There are many useful scripts that are bundled with the VMware vCLI, one such script, that is not very well known is the vifs utility which provides datastore file management. When you right click on a datastore and browse using the vSphere Client, you can create a new folder, download/upload, delete and move files.
Using the vCLI's vifs utility, you can perform the same set of operations via the command-line and behind the scenes it uses the vSphere API fileManager to perform these operations. You can also browse datastore by just having access to a web browser, just point it to the following address: https://[ESXI_HOSTNAME]/folder and you can access the datastores by clicking through the links.
To browse the datastore using vifs, you will need vCLI installed on either a Windows/Linux system or you may use VMware vMA.
To browse a specific datastore for an ESXi host, you will need to first list the available datastores by using the following command: vifs --server [SERVER] --username [USERNAME] --listds
Once you have identified the datastore you are interested in, you will then use the --dir flag to list the contents of the directory and their sub-directories by using the following command: vifs --server [SERVER] --username [USERNAME] --dir '[DATASTORENAME]'
Note: The format of the datastore name must be in brackets '[datastorename]' which is how a datastore path is identified in the vSphere API. To list sub-directories, you will need a space between the datastore name and the directory name and do not forget to quote the parameter
Let's say you would like to download the .vmx configuration file for in the directory, you can use --get flag to by using the following command:
vifs --server [SERVER] --username [USERNAME] --get '[DATASTORENAME] somedir/somefile.vmx'
Note: In the example above, we are downloading the file in the current working directory denoted by the "." (period). If you wish to download it somewhere else or even renaming the file, you will need to specify the full path to the destination
If you wanted to automate the downloading of say all .vmx configuration files, it might be pretty tedious to run through the directory discovery, so here is a quick shell script called getVMVMX.sh that is more user friendly that allows you to easily download all .vmx configurations for a given datastore.
To use the script, you will need vCLI installed on either a Linux system or use VMware vMA and be sure to set the executable permission on the shell script. You will need to specify the credentials to the ESX(i) host and the specific datastore you wish to either "list" or "download" all .vmx configuration files.
Using the --listds flag, you will need to identify the datastore you wish to use. Next you will use the following command to "list" all .vmx configuration file: ./getVMVMX.sh [ESXI_SERVER] [USERNAME] "[PASSWORD]" [DATASTORE] list
To download all .vmx configuration file you will use the following command:
./getVMVMX.sh [ESXI_SERVER] [USERNAME] "[PASSWORD]" [DATASTORE] download [FOLDER]
where FOLDER is a directory that will automatically be created for you to store all .vmx configuration files
Note: You can easily modify the script to add an additional "for loop" at the beginning to automatically download .vmx configurations for all datastores. I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.
So if you ever need to grab a vmware.log file for a specific VM or upload an ISO to datastore, you can do so from the command-line using the vifs utility that is bundled with the vCLI.