified and Supported Products 12/28/2011 - Moved VMware support information to the beginning of the article, removed version from title and added vendor-supported and made minor updates to procedure steps 1/3/2012 - Updated title to say 4.x and later 09/27/2012 - Added ESXi 5.x to Products 12/13/2012 - Added limitations to additional info. 12/20/2012 - Update note to indicate no tape drive support for 5.x and later

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