SIRIS, ALTO, and NAS: 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.

Do not use the image export function as a server imaging tool. It is meant to restore downed servers. This restore process is not a deployment tool.

Technical Notes

  • Image Export for ReFS is currently unsupported. Any ReFS volumes in the selected snapshot get excluded from the restoration. To perform a restore of a ReFS volume, use the Volume Restore feature.
  • Before restoring a Rescue  Agent, you'll need to first gracefully shut down the virtual machine from within the operating system. Then take a snapshot of it from the protect tab of the Datto device to use for your restoration. Failure to take this step will produce dirty images as rescue agent snapshots are non-quiescing.

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. 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.
NFS shares containing Image Exports are writable. Do not write production data to the share, as this could lead to data loss when you unmount the image export.
  • 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 finish 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 large enough to store 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.
  • You cannot export multiple images to the same USB device because the process formats the USB drive at the beginning of each export. If you want to save multiple Image Exports on the same USB device, you will need to save each export to a network share, then plug the USB device into a computer on the same network, and copy the images from the network share to the USB device.

Which VMWare file format should I choose?

  • Choose VMDK if you have at least 200 MB of free disk space on the destination hypervisor and if you would like to have the ability to expand the disk size of the virtualization's VMDK files in the future.
  • Choose VMDK-linked if storage space considerations on your hypervisor are a concern, or if you have to perform a USB transfer of the image export to the datastore on your hypervisor (see the Limitations section of this article for more information), and if you will not need to resize the virtualization's disks in the future.
Do not select VMDK-linked if you will need to expand the disk size of the system's VMDK files in the future. The VMDK created during the VMDK-linked export process is a fixed file which references .datto files generated by your Datto appliance. It is not capable of resizing to increase available storage space.

Which Hyper-V file format should I choose?

  • If none of the protected host's volumes exceed 2 TB, 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. VHDx 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 2 TB, you must perform a VHDx image export, as VHD virtual disk files do not support volumes larger than 2 TB. For Hyper-V exports, determine in advance which generation of VM your environment requires. Select VHDX with UEFI Boot for Generation 2 or VHD with BIOS boot for Generation 1. For more information on OS compatibility, refer to this Microsoft article.

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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