How to Add NAS to VMware ESXi as Datastore

If you don’t have enough VMware VM storage, you may want to add NAS to VMware ESXi as datastore, or just save the VM backups to NAS devices. Is there any way to do that? I will answer this question in this article.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

Case: Add NAS to VMware ESXi


I have a client with a single 6.5 host with 2 VM's. I would like to offload backups to their external NAS device which is running in RAID 1. How do I get the ESXi host to see the NAS if I connect the NAS directly to the host through USB?

- Question from

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are convenient as data storage devices that connects to and accessed through a network. As in the case above, you may also want to add NAS to VMware ESXi host if you want to store virtual machine data on a NAS datastore, or just want to offload virtual machine backups to an external NAS.

In this article, I will introduce how to add NAS to VMware ESXi as datastore.

How to add NAS to VMware ESXi

Available ways to add NAS to VMware ESXi

Although many NAS devices contain USB ports, you cannot add NAS to VMware ESXi directly through USB ports. This is because USB ports on the NAS devices are not used to connect the NAS device to your computer, but to connect other devices to your NAS device, for example, charging devices.

Therefore, if you want to add NAS on ESXi as a datastore, you will need to configure your NAS device in a networking infrastructure with related protocols such as NFS, CIFS, SMB, FTP, SFTP…based on your device vendor support. And then mount your NAS shared folders on your VMware ESXi server.


And if you want to store ESXi VM backups to an external NAS device, you can just directly backup VMware ESXi VMs to NAS. There are many software that allows you to do this, including AOMEI Cyber Backup. It allows you to backup multiple VMware ESXi VMs to NAS or locally with very simple steps.

In this article, I will cover both the 2 ways of how to connect NAS to ESXi via NFS Services, and how to back up ESXi VMs to NAS device directly.

How to add NAS to VMware ESXi as storage via NFS Services

In this part, I will introduce how to add Synology NAS to VMware ESXi via NFS Services as an example. To do this, you need to enable the NFS File Service and create a Synology NAS shard folder first, then mount it as a datastore on the VMware ESXi host.

Enabling the Synology NFS Service:

1. Access Synology NAS, and click Control Panel > File Services. Check Enable NFS option and click Apply.

Enable NFS on Synology

Creating a shared folder for VMware ESXi:

2. Back to Control Panel, click Shared Folder > Create to open the Shared Folder Creation Wizard.

Create shared folder on Synology

3. Provide a Name, Description (optional), and specify a Location for the shared folder, click Next to configure Encryption and other advanced settings. Once you are done, click Apply.

Create new shared folder

Setting the required NFS permissions:

4. Back to Shared Folder tab, click Edit and click NFS Permissions > Create in the pop-up window.

Create NFS permissions

5. Type the IP address (static) of your VMware ESXi host in Hostname or IP*, select Read/Write as the Privilege, and click OK to add this NFS rule.

Edit NFS rule

6. Copy the Mount path displayed in the NFS Permissions tab.

Copy the mount path

Mounting a Synology NAS shard folder on VMware ESXi:

7. Access VMware ESXi web client, navigate to Storage > Datastores > New datastore to open a new datastore creation wizard.

Create new datastore on VMware ESXi

8. On Select creation type tab, select Mount NFS datastore and click Next.

Mount NFS datastore

9. On Provide NFS mount details tab, provide a Name of the new datastore, and type the IP address of your Synology NAS in NFS server, type the Mount path you copied in NFS share. Click Next to continue.

Provide NFS mount details

10. Review the Summary of your settings, and click Finish to complete. Refresh the datastore list you can see the NAS have added as a new datastore.

Review NFS mount summary

How to backup VMware ESXi VM to NAS (free)

As I mentioned before, except for mounting Synology NAS shared folder on VMware ESXi, you can also directly backup VM to Synology NAS. Some backup tools provided by NAS manufacturers are shipped with the virtual machine backup features, but they are not stable and often have limitations. For example, Active Backup for Business versions 2.2.0 and above support the concurrent backup of a maximum of 50 devices, and it works only on certain models starting with DS420+.

Therefore, here I introduce you to a free virtual machine backup software -- AOMEI Cyber Backup. It allows you to backup multiple VMs directly to the NAS devices, automates the backup process, and sends email notifications if there's an error.

✦ Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
✦ Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate virtual machine protection.
✦ Restore Entire VM: restore immediately available VMs from any selected restore points.
Perpetual Free: you can use AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition with no time limit.
Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.

Next, I will demonstrate how to backup ESXi VMs to NAS directly via AOMEI Cyber Backup. You can click the following button to download the freeware.

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

3 simple steps to backup multiple ESXi VMs to NAS directly

1. Bind Devices: Access AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host as the source device, and then click > Bind Device.

Note: Once bound the host you do not need to repeat this step later.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and then set the Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target, and Schedule.

  • Device: cover multiple VMs on the host in one backup task.
  • Target: click Create a new network path and provide credentials to add your NAS device as storage target. Then you can specify the used network path in Favorite Target in the future.

Create NAS target

  • Schedule: performing full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution daily, weekly or monthly according to the frequency you specified.

Backup schedule type

3. Start Backup: Now you can click Start Backup and select to Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

Tip: While the Free Edition covers most of VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
Batch VM Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or standalone ESXi hosts.
Backup cleanup: Configure a retention policy to auto delete old backup files and save storage space.
▶ Restore to new location: Create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saves the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Restore to new location


If your VMware VM data storage is not enough, adding NAS to VMware ESXi as storage seems a good idea. In this article, I showed you how to add NAS to VMware ESXi host, and backup ESXi VMs directly to NAS.

If you just want to backup ESXi VMs to NAS directly, I recommend you to use AOMEI Cyber Backup. It simplifies VM backup procedure into 3 easy steps, and allows you to backup VMware virtual machine while running, which can save your time and labor, and keep your business continuity.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.