Users may want to restore a version of a single file that was backed up using Data Recovery. Perhaps the file has been deleted or information from a previous version is required. In such a case, users can restore an entire previous version of the virtual machine that contained the file, but this may be cumbersome. Rolling back to previous versions may overwrite the existing virtual machine and even if the restored virtual machine is restored to an alternate location, the process may not be as fast as desired.

File Level Restore (FLR) addresses these issues by providing a way to access individual files within restore points for virtual machines. This access makes it possible to read copies of files or restore them from within restore points to any other available location. For example, FLR makes it possible to create two copies of a file so the versions could be compared, or FLR could overwrite an existing file with an older version contained in the restore point, effectively reverting to a previous version.

Using FLR to access files in restore points only provides a way to read their contents. Do not attempt to use FLR to modify the contents of a restore point. While FLR does not modify the contents of any restore points, some applications may make it appear that changes are occurring. For example, dragging and dropping a file from a restore point to another location may result in the file being removed from the list. Similarly, it is possible to open the files contained in restore points, make changes, and save and close those files. This does not change the information stored in the restore point in the deduplication store. As a result, when users exit FLR, any changes that appeared to be made to files in a restore point are lost. To save such changes, either create and edit local copies outside of the restore point, or edit the contents of the restore point by starting the virtual machine and modifying the files in the virtual machine.

If the backup appliance is completing other tasks such as running backup or restore jobs, FLR may be delayed in establishing a connection. All restore points are displayed, but FLR can only mount restore points for compatible virtual machines. Some file systems may not be mountable by a specific virtual machine. FLR uses the operating system on which it is running to read the contents of restore points. As a result, if the operating system of the virtual machine in which FLR is running can not read the file system for the restore point, that restore point will be inaccessible. For example, Linux machines may be unable to read NTFS files, so attempting to use FLR in a Linux virtual machine to read the contents of a Windows virtual machine's restore point may fail.

When a restore point is mounted, a root mount point is created on the virtual machine's local disk. The root mount point is a directory that has the same name as the restore points date in long format. It contains a directory for each mounted disk associated with that restore point. Users can browse the contents of the VMDK disk files for the restore point for the virtual machine. Any files on the disk files for the selected restore point can then be copied to a location of the user's choosing.

After file level restore operations have been completed, you can choose to unmount restore points. To unmount individual restore points in Windows, select a restore point and clicking Unmount, or you can choose to unmount all restore points by clicking Unmount All. To unmount restore points using FLR on Linux, enter the command unmount.

After exiting FLR, all resources that were used to enable FLR functionality are removed. Note that if FLR exits while mount points are still busy, you may need to perform a manual clean up of these resources. For more information on manually cleaning up busy unmounts, see the release notes.

The FLR client can be used by users with Administrator privileges in Windows or sudo privileges in Linux virtual machines. In Windows virtual machines, the FLR client requires the .NET 2.0 framework or later. In Linux virtual machines, the FLR client requires the 32-bit version of FUSE 2.5 or later. Note that for Linux, the 32-bit version is required, regardless of whether the virtual machine being used is 32-bit or 64-bit. For FLR to be relevant, it is valuable to have a backup appliance with restore points. FLR can be installed to an environment that does not have a backup appliance or restore points, but without those things, the client will not be useful. In standard mode, files can only be restored for the virtual machine you are logged in to. Use matching versions of FLR and the backup appliance. Using an older version of FLR may fail. FLR does not work with restore points for virtual machines that use GUID partition tables (GPT). FLR can be installed and used on virtual machines running the following operating systems:

32 or 64-bit Linux virtual machines including:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4/CentOS 5.4

Red Hat 4.8/CentOS 4.8

Ubuntu 8.04

Ubuntu 8.10

Ubuntu 9.04

Windows virtual machines including:

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2008


FLR is not recommended for use in some cases.

FLR is not supported on physical machines.

FLR is not recommended for use in environments using VMware vCloud Director (vCD). FLR and vCD may interact in unexpected ways, so disabling FLR is recommended by setting the EnableFileRestore to 0 in the datarecovery.ini file. For more information on modifying the datarecovery.ini file, see Understanding the datarecovery.ini File.