Clone ESXi USB flash drive to another internal or external boot device – SUCCESSFULLY!

In the home lab, the primary ESXi 6.0 host boots off a cheap 1GB USB flash drive. I think I bought a few of them as a bundle of 5 for $10-20 a while back to use as throwaway drives.

The reasons I want to clone this drive to another one:

  1. For safekeeping/backup in the event of corruption/loss of drive.
  2. Faster boot times. I have a spare SSD that I’d like to put to good use.

A quick Google search brought up several easy ways to clone the drive onto another. I tried two Windows-based utilities: WinImage and USB Image Tool. Neither worked. I would either get a non-bootable drive, or would receive this message:

Bank5: invalid configuration
Bank6: not a VMware Boot Bank
No hypervisor found.

 

I also tried Clonezilla, and it also failed to produce a bootable clone. At this point I had about given up hope, and assumed that my motherboard (the Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3) was acting up. Well, likely one of the Linux solutions would have worked, but I was feeling lazy that particular day.

Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a comment where the poster mentioned using EaseUS Disk Copy as the only option that had worked for him/her. I gave it a shot, and sure enough, it was able to clone my ESXi 6.0 USB flash drive both to a larger 4GB USB drive, and an internal 30GB SSD. ESXi allowed me to use the remaining space (approximately 28GB) as local storage. This worked out great, and allowed me to boot my iSCSI appliance locally, which in turn served up network storage to the rest of the VMs. (I’ll get into the details of the lab/setup in a different post, and also when it’s a bit more exciting.)

The utility does not perform the cloning process directly, but rather, is a utility that assists in the creation of a bootable medium to load its environment to perform the cloning process.

I chose the USB option and was warned that all data would be erased on the target drive. Afterwards, I booted off the newly created drive and a couple of minutes later I had WORKING cloned drive. I’ve become a big fan of EaseUS over the years, having saved me in several situations where other utilities failed. It also helps that they give away many of their utilities for free, personal use.

Download link: EaseUS Disk Copy Home

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