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Attaching external USB Drive to (free) VMware VSphere ESXi 6.7


Configuration:
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 (Free)
Virtual Machine configured with Windows Server 2016
External USB Drive (Passport 500GB)

Objective:
Attach the external USB Drive, so I can copy over files to the Virtual Machine
Note: I’m not sure why this appears complicated to accomplish.

Lessons Learned
-Not sure why this is so difficult, but I’m not seeing this feature as a strength within VMware. I’ve decided to hold off on this method of attaching data.
-Because I’ll be using the replication method (inherit identities) to add a new IBM Domino Server, I’m just going to use LogMeIn to copy over needed files from current server to new server.
-If I figure this out later, I’ll update this document

Observations within ESXi Host:
-Inside ESXi Host
-Right click on Virtual Machine and select Edit Settings
USB Controller 1 is greyed out with USB 2.0
Click on “Add other Device” shows “USB Device” greyed out
Note: I can select USB Controller, but gives warning that you cannot have more than one USB device – I knew that

Observations within VM of Windows Server 2016:
-Not seeing any attached USB drive

Troubleshooting steps
-Issue is that, even after removing the USB Controller and adding a USB Controller with USB 3.0, I cannot then go back and add the device and select the USB drive.
-Note: I found that you don’t think about the USB Device within the USB Controller, but actually create a passthrough thru the Host Controller.
-XREF to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcWIkOG3rKY
-XREF this with same PCI as me – https://www.reddit.com/r/vmware/comments/4qae5c/host_usb_passthrough_and_vm_boot/

-In my case, I have a Dell R610 bare-metal server, that the ESXi is installed on
-Within VMware ESXi; Host, Manage, Hardware, PCI Devices and Search for USB
-It comes back with Intel Corporation C610/X99 series chipset USB Enhanced Host Controller #1
and the same ending in #2
-Right now, both are Disabled in the Passthrough column, so I checked both and clicked on Toggle Passthrough
-Comes back with successful enabled, and need to reboot the host to complete configuration.
Note: The YouTube video mentioned to not disable what I just enabled, as it may cause issues
-Now I have to shutdown and power down all my VM’s and restart the Host.
-Placed host in maintenance mode — this is a best practice
-Reboot host

-Host, Actions, Exit maintenance mode
-Power up a VM
-Edit settings
-Noticed I had USB Controller 1 set to USB 3.0 (from prior troubleshooting)
-Deleted this and added USB Controller 1 set to USB 2.0; saved
-Edit Settings
-Add other device
-New PCI device (scrolled to bottom)
-Choice of the two controllers I had added to passthrough
-Chose Controller #1
Note: Error: “Failed to reconfigure virtual machine. PCI passthrough devices cannot be added when Nested Hardware-Assisted Virtualization is enabled”

Note: Went back in again and expanded New PCI Device. This time, chose #1, and also clicked on “Reserve all memory”; same error re: Nested Hardware-Assisted Virtualization
Note: This is odd, because VMware says it doesn’t support Nested Hardware-assisted virtualization in production environments, so not sure why it’s enabled. Something about VMware wanting us to have access to everything in the beginning – https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2009916

-Note: Found this on how to enabled/disable the Nested feature – https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-51/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vsphere.vm_admin.doc%2FGUID-2A98801C-68E8-47AF-99ED-00C63E4857F6.html
-I see within CPU, Hardware virtualization, “Expose hardware assisted virtualization to the guest OS. I cannot uncheck it. I also checked against VM’s that are not powered up yet.

Rebuilding Test server without hardware virtualization:
-Created a new VM, and did not check next to “Enable Windows VBS”
-Within Edit settings, I have USB Controller 1 USB 3.0. Issue is that within “Add other device” it still has “USB Device” grayed out. The video shows that this is clickable, but not for me. I had selected USB 3.0 based on the video
-Within “Add new device”, I clicked on PCI Device and Chose Controller #1. This time I got a “Successfully reconfigured”, and went back to add Controller #2. I also clicked on the “Reserve all memory” – no difference.
-Restarted server – no difference. Not seeing the attached drive.
-Within Windows Server 2016, Control Panel, I am seeing (under unspecified) USB Root Hub (xHCI). Not sure if that means it’s just seeing the PCI selection I made, or if it’s actually sensing hardware.
-Appears all the drivers within Device Manager (for USB) are up-to-date, but maybe there’s a driver missing?
-Went back into VMware Edit settings and changed from USB 3.0 to 2.0. “USB Device” is still grayed out.
-What’s interesting, back in Windows Control panel, is that the USB Root hub is no longer within unspecified, but I’m not seeing it anywhere else. Also, not seeing the attached drive.
-I had the local tech switch the port that the external USB drive is connected to – no difference.

Appreciate any thoughts, including redirecting my troubleshooting path.
Paul

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