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I have the following situation:

  1. I needed to test some stuff with VMWare VM's.
  2. My work desktop machine has a paltry 100GB hard drive which is already mostly full with other software (Office, Visual Studio, etc.)
  3. I convince my boss to get me an external 2TB USB hard drive.
  4. I create, configure, install and use VM's on the external hard drive without issue
  5. My company decides to roll encryption software on everyone's machines which add encryption to removable storage (like my external hard drive)
  6. While I can boot up my VM's with no issue, other operations - such as trying to revert to a snapshot result in a BSOD, which after I reboot I find the .vmx file has been destroyed/deleted.

OK, so clearly my former arrangement with VMWare will no longer work. However, the reason I was trying to do this from an external hard drive in the first place was because I don't have enough space on my desktop machine to work with VM's on any serious basis (and our internal IT staff states that our machines cannot facilitate an additional internal hard drive)

So I'm wondering if there's any way to run VM's from the now-encrypted external hard drive and keep as many of the big files as possible on the external drive. I'm not above hand-editing .vmx files or whatever I need, I just need to keep the bulk of the data on the external disk (preferably with the snapshot file structure intact).

Also for what it's worth I'm not 100% sure what the gig is with the encryption. It's GuardianEdge but I'm not sure if it's that the hard drive contents are encrypted, or if the communication with the hard drive is encrypted or what. The documentation makes it seem as if files placed on the external media are encrypted as they go, but this hard drive already had a ton of stuff on it, so I don't know.

To be clear I'm not trying to circumvent encryption or anything, I'm just wanting to be able to use and deal with VM's in a situation where my only internal hard drive is too small for the task, and the bulk of the files will be on an external drive, which is the arrangement I had that worked prior to this new encryption software.

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2 Answers

You can create the VM on the local harddrive, but specify in the VMX file that the VMDK will exist at a different path.

for example:

scsi0:0.fileName = "EncryptedDriverletter:\Encrypted\Drive\10G.vmdk"
ide1:0.fileName = "LocalDriveLetter:\ISO\cdrom.iso"

note that this works well for backing up, as all the systems are contained on a single hardware unit.

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This should work, but the encryption is breaking it. Boots fine but when I try to take a snapshot I get "Generic Error" (literally, that's what the message says) –  Schnapple Oct 7 '10 at 21:43
Sad to say, but you might actually find better support for your specific scenario over at the very active and helpful VMware community boards. communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/desktop/… –  Greg Buehler Oct 8 '10 at 13:11
Will do. Thanks. –  Schnapple Oct 8 '10 at 16:08
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Oh, wow, trying to search "GuardianEdge" on google didn't dive me a home website to their software... Well i am almost 100% sure it has to be encrypting the contents as encrypting the communications would require the removable hardware to be familiar with the encryption.

It should be decrypting the files as the computer uses them as long as the drive is always in that computer, another computer without GuardianEdge wouldn't see the files.

I'm not sure what kind of problems you'd come across if they just hammered in an encrypted file system right on top of your original files, so if you're missing files, i think that's why. I don't know of a fix for this as i don't know where the files went, if it works without reverting to a snapshot, use this as your golden moment and back it up as is in case of another file outage...

Something that will be extremely useful if you're going to have problems with drives and drive letters is to makes a liked directory to a folder on the external hard drive.

Your computer needs the NT file system (NTFS) and if you have Window XP or anything higher, it should. You can open the command prompt and type: mklink /J "C:\Users\Username\Documents\Virtual Machines" "X:\My Work Files\VMWare". This command will make a folder (looks like a shortcut, but it is not a shortcut) inside of "C:\Users\Username\Documents" called "Virtual Machines" (Virtual Machines is VMWare's default directory for the user's virtual machines) and it will hold the files of "X:\My Work Files\VMWare", which would be your encrypted folder on your encrypted hard drive, every program will see it as a standard folder that holds files, and when a program like VMWare goes to access the files, it reads the successfully, just off the external hard drive, but it still thinks it's going after files in your documents, there shouldn't be problems with any programs when using this.

So when your drive letters change, or you have to move your virtual machines, delete the linked directory (not the one with your stuff, the 'shortcut' directory) in your documents and make a new one to the new location of the virtual machines. VMWare will see the same files in the same place inside of your documents folder, but the real files will be in a different place.

So, i hope mklink helps at all.

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