Server Update and using VMware with a physical HDD

Note – This is mainly for my recollection and to make sure I don’t run into the same issues I did while trying to run a physical hard drive in a virtual environment. This isn’t a post for everyone, when talking about things of this nature Kim’s eyes usually gloss in the way that makes me believe she’s thinking about the beach someplace nice and can’t wait till I stop talking about tech stuff.



I recently updated my old Linux media and VPN server from Fedora 14 up to Fedora 19, and in doing so I did the one thing that you never do. I neglected to make a backup of all of my data.

Any time I do an update I almost always forget to backup one or two things and this time was no different except I was lazy and didn’t want to plug it back into the server to get such a small amount of data back. I forgot to make a backup of my database tables that I use every day including the ones for this Blog. (ohh no… all 4 posts were gone)

One thing I should point out is that I have two HDDs that I alternate using when installing any new server software. Every time I upgrade my server I use the hard drive that has been sitting around for 9 months to 2 years. Doing it this way I never overwrite the current software setup I have and if something happens to go wrong I can always plug the old HDD in and get up and running in just seconds. Also you never know what you forgot to move over until 3 months down the line when you need it again.

So… I had my new operating system that was setup and ready to go. Since everything seemed to be going fine I no longer needed to keep my server in the main floor and I could return it down to the basement with the cooler temperatures and out of the way. A few hours go by and when I realize that I had forgotten some very crucial MySQL tables that I need. Usually if I need something off of a HDD I plug it into my main desktop and just dig through, however windows had a problem mounting ext4 file systems as well as LVM (Logical volume manager)

I had this HDD sitting on my desk that had the info and I was lazy that day and didn’t want to take apart my server again just to boot the old HDD and get the data. Instead I decided to look into using virtual machines with a physical HDD. After some quick research I found that some people have been using Oracle Virtualbox for this and since this was my VM of choice I got very optometrist about not needing to install new software. However I found the usage of this product for physical hard drive setups to be overly complicated and not conducive for a quick setup. After some more research I finally decided to give VMware player a shot.

I had tried them years ago for a virtual environment and at that time found their software to be sluggish and of poor GUI design, and so finally pushed myself to try them again.

The result was an old Linux server HDD was plugged into my Windows 8.1 and running inside of a virtual environment using VMware


A quick image guide to show the process of setting it up for my reference later.


1. Run VMware

2. Create new VM

3. Install OS later (we have it already

4. Run the setup wiz

5. Go to settings

6. Remove current HDD, add a new HDD

7.Specify connection type for my setup i kept running into issues with SCSI and SATA

8. Physical disk

9. Using windows Disk Management determine what HDD number is the external and select it

10.Launch the Virtual Machine. You can now get your old data off of the HDD.

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