Arg! I can't browse my VMware vSphere Datastores.
It didn't start out that way, but let me tell you a story of how I started with one problem, only to discover another, and another, and then ultimately the fix for all of them.
I was setting up backup jobs using Trilead's VM Explorer (http://www.trilead.com/) and it kept getting stuck on a message "downloading VMX file". When doing this from a working vSphere 5 server, this step takes half-a-second, but in my case I tried several VMs all on the same vSphere box and at one point let it set there for over an hour.
Occasionally when I tried I would eventually get a 503 http service unavailable error message. I Googled both messages and found all sorts of suggestions for these problems and I tried most of them to no avail. I should add I was seeing people describing this issue with various other backup products as well, like Veeam Backup, and Quest vRanger.
Then I tried using VM Explorer's File Explorer and I was able to browse the datastore and manually copy the VMX file, so I knew it wasn't locked. I could also browse the contents of my datastores using an SSH/Putty connection.
But when I tried to browse the datastore using the vSphere Client, no matter which datastore I selected I got the "Searching Datastore...." and it would never display files or folders. I Googled some more and found this too is a common issue with no concrete resolutions. I also tried using the web browser to browse the datastores by going to the vSphere's IP address, but that lead to a spinning hour glass.
I tried rebooting the vSphere server several times and that didn't fix these issues. I also tried powering down all of the VMs and placed it in Maintenance Mode, but again no luck.
Several weeks ago we setup a Buffalo Terastation NAS device and configured it to use the NFS protocol. I had it mounted as a datastore as well. The performance of this solution was awful and we are in the process of abandoning it.
As I sat there staring at the screen wondering what else to try and wondering if I was going to have to move these Virtual Machines to another server and completely re-install the vSphere software, I decided to remove the unused NFS datastore volume since I wasn't using it anyway. Low and behold, after removing it I could suddenly browse both of the other datastores as quick as you please.
And my original issue with Trilead's software, the "downloading VMX file" problem also disappeared.
I would have never guessed that issues with one datastore volume would prevent you from accessing other datastores.
I hope this helps some other poor soul.