ESXi VMFS Exploration

Scenario: Provided with E01 of disks from an ESXi server. You need to examine the files contained within a guest VM which was hosted on the ESXi server.

For this, I setup ESXi 7.0 as a guest in VMWare Workstation 15.

Downloaded Windows 1909 Upgrade ISO.

Ran through ESXi setup, provisioned a 40GB datastore as 'ISO'.

Uploaded Windows 1909 ISO file to ISO datastore.

Created Windows 10 guest virtual machine within ESXi.

Booted Windows 10 guest from ISO datastore and installed Windows 10.

Created 'mydocument.txt' on Windows 10 desktop (under 'Andrew' profile).

  1. Mount E01 with your preferred tool (can be with Arsenal Image Mounter or similar).

  2. Datastore will present as separate partition

  3. Acquire/export partition as E01/RAW

  4. Mount new image (from partition) as a physical disk.

  5. Create VMDK from PhysicalDisk

    VBoxManage.exe internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename "C:\vmfs\part8.vmdk" -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDriveX
  6. Attach new VMDK to Linux host

  7. Install VMFS6-tools and libguestfs-tools

    sudo apt-get install vmfs6-tools
    fdisk -l
    sudo mkdir /mnt/sdb && sudo mkdir /mnt/vmdk
  8. Mount partition

    sudo vmfs6-fuse /dev/sdb /mnt/sdb

9. Mount target VMDK (for guest Windows 10 VM) and explore

guestmount -a Windows 10-flat.vmdk -m /dev/sdb --ro /mnt/vmdk
(or specify partition)
guestmount -a Windows 10-flat.vmdk -m /dev/sdb --rw /mnt/vmdk

Last updated