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Restore: Export Image



This article describes the Export Image feature of the Datto SIRIS user interface.


  • Datto SIRIS
  • Datto ALTO


The Export Image function allows you to export a recovery point from your Datto appliance as a VHD, VHDX, VMDK, or VMDK-linked virtual hard disk.

The image export function is not intended to be a server imaging tool. It is meant to act as a tool to restore downed servers. This restore process is not a deployment tool.
If you are unsure whether you should create a VHD or VHDX Image Export, refer to this Microsoft article (external link) for OS compatibility.

Technical Notes

Image Export for ReFS is currently unsupported. Any ReFS volumes in the selected snapshot will be excluded from the restore. To perform a restore of an ReFS volume, use the Volume Restore feature.

Getting Started

1. Access the Image Export function from the Restore tab of the Datto appliance GUI, as shown in Figure 1.

2. Select the Export Image option and choose a recovery point.

3. Click Start Image Export.

Figure 1: Export Image (click to enlarge)

4. You will be prompted to specify a destination and format for your image.

Figure 2: Specify destination and format (click to enlarge)

5. Select the Destination for the export:

  • Network Share: lets you export an image via CIFS/Samba or NFS. All image files are always thin-provisioned on the Datto. However, if the tool used to copy the image files to local storage does not accommodate thin provisioning, they will be copied as thick-provisioned. Therefore, make the appropriate storage considerations when copying files to a virtual host or other destination.
  • USB (SIRIS only): lets you export an image to an attached USB drive. These are thick-provisioned and can expand to the maximum size of the attached disk.

6. Select the Export format. The Time Requirements listed below represent the amount of time your Datto appliance will need to create the export, not the amount of time it will take to transfer the export to your hypervisor. All times shown are estimates and can vary depending on system overhead and resource availability.

  • VMDK-linked: Raw disk image with VMDK pointer file.
    Files produced: A single-drive system results in 4 files; boot.datto, boot.vmdk, C.datto, and C.vmdk. A fifth file, configuration.vmx, will also be present if you are restoring an agentless VMware-based system. When restoring a virtual machine, you must attach boot.vmdk as the first drive in the boot order, and C.vmdk as the second drive.
    Time Requirement: Instantaneous
  • VMDK: Compacted complete VMDK image (supports resizing and other advanced VMFS features).
    Disk Space Required: VMDK image exports require approximately 200 MB of free disk space on the destination hypervisor.
    Files produced: A single drive system results in 1 file: C.vmdk. A second file, configuration.vmx, will also be present if you are restoring an agentless VMware-based system.
  • The boot volume will always be the first volume of the image export; when restoring a virtual machine, you must attach this as the first drive in the VM configuration.
    Time Requirement: Instantaneous
  • VHD: Converted raw to VHD.
    Files produced: A single drive system results in 2 files; boot.vhd and C.vhd.
    Time Requirement: Instantaneous
  • VHDx: Compacted complete VHDx image
    Files produced: A single drive system results in 1 file; C.vhdx.
  • Time Requirement: Instantaneous

7. Select the Boot Type you would like the image export's boot sector to reflect. The available options are Auto DetectUEFI, or BIOS. Datto only recommends using Auto Detect if the boot sector format of the production machine is not known.

See the Technical Considerations section of this article for additional information about these options.

8. When you are finished configuring your restore, click Export. If you chose Network Share as the Destination, proceed to the Exporting to a Network Share section of this article. If you selected USB, connect a USB drive capable of holding the exported image, and proceed to the Exporting to a USB Drive section.

You can return to the Export Image page at any time from the Restore tab in the device UI. 

Exporting to a Network Share

1. When exporting to a network share, your Datto appliance will create a shared folder on your network which matches the hostname or IP address associated with the restore. You can access the exported image via the CIFS/Samba path or the NFS path your Datto appliance displays once the export has been created and is available.

Figure 3: Image exported via a network share (click to enlarge)

2. When you finish with the restore, be sure to unmount and remove it to preserve network resources and allow regular backup and retention activity for the agent to continue on your Datto appliance.

Exporting to a USB Drive

1. If selecting Export to USB drive, you will see the prompts shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: USB Snapshot Copy (click to enlarge)

  • If you select Copy Images to Disk, the Datto appliance will copy the images in their raw size to the USB drive.
  • If you select Expand Image to Disk, the Datto appliance will copy a single image to the USB drive and expand it to the full size of the disk. The Datto device will resize the image to the minimum possible size during the copy process to optimize the transfer.

Technical Considerations

  • When restoring a virtual machine from VMDK-linked, you must attach boot.vmdk as the first drive in the boot order, and C.vmdk as the second drive. Adding drives in this order fixes virtualization failures for some MBR and BIOS-based agents, including NTFS bootstrap code corruption which may typically be ignored by production agents since Windows uses a 'system reserved' partition for booting by default.

  • If none of the protected host's volumes exceed 2TB, you can use either VHD or VHDx. VHD is a quick export process and takes up very little array space. A VHDx export is a total image conversion and will take longer to complete. It will require the full size of the selected backup to be free on the Datto device's array. This array space will be unavailable until the Datto device destroys the image export after the recovery is complete.
  • For volumes larger than 2TB, you must perform a VHDx image export, as VHD virtual disk files do not support volumes larger than 2TB. All image exports destined for Hyper-V must have the understanding of which generation template you are going to. Inside of the Image Export drop-downs, Please Specify VHDX w/ UEFI Boot for Generation 2 or VHD w/ BIOS boot for Generation 1.

Additional Resources

Restoring to Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer) using VHD / VHDx

Restoring to Hyper-V using VHD / VHDx

Restoring to VMware ESXi using VMDK

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