Customers quite often request Virtual Machine images to be copied to USB disks that they have sent us. Licensing issues aside, we can do this by performing the following steps on ESX/ESXi 4.1:
SSH onto the ESX server:
Stop the usbarbitrator service:
Attach the USB disk to the ESX server.
If the drive has not been pre-formatted with EXT3 (they usually aren’t) as they come formatted with FAT32 or NTFS follow the steps in this link.
Once the USB disk has been formatted, mount it by running the following command:
mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt/usbdisk
The first parameter /dev/sdc1 is the disk and partition to be mounted and the second parameter is the mount point. This is where VM data should copied to.
Copy the Virtual Machine data to the USB disk by running the cp command:
cp -a /vmfs/voulmes/datastore1/* /mnt/usbdisk/
The above command copied everything from /vmfs/volumes/datastore1 to our USB disk which is mounted at /mnt/usbdisk.
Once the data has been copied ensure that the USB disk has been unmounted before detaching it:
Once the USB disk has been unmounted and detached, restart the usbarbitrator service:
And that’s it, job done!
You can reference this from VMware KB article 1036340.