Windows in recovery mode: No fixed disks to show

I have a bunch of Windows Server VMs running in a VMware vSphere HomeLab. After nearly about three months of uptime, FreeNAS decided for yet some unclear reasons to crash completely (probably a kernel panic). End of the story: Windows installation was completely broken. Not booting anymore. Apparently the crash ocurred during update installation (perfect timing!).

To get the VMs back running I needed to change a few things using the Windows recovery mode. However diskpart showed: “There are no fixed disks to show“. Wondering why? Me too! After a good hint from a friend I realized that I’m using VMware PVSCSI for my virtual disks. (Apparently I was so clever to let PXE take care about this when deploying new virtual machines, so I didn’t even think about it anymore.)

Solution is basically very easy, I’ve done it that way:

  1. Just to verify that no disks are existent before:
    X:\windows\system32>diskpart
    
    [...]
    
    DISKPART> list disk
    
    There are no fixed disks to show.
  2. Now head over to the vSphere client, right-click on the VM and click on Guest OS – Install VMware Tools and proceed by clicking on Mount (Make sure the VM does have a virtual CDROM drive)
  3. Time to get into Windows recovery, open the Command Line and type in following: (for Windows 8 and up)
    drvload "D:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\Drivers\pvscsi\Win8\amd64\pvscsi.inf"
  4. To verify that you’re now seeing your drives attached to the PVSCSI controller use:
    X:\windows\system32>diskpart
    
    [...]
    
    DISKPART> list disk
    
      Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
      --------  -------------  -------  -------  ---  ---
      Disk 0    Online           75 GB  1024 KB        *
      Disk 1    Online           90 GB  1024 KB        *
    
    DISKPART>
  5. If that works, simply unmount the VMwareTools ISO: Back to the vSphere client, and hit Guest OS – Unmount VMware Tools installer in the context menu
Author: Patrik Kernstock

May I introduce my self? I am Patrik Kernstock, 23 years old, perfectionist, born in Austria, living in Ireland, Cork. Me explained in short: Tech- and security enthusiast, series junky and gaming addicted. Basically my interests belong to many different things in the IT-world, but specially in Ubuntu/Debian, nginx, MariaDB, Docker and many software solutions by Microsoft, Veeam and VMware.

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Just saved my day trying to repair a bcd boot issue for a vmware 6.5 vm. Thank you !