Agentless Restores for VMware

Agentless restores can be used to restore small files and folders into a virtual machine without installing an agent on the destination client. Using this option simplifies deployment and reduces the impact of backup and restore operations for virtual machines that do not have high transaction rates and large data requirements. This option is preferred in cases where the CommServe system or MediaAgent is not able to communicate with the VM (for example, in a restricted network).

You can use agentless file recovery when the total restore size is less than 10 GB and you are restoring fewer than 10,000 files. If you need to restore more than 10GB or 10,000 files, install a File System (FS) agent on the VM.

To improve the performance of restore operations, the software uses SMB protocol instead of VMware tools as the default restore method for Windows proxies and Windows destination VMs.


  • For Windows, the virtual machine must have the NTFS file system.

  • The destination machine must meet the following prerequisites:

    • To verify the version of VMware software that is required to support this feature, see System Requirements.

    • The virtual machine must be powered on.

    • The latest release of VMware Tools must be installed and running.

      You can use open-vm-tools on guest VMs running supported Linux releases; open-vm-tools must be installed and running.

  • The user account that is used to browse the destination VM must be a local user with write permissions for the VM.

  • To authenticate users for Linux VMs with PAM modules, see VMware agentless restores fail for Linux VMs with pluggable authentication modules.

  • If a passkey is configured for restores, you must have the passkey.


  • A proxy cannot make two or more simultaneous parallel connections to the same VM. The restore to the VM for the job that establishes the first connection succeeds, and subsequent jobs fail with a connection error because there is already an active connection between the proxy and the VM.

  • For Windows:

    • For Windows VMs, you cannot restore ACLs. If you choose Restore Both Data and ACLs, only VM data is restored, and the ACLs from the source VM are not restored. The Restore ACLs Only option is not supported.

    • You cannot use an agentless restore operation to recover reparse points (such as such as shared folders, mount points, or junction points) on Windows NTFS volumes.

  • For Linux:

    • For Linux VMs, if you choose Restore Both Data and ACLs, only basic user, group, and world permissions are restored. Additional file attributes such as ACLs and extended attributes are not restored. Timestamps are only restored when using agentless restores together with a File Recovery Enabler for Linux. The Restore ACLs Only option is not supported.

    • Permissions for guest files and folders are retained only when the user running the restore operation has permissions to change group ownership on the restored files and folders. If the user does not have change group ownership permissions, the restored files and folders are owned by the user who performed the restore.

    • You cannot restore an empty folder unless you restore the parent folder; when you restore a parent folder all other folders contained in the parent folder are also restored.

    • Hard link files can be restored; if source files are also restored any corresponding link files use the same index node (inode).


For SMB (Server Message Block Protocol), you can use the Restore Data Only and Restore both Data and ACLs options for agentless restores of files and folders into a virtual machine.

To test a user account's write permissions for the VM, see VMware KB article 2079098. The VSA proxy you use for this test must have VMware PowerCLI installed.