How to Recover Data of a Citrix Hypervisor XenServer Virtual Machine

Read this article to find out how to install and configure Citrix hypervisor or XenServer, how to create a virtual machine, how to take a snapshot, and how to restore the whole system back to its previous state, and how to recover data from a XenServer virtual machine.

How to Recover Data of a Citrix Hypervisor XenServer Virtual Machine

Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer) is a virtualization platform based on a special version of Linux and developed by the company called Citrix Systems. With this platform, you can run a number of virtual machines on a single physical server. This hypervisor lets you create virtual machines, take snapshots of their disks, and manage virtual machine workloads. Just like other virtualization products, it’s by no means perfect, and sometimes there may be failures or errors resulting in loss of data. If that’s the case, there’s a question to answer: how to recover the data?

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How to Recover Data of a Citrix Hypervisor XenServer Virtual Machine

How to Recover Data of a Citrix Hypervisor XenServer Virtual Machine

What you need to install Citrix hypervisor

For starters, let’s explore how to install this hypervisor. There are a few things to be checked before installing XenServer version 8.

It requires a 64-bit Intel VT or AMD-V processor based on x86 architecture.

If you plan to run Windows virtual machines, you need to enable hardware virtualization technologies – Intel VT or AMD-V in BIOS.

Booting Citrix Hypervisor XenServer

Also, you need to download an installation ISO image from the Citrix website before you can install the Xen hypervisor. To do it, go to the Citrix download page. From the drop-down menu, select Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer), and the choose the latest version, 8.2 LTSR. You need to register before you can download anything.

How to install Citrix hypervisor 8.2

Add the ISO image to your server with the remote management console such as IMM, iLO etc, or create a bootable USB drive.

Add the ISO image to your server with the remote management console

To begin the installation, start the server and boot from the USB drive. In the GRUB boot menu, choose Install.

Install Citrix Hypervisor

At the first stage, choose the keyboard layout to be used and click OK. At the next step, press F9 if you need to download a special device driver, or click OK to continue if you don’t need it. Accept the license agreement – Accept EULA.

Choose the keyboard layout

Then choose the disk where you want to install Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer). As I install it from a local disk, I choose “Local media” from the list of sources and click OK to continue.

Choose the disk for installation

When installing from CD/DVD, it is recommended to check the disk; otherwise, skip the check by clicking ОК. Set the password for the root account, type it again to confirm, and click OK.

Type the root password

At the next step, you need to configure network parameters, set the automatic or static IP address, add a subnet and gateway – and finally click OK.

Configuring network options

After that, set the host name and configure the DNS server – and click OK when you’re done. Select location – click OK, and city – click OK again.

Set the host name and configure the DNS server

To synchronize time, select NTP and click OK to continue. Finally, it’s time to hit the button “Install Citrix Hypervisor” to begin the installation. All the data on the disk will be removed.

Install Citrix Hypervisor

At the end of this process, you’ll be offered to install supplemental packs if necessary. If you don’t need them, click No to complete the installation. Now that it’s over, remove the installation media and press Enter to reboot.

Install supplemental packs

When the server has booted, you can connect to it from the client PC. To do it, enter the server’s IP address in the browser: you can find this address in the hypervisor window.

Hypervisor window

To manage the server, download and install XenCenter by following the link. Start the utility and add the server. Right-click on XenCenter and choose “Add.”

Download XenCenter

Type the server’s IP address, administrator’s name and password, and click “Add.” Then, right-click on the server and choose “Connect.” Now that you have connected to the server, you can create virtual machines, manage the host network and its storage and do many other things.

Connecting the server

How to connect a local repository

To install an operating system for the virtual machine, you will need an installation disk or ISO file. I’ll be using an ISO image. For this purpose, you need to create a repository where ISO images of operating systems will be stored.

To do that, connect to the server by SSH and create a local folder there by running this command:

mkdir -p /var/opt/xen/ISO_Storage

Create a local folder

After that, create a repository with the Store Manager (SR), using another command:

xe sr-create name-label=LocalISO type=iso device-config:location=/var/opt/xen/ISO_Storage device-config:legacy_mode=true content-type=iso

where name-label=LocalISO is the repository name

Create repository

When this command is performed, a new storage will appear in the GUI (graphical user interface) window. To upload images to the server, connect to it by sftp and copy the image to this folder:


Copy OS image files to the repository

To activate images, you should browse to LocalISO - Storage, and hit the “Rescan” button. After that, the image will appear on the list.

Activate images

Also, every item initialized in the local repository will be added to the boot list of the virtual machine. Now you can select an uploaded image and install it onto a new virtual machine.

How to create a virtual machine

To create a virtual machine in XenCenter, go to the tab New VM. Select an operating system you’d like to install and click Next.

Create a virtual machine

Give a name for this new virtual machine - Next. Select installation media, an ISO image from the repository you have created earlier - Next.

Select installation media - an ISO image

Select the server where you would like to create a virtual machine - click Next. Choose the number of processors and amount of memory to be allocated to this virtual machine - Next.

Choose the number of processors and amount of memory

After that, set the preferred storage size and click Next; if necessary, add one more network interface, click Next, and finally click “Create Now” to have the machine created.

Set the preferred storage size

The virtual machine will appear on this list. When it happens, the machine will start automatically, and the installation of the operating system will begin. When you’re through will all typical stages of installation, the virtual machine will be ready to use.

How to take a snapshot

The Xen hypervisor lets you take snapshots of your virtual machine.

To create and manage snapshots you need quiet a lot of free space (in fact, more than twice the size of your virtual machine). If it happened so that you created a virtual machine on a storage device with a smaller free space reserve than required, and then decided to take a snapshot, it will occupy all the free space available.

When you try to remove it, the snapshot will be gone, but you won’t get any free space back. A snapshot captures the state of a virtual machine at the specific date and time when the snapshot was taken. Such snapshots will help you recover accidentally removed files or system settings that existed at the time when the snapshot was taken.

To create a snapshot, select a virtual machine, go to the Snapshots tab and click “Take Snapshot.” Give the snapshot name, add a description if necessary, and click “Take Snapshot.”

Take Snapshot

The snapshot will appear on this list.

How to load a snapshot

To go back to a specific system snapshot, select it from this list and click “Revert To.”

Revert To

Check this box if you need a snapshot of the current state of your virtual machine, and click Yes. After that, the operating system will roll back to its previous state. You can find the specific snapshot you need by checking its date and time.

How to recover data from a virtual machine

If the virtual machine refuses to boot or displays an error that can’t be fixed; or if there is a server error - in any of these cases you can safely use Hetman Partition Recovery to bring your data back. It supports data recovery from virtual disks of various hypervisors including Citrix Xen.

The tool recovers data from any devices, regardless of the cause of data loss.

By default, Citrix XenServer uses LVM storage for storing its virtual machines. This storage method has quite a lot of advantages if compared with VHD files, but sometimes you need to use the file-based storage mode like in VMware ESX, and it may also create additional difficulties for the recovery process.

When the physical disk containing virtual machine files is connected to the computer, Hetman Partition Recovery will display all the virtual machine disks.

Displays all virtual machine disks

To see which virtual disks belong to a specific virtual machine, you should run some commands on the server to find the UUID (Universal Unique Identifier) of the virtual machine, the UUID of its disk, and the UUID SR (Universal Unique Identifier of the Storage Repository).

To do that, connect to the server by SSH and type the first command:

xe vm-list

xe vm-list

As a result, you’ve found the virtual machine UUID; now you can use this identifier to view the connected disks, with the help of this command:

xe vm-disk-list uuid=a9511ac4-4fef-8423-d525-251b8098c130

The last element is the virtual machine UUID.

Virtual disk UUID

As a result, you get the virtual disk UUID, which, in its turn, can be used to find the storage repository UUID.

xe sr-list name-label=Local\ storage

SR repository UUID

Now that we have the repository identifier, it’s easy to understand to which virtual machine specific disks belong, and you’ll be able to identify those disks in the data recovery utility.


Connect the server’s disks to a Windows computer, download, install and run the data recovery tool.

Hetman Partition Recovery will display all virtual machine disks in the Drive Manager. Choose the disk where the required files used to be stored, right-click on it and select Open. Select the scan type - “Fast scan.” If the “Fast scan” can’t find the required files, then go for “Full analysis.” Right-click on the disk - “Analyze again” - “Full analysis” - and specify the file system for this disk - then click Next.

Full analysis

Find the folder where the files were stored, select the files you want to restore, click “Recovery,” specify the disk and folder where you’d like to save the files, and click “Recovery” again. When the entire process is over, you will find the recovered files in the folder you have chosen.

Recover files

If the XenServer storage was based on a RAID system, you will need to use Hetman RAID Recovery. This program will automatically build the RAID with the available disks, and all you have to do is to run the scan, wait for the results and recover the information.

Hetman RAID Recovery supports the majority of most popular RAID types. To make your lives easier, our program features the option to search for files by their names. Also, you’ll be able to preview the file contents to make sure that this is the one you need.

Vladimir Artiukh

Author: , Technical Writer

Vladimir Artiukh is a technical writer for Hetman Software, as well as the voice and face of their English-speaking YouTube channel, Hetman Software: Data Recovery for Windows. He handles tutorials, how-tos, and detailed reviews on how the company’s tools work with all kinds of data storage devices.

Oleg Afonin

Editor: , Technical Writer

Oleg Afonin is an expert in mobile forensics, data recovery and computer systems. He often attends large data security conferences, and writes several blogs for such resources as, Elcomsoft and Habr. In addition to his online activities, Oleg’s articles are also published in professional magazines. Also, Oleg Afonin is the co-author of a well-known book, Mobile Forensics - Advanced Investigative Strategies.

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