This Blog is a supplement to my website. Please also visit:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Unable to Browse VMware Datastores

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 ( 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.


  1. The best, I had absolutely same issue and when I removed NFS mount, I could browse the rest Datastores without any problems :)

    I have e-Trayz NAS with NFS, but now I use it only mounted in VM :/

    Best regards Leo.

  2. that is fine and dandy - but it doesnt explain why the NFS mounted share gets effed up.. on mine it is just a single folder within an NFS share - and I think it happened after I renamed the folder with vsphere client browser - the folder only has a vmdk in it, nothing else - but sure enought, that screwed it up... and vmware has no answer to any of this, sucky bastards - I am not using it for production vm's, just for backup copies of vmdk's - but they cant even do simple crap like that

  3. Hi David,
    Today I faced the exact same problem.
    I couldn't ever imagine, that one NFS mount (NetApp) could effect another.

    Best Regards.