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Powering on a virtual machine on an upgraded host fails with the error: File [VMFS volume] VM-name/VM-name.vmdk was not found (2036572)

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Symptoms

After upgrading host to ESX/ESXi 4.1 Patch 8(Build  1050704), ESXi 5.0 Patch 5(build 1024429), ESXi 5.1, or ESXi 5.5, you experience these symptoms:

  • You are unable to power on some virtual machines
  • Powering on virtual machines fail with the error:

    File [VMFS volume] VM-name/VM-name.vmdk was not found.

  • When you view the details of this message, you see entries similar to:

    Error Stack:
    An error was received from the ESX host while powering on VM VM-name
    Cannot open the disk '/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/VM-name/VM-name.vmdk' or one of the snapshot disks it depends on.
    The system cannot find the file specified.
    VMware ESX cannot find the virtual disk '/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/VM-name/VM-name.vmdk'. Verify the path is valid and try again.

Cause

This issue occurs when the vmkernel multiextent module is no longer loaded by default in:
  • ESX and ESXi 4.1 Patch 8
  • ESXi 5.0 Patch 5
  • ESXi 5.1
  • ESXi 5.5

For more information, see:

Resolution

To perform a clone, copy, or migration operation on the virtual disks of hosted formats, load the vmkernel multiextent module into ESXi.
 
To load the vmkernel multiextent module:
  1. Open a console to the ESXi host. For more information, see Using Tech Support Mode in ESXi 4.1 and ESXi 5.x (1017910).
  2. Run this command to load the multiextent module:

    # vmkload_mod multiextent

  3. Check if any of your virtual machine disks are of a hosted type. Hosted disks end with the -s00x.vmdk extension.
  4. Convert virtual disks in hosted format to one of the VMFS formats.

    To convert virtual disks in hosted format to one of the VMFS formats:

    1. Clone source hosted disk to a new disk using one of these commands:

      For a thick vmdk disk:

      • # vmkfstools -i VM-name.vmdk <VM-name-new-disk>.vmdk -d zeroedthick
      • # vmkfstools -i VM-name.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/destination_datastore/vmfolder/<VM-name-new-disk>.vmdk -d zeroedthick


      For a thin vmdkdisk:

      • # vmkfstools -i VM-name.vmdk <VM-name-new-disk>.vmdk -d thin
      • # vmkfstools -i VM-name.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/destination_datastore/vmfolder/<VM-name-new-disk>.vmdk -d thin

    2. Delete the hosted disk after successful cloning using the command:

      # vmkfstools -U VM-name.vmdk

    3. Rename the cloned VMFS type new disk to the original disk name using the command:

      # vmkfstools -E VM-name-new-disk.vmdk VM-name.vmdk

  5. Run this command to unload the multiextent module:

    # vmkload_mod -u multiextent

For more information, see Cloning and converting virtual machine disks with vmkfstools (1028042).

For more information on managing modules, see Managing VMkernel Modules in the vSphere 5.1 Command Line Documentation and vSphere 5.5 Command-Line Documentation.

Additional Information

The disk files associated with the problematic virtual machine are not similar to the regular vmdk files and there are no flat files associated with the vmdk files. Instead, you see a list of other smaller vmdk files within the descriptor file. This type of disk is known as 2gbsparse. This format is compatible with hosted products, such as VMware Fusion, Player, Server, and Workstation.
 
Virtual machine disks are spanned across several 2GB extents to eliminate potential cross-platform file system compatibility issues.
This format is not supported for running virtual machines in VMware ESX or ESXi.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I know which modules are loaded?

To determine which modules are loaded, run this command:

# esxcfg-module -l

Is ESX/ESXi functionality impacted by not loading the VMkernel multiextent module?

No, functionality is not impacted by not loading the VMkernel multiextent module. However, the VMkernel multiextent module is used when virtual disks in the hosted format need to be imported.

For more information, see Clone or migration operations that involve non-VMFS virtual disks on ESXi fail with an error in the VMware vSphere 5.1 Release Notes.

See Also

Update History

05/01/2013 - Update the article to cover all affected ESX/ESXi versions(4.1 P08, 5.0 P05). 03/28/2013 - Adding note to the Details section to indicate this issue will be seen with ESXi 5.0 stream after patch 05 04/18/2013 - Added the command for thin vmdkdisk

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