Configuring tape drives and media changers on ESX 3.x
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Configuring tape drives and media changers on ESX 3.x


Article ID: 337683


Updated On:


VMware vSphere ESXi


This article provides instructions for configuring tape drives and media changers so that the virtual machines on ESX 3.x hosts can access the devices.

Note: Fibre channel attached tape drives are not supported in ESX. For more information, see the SAN System Design and Deployment Guide and Understanding support for tape devices with ESX/ESXi (2007904).


VMware ESX Server 3.5.x
VMware ESX Server 3.0.x


To connect a tape drive to an ESX host, making it available to the service console:

  1. Make sure the tape drive is connected to an Adaptec SCSI card, not a RAID controller. For a list of supported Adaptec cards, search the Hardware Compatibility Guide.

    Note: VMware recommends that you d edicate the SCSI card to the tape drive.

  2. Check that the service console sees the tape drive with the command:

    # cat /proc/scsi/scsi

    The output of the command looks similar to:

    Host: scsi1 Channel: 00 Id: 03 Lun: 00
    Vendor: IBM Model: ULTRIUM-TD2 Rev: 36M3

    • If the tape device does not show up, perform a rescan of the Adaptec Host Bus Adapter (HBA) using esxcfg-rescan. For more information, see Performing a rescan of the storage (1003988).
    • If the ESX host console operating system sees the tape device, install the ESX 3.x host specific backup software agent that has support for your tape device. If no ESX 3.x host specific backup agent is provided by your backup software vendor, install the backup agent your vendor supplies for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 Update 6. Test this agent on an ESX 3.x host test bed before installing it on your ESX 3.x host production system.

  3. Use either the management interface or VirtualCenter to map a SCSI target from the controller to your virtual machine.
  4. Determine the path that the tape drive was given by the VMkernel with the command:

    # cat /proc/vmware/scsi/vmhba1/3:0

    The output of the command looks similar to:

    Vendor: IBM Model: ULTRIUM-TD2 Rev: 36M3
    Type: Sequential-Access ANSI SCSI revision: 04
    Id: 31 31 31 30 30 31 32 34 31 30 55 4c 54 52 49 55
    Size: 0 Mbytes
    Queue Depth: 2

    Note: In ESX 3.5.x, use esxcfg-mpath -l to determine the device notation.

  5. Using a unique SCSI target ID that is different from the local boot device, a dd a SCSI generic device. Use the management interface to assign the address vmhba1:3:0:0.

    The tape drive lines in the .vmx file looks similar to:

    scsi1:3.present = "TRUE"
    scsi1:3.deviceType = "scsi-passthru" = "vmhba1:3:0:0"

    • You cannot dedicate the entire SCSI controller to a virtual machine. You must manage it one SCSI ID at a time. If you are using a robotic tape library, you need to assign one SCSI ID for each tape drive and one SCSI ID for the robotic changer.
    • Tape drives are currently only supported using Adaptec SCSI cards with the LSI Logic virtual SCSI controller. Ensure that you use the LSI Logic virtual SCSI controller.

  6. Using the management interface, add the hardware to the Virtual Machine:

    1. To add the tape drive (which is the first device), click Hardware > Add Device > Generic SCSI Device.
    2. To add the media changer, click Add device > Generic SCSI device. Under Device Connection, select Manually and specify a device.

To make a tape drive available to a virtual machine, confirm that the SCSI controller is dedicated to the virtual machine:

  1. Log on to the management interface as root or as an administrative user.
  2. Right-click on the virtual machine, click Edit Settings and click the Hardware tab.
  3. Ensure that in the SCSI Controller section, Bus Sharing is set to none.
  4. If the SCSI controller is shared, you must change the setting. To change the setting:

    1. Click the SCSI Controller link.
    2. Choose none from the Bus Sharing menu.

Additional Information

The functionality of the tape library and the backup software in conjunction with VMware ESX 3.x is partner-supported. VMware assumes that the third-party vendor has done the necessary validation to support this configuration in a production environment. In the event that a problem is found, customers are advised to open support requests directly with the third-party vendor's support organization. VMware collaborates with the third party via the Technical Support Alliance Network (TSANet) or a Cooperative Support Agreement (CSA).

For more information regarding third-party vendor support, see VMware's Third Party Hardware and Software Support Policy.

Additional Information

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