vCenter repair and other issues

I have to confess, the vCenter server in my home lab has a terrible life. It is home lab and not a customer’s production environment, so my vCenter server has to undergo all kinds of OS patching, vCenter upgrades, unexpected power downs etc, etc.

The “vCenter Service Status” often shows all kinds of interesting alerts.

So after watching David Davis “VMware vSphere Troubleshooting Training”, which I can recommend ( I don’t get paid for this recommendation), I try whatever I can to fix my broken vCenter server. VMware also did a good job, there are a lot Knowledge Base articles that can help you solving your problems.

But sometimes you have to be rational, the cause of the problem seems a weird Tomcat issue, you have already spent too much time, but the “nerd inside” whispers; “Go on, search and fix it”.

Another approach.

  • Make sure, you can afford some downtime, let us say about 30 minutes, sounds reasonable?
  • Search your vCenter installation media. If your vCenter server is virtual, the ISO file will do. Make sure you have the correct Build number. In the menu, go to Help and About VMware vSphere:
    In my case this is the correct ISO: VMware-VIMSetup-all-4.1.0-345042.iso.
    Right now, I cannot explain the difference between Build 345043 and 345042. Anyway, 345042 is the official Build number according to VMware’s Support and Download section.
  • If your vCenter Server is virtual, create a snapshot.
  • Login to the vCenter Server, go to Services and Stop the “VMware VirtualCenter Server” service.
  • Go to “Programs and Features”, select “VMware vCenter Server” and choose Uninstall.
  • After some time “Uninstall completed” shows up. Now vCenter has been uninstalled. But the database is still there, even “vCenter Update Manager” is still installed.
  • Now it is time to reboot the server.
  • After the reboot, make sure the correct installation media is mounted and start the installation of vCenter Server. Proceed as you would do installing a new server. However, there are a few important steps.
  • When it comes to “Database Options”, make sure, you select “Use an existing supported database”. Under Data Source Name (DSN), select the vCenter Server Database. If nothing shows up, you have to check this first.
  • The next screen should look something like this one.
  • The next dialog should show “Database re-initialization warning”. Here you must (sorry, I don’t like this word) choose “Do not overwrite, leave my existing database in place”.
  • After this important dialog, continue as normal. vCenter Server will be installed with your old database available.
  • If the installation has been finished, it is time to check the results. Connect to the vCenter Server with the vSphere Client. Check the “vCenter Service Status” and see if “Update Manager” is available.
  • If everything is fine, do not forget to remove the snapshot.

Other issues, this part will be updated when necessary.

When trying to add users or groups from an Active Directory, the list is not populated.

All credits go to VMware Communities forum member “thinks2much” for solving the issue in this post.

When trying to change permissions, all users and groups local to the vCenter server are visible, after selecting the Active Directory domain (in my case, the name is “Virtual”), no users or groups are visible.

The ultimate solution was to run the “VMware VirtualCenter Server” and the “VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices” under the Local System account. For some reason, during install, I have configured these services to run under a local Administrator account. This brings me to this overview of all services relevant to vCenter (Startup Type = Automatic) and the configured accounts.

Service Account
VMware Tools Service Local System
VMware Upgrade Helper Local System
VMware vCenter Update Manager Service Local System
VMware VirtualCenter Management Webservices Local System
VMware VirtualCenter Server Local System
VMwareVCMSDS Network Service

I welcome your feedback, enjoy reading.

One Response to vCenter repair and other issues

  1. Kevin Van Geystelen says:

    Idd the best way to recover vcenter is a reinstall with the existing database I change a listening port and vmware crashed now im reinstalling it

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