Troubleshooting the vCenter Failed to Lock the File Error

In virtualized environments, encountering the vCenter failed to lock the file error can disrupt operations and lead to data integrity concerns. Please read this article, it offers troubleshooting methods to overcome it.


By Zelia / Updated on December 14, 2023

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Understanding of vCenter failed to lock the file

In VMware environments, the vCenter failed to lock the file issue can be a frustrating and disruptive problem. This error typically occurs when attempting to perform operations on virtual machines through vCenter, such as powering on, migrating, or editing configurations. The error message indicates that vCenter is unable to obtain the necessary file lock to complete the requested action, leading to the operation's failure. Understanding and troubleshooting this issue is crucial for maintaining the stability and functionality of the VMware infrastructure.

Moreover, the significance of vCenter server in virtualized infrastructures is paramount. As the centralized management platform for VMware environments, vCenter plays a critical role in simplifying and streamlining the administration and operation of virtualized resources. It provides a comprehensive set of tools and functionalities that enable efficient management, monitoring, and control of virtual machines, hosts, clusters, and storage resources.


Why vCenter failed to lock the file

vCenter failed to lock the file issue can occur in various contexts, and this error typically prevents you from modifying or deleting the file until the lock is released. There are several potential causes for this problem:

  • Active processes or connections: If any active processes or connections are still accessing the virtual machine files, vCenter may fail to acquire the necessary lock. This can happen if a virtual machine is still running, a console session is active, or there are ongoing file transfers.
  • Stale or orphaned locks: In some cases, a lock may persist even after the associated process has terminated abnormally or failed to release the lock properly. This can leave vCenter unable to acquire the necessary lock for subsequent operations.
  • Resource contention: When multiple vCenter instances or ESXi hosts are involved, resource contention can occur, leading to lock conflicts. vCenter cannot open the disk failed to lock the file can happen if different vCenter instances or hosts attempt to access the same virtual machine simultaneously.

How to solve the vCenter failed to lock the file error

It requires a systematic troubleshooting approach to help vCenter power on failed to lock the file. Please consider the following methods:

Method 1: Identifying the locked file

1. Start the virtual machine, this process should fail and show an error message. Take note of the displayed error.

2. Establish an SSH session to connect to the ESXi host where the virtual machine resides.

3. Determine the IP address of the host that is holding the lock by executing the vmfsfilelockinfo command on the VMDK flat, delta, or sesparse file for VMFS, or on the .UUID.lck file for vSAN. vmfsfilelockinfo takes these parameters:

  • File to be tested
  • Username and password for accessing VMware vCenter Server (when tracing MAC address to ESX host.)


Note: During the life-cycle of a powered on virtual machine, several of its files transitions between various legitimate lock states. The type of lock that is on the file is indicated by the lock state mode. Listed below are the lock modes.

  • mode 0 = no lock
  • mode 1 = is an exclusive lock (vmx file of a powered on virtual machine, the currently used disk (flat or delta), *vswp, and so on.)
  • mode 2 = is a read-only lock (For example on the ..-flat.vmdk of a running virtual machine with snapshots)
  • mode 3 = is a multi-writer lock (For example used for MSCS clusters disks or FT VMs)

4. Use the lsof 'locked_file_name' command, specifying the 'locked_file_name' to determine the name of the process that is holding the lock. Filter the output to locate the relevant file name.

5. Retrieve the list of active Cartel IDs by executing the command.

esxcli vm process list

6. In case no processes are displayed, utilize the following script that can search for VMs with the locked vmdk mounted.


7. Once you have identified the locked file, shut down the virtual machine that is currently holding the lock and proceed to reboot the ESXi host that holds the lock.

Method 2: Deleting the LCK folders of the virtual machine

1. Ensure that VMware is completely closed and the virtual machine is powered off.

2. Open File Explorer and go to the Documents >> Virtual Machines. Locate the virtual machine that is causing the problem.

Note: If you saved your virtual machine in a custom location, navigate to that location using File Explorer.

3. If you have multiple virtual machines, double-click on the one that is experiencing the issue.

4. Within the virtual machine folder, you will find one or two folders with names ending in lck. Select both folders, right-click, and choose Delete to remove them. If you come across any .log files outside the .lck folders, delete them as well.


Note: Deleting these folders and files will not have any negative impact on your virtual machine. VMware will automatically recreate the folders the next time you start the virtual machine.

5. Restart your computer. Then launch the virtual machine and check if the issue has been resolved.

Method 3. Restarting the vCenter server services

1. Log in to the vSphere Web Client with a vCenter SSO administrator account. Then navigate to Administration >> Deployment >> System Configuration.


2. To obtain a list of every service available on the vCenter Server system, click on Services.

3. Click Nodes to select the desired node, and select the Related Objects tab to get a list of services for that node.


4. Right-click on the service you would like to start and select Restart.

Best backup solution to avoid the effects of vCenter errors

vCenter failed to lock the file error highlights the critical importance of data backup in virtualized environments. Data backup ensures that even in the event of vCenter errors or other data-related issues, organizations can recover their valuable data and maintain business continuity.

To mitigate the impact of vCenter errors and ensure data protection, implementing a reliable backup solution is crucial. AOMEI Cyber Backup, a powerful VMware backup software, offers robust features and benefits, making it an excellent choice for vCenter environments. Some key features include:

✧ Agentless Backup: Create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
✧ Automated Execution: Create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.
✧ Easy-to-use: Manage VM backup and recovery from central console without complicated reinstallation and complication.
✧ Email Notification: Send email notification when the task is completed or abnormal.

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports various versions including ESXi 6.0 and later versions. Next, I will show you how to avoid the effects of vCenter errors by backup your vCenter VMs. Please click the following button to download the 30-day free trial.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
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*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

4 easy steps to backup and restore vCenter VMs

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device >> VMware >> + Add VMware vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click Bind Device.


2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task >> + Create New Task, and then select VMware ESXi Backup as the Device Type.

  • Task Name: you can change the task name or use the default name with an ordinal.
  • Device: batch select large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server for centralized backup.
  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path.
  • Schedule: choose to perform full, differential or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.
  • Cleanup: automatically delete the old backup copies that exceed the retention period you specified.


3. Run Backup: Click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.


4. Restore from Backup: Navigate to the backup task you want to restore, click Restore to open the wizard. Then choose to Restore to original location or Restore to new location. And click Start Restore to recover the virtual machine in place.

Restore to new location: Create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup to perform out-of-spacre recovery, saves the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.



Through this article, you have gained a deeper understanding of the vCenter failed to lock the file error, its causes, and effective troubleshooting methods. But please remember, proactive troubleshooting and a comprehensive virtual machine backup strategy are both key to maintaining the integrity and availability of VMs and ensuring uninterrupted operations in your vCenter environments.

Zelia · Editor
Zelia is an editor from AOMEI Technology.She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. Writing is one of her hobbies and she wants her articles to be seen by more people. In her spare time, she likes to draw and listen to music, and it is a pleasure for her to focus on her own world.