How to export VM data with a purple screening host?

Got a singular ESXi 6.5 host running 2 VMs that has started purple screening and our mail priority is getting the VMs off, either to wipe the host or migrate them to a new one. On a fresh boot up, I can get into the web interface and start the export process. It downloads the OVA and VMDK files, but purple screens about 5 minutes later, before it completes. Smallest VM is about 3.3GB (it’s a Linux appliance for a software product, provisioned for 40GB) and the other is 15GB. Any suggestions on other ways to export the VMs?

So far, I’ve tried to diagnose the issue with MemTest86 (success after one pass) and resetting the BIOS to default settings (virtualization still enabled). I’ve tried live booting ActiveDisk (WinPE), but it doesn’t support mounting VMFS. Live Ubuntu crashes on loading the live OS, making me think it’s the same cause as what’s crashing ESXi. I was going to copy to an external hard drive.

Server is a DL380 G7. It’s been running fine for months up until now.

Does the export process compress the VMDK? Because the small one might be completing according to my web browser, but it’s off by 1GB.

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  1. Is ESXi running on the same disk that the vm’s are installed on? or are you running esxi from a USB drive? as if it is just running off a usb you could just install ESXi on a new usb boot t that and see if you can access the datastore from the new ESXi install.

    I know this is a bit after the horse has bolted but you should make sure you have backups and regularly test them.

  2. You should be able to reinstall esxi without wiping the datastore. Even if esxi was running on your datastore that houses your VMS. I think the installer has an option to just reinstall application. Then you can browse the datastore and add the vms to inventory.

    I’d call vmware to double check that though.

    After you recover, put a backup system in place like veeam. STD is cheap if licensed by the socket. $700/socket I think.

    Also… Probably take this opportunity to separate your datastore and OS disk. Put your OS on a flash drive if you have to.

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