How to use VirtIO in a Virtual Machine - x360Recover

Written By Tami Sutcliffe (Super Administrator)

Updated at August 16th, 2021

Enabling VirtIO for a running Virtual Machine replaces the emulated IDE mode disk storage system with a paravirtual SCSI mode storage controller.  Using paravirtual storage drivers improves disk I/O considerably for the guest operating system and also allows for more than four disk storage devices. 

When enabling VirtIO in Test Mode, the changes will remain persistent for only ONE boot cycle of the selected recovery point.  Once the VM is shut down and powered off, all changes will be lost and the recovery point will revert back to traditional IDE storage controller mode.  Enabling VirtIO in Test Mode is available strictly purposes of testing the installation procedures and performance for a given Protected System.

When enabling VirtIO in Live Mode, a permanent, persistent snapshot of the selected recovery point will be created.  VirtIO changes to the configuration will remain enabled permanently for the selected recovery point. The selected recovery point will be locked and remain on the device until manually deleted from the storage pool by Axcient x360Recover Support. VirtIO will be enabled only for this recovery point. All other recovery points will remain configured for traditional IDE storage controller mode.

Ensure that your popup blocker is disabled before starting setup for VirtIO.

Installing VirtIO Drivers

  1. Login the Axcient x360Recover appliance or vault and open the Protected System details page of the system you wish to virtualize.
  2. Click ‘Start VM’ in the Actions menu for the recovery point you wish to virtualize. Be sure to make a note of the snapshot date and time for future reference.
  3. Choose the RAM, CPU, and Mode you wish to virtualize in.
    At the bottom of the pop-up window, you will see “Setup virtio”,   select it so a check appears in the box.
  4. Enter the Encryption Passphrase if prompted
  5. Press Start to launch the VM.

  6. When prompted for the Virtio Setup Confirmation, select Yes.

  7. The Virtio setup process window will appear.


  8. If this is a UEFI system, you will be presented with the UEFI BIOS screen. Select Continue from the BIOS menu and press <Enter>
  9. The Protected System will boot to the Windows startup menu. Select Safe Mode to load windows faster without unnecessary components at this stage.
  10. Log into the Windows Protected System with a user account that has local admin rights. If this is a Domain Controller you will need the Active Directory Restore user and password.
  11. If the system displays a request to Reboot, Select Restart Later.

  12. From Control Panel open Device Manager.
  13. Expand Other Devices and select SCSI Controller. Right-click and select Update Driver Software.

  14. Select Browse My Computer for Driver Software. 
  15. Click the Browse button and navigate to the attached CD Drive image.

  16. Expand the drive containing the ‘viostor’ drivers and navigate downward to the correct operating system and architecture for the Protected System.
  17. Select the appropriate folder containing the correct drivers and click Ok.

  18. Click Next to begin the driver installation process.

  19. Windows will present you with a security warning to verify driver software installation. Select Install to proceed.

  20. You should receive a successful install prompt when the driver installation has completed. Click Close.

    At this point, the Protected System needs to be rebooted or shut down to complete the installation of the new drivers and commit registry changes to disk. From within the virtual environment, perform a reboot or shutdown of the Protected System.

    If rebooting, wait for the system to reach the BIOS POST screen before proceeding. Once the system has started a new boot cycle or completed its shutdown you may continue.
  21. The Virtio drivers are now installed.
  22. Go back to the Axcient x360Recover appliance/vault Web Interface and select Finish at the Virtio setup process window.

  23. This will shut down the VM and switch the disks to the Virtio SCSI Controller. Be patient while the VM powers off. 
  24. Once the system is powered off, you may power on the VM normally and it will be using the Virtio drivers.
  25. If you performed the setup in Test Mode, the VirtIO drivers and configuration will be present for ONE boot cycle and then revert back to the standard IDE driver configuration.
  26. If you performed the setup in Live Mode, the VirtIO drivers and configuration will remain persistent for THIS recovery point unless they are manually cleared from the device on the backend by Axcient  x360Recover Support.
  27. Once the protected system has booted into Windows, open Computer Management from Control Panel, expand Storage and select Disk Management. If any disks are listed as Offline, right-click the disk name and select Online. (Windows attaches newly discovered SCSI disks Offline by default).
  28. To change the default disk policy so that newly discovered disks will always be placed Online, perform the following on the production Protected System:
    • Open an elevated Command prompt (i.e run-as Administrator)
    • Run ‘diskpart’
    • Enter ‘san policy=onlineall’
    • Exit diskpart
    • Perform a backup to capture a new snapshot of the Protected System.

Using VirtIO with UEFI

If the Protected System you are virtualizing is using a UEFI BIOS, follow these additional steps.

The EFI BIOS emulation currently does not auto-detect the VirtIO SCSI controller as a bootable device, and will not automatically boot from it. The following steps will be required each time you power on a UEFI based virtual server with VirtIO drivers installed in order to manually add the Protected System’s hard drive to the boot order and select it.
Because of this limitation, Axcient x360Recover does not recommend using VirtIO for UEFI based systems.

  1. Select Start VM and wait for the EFI BIOS console to appear.
  2. Select Boot Maintenance Manager and press Enter.
  3. Select Boot Options and press Enter.
  4. Select Add Boot Option and press Enter.
  5. You will be presented with a list of physical disk devices discovered by the BIOS. Select the bootable hard drive and press Enter to browse downward into the device. (If you cannot find the folders referenced in the proceeding steps, try a different device at this stage.)
  6. Select EFI and Press Enter (If EFI is not present, this is the wrong drive, press ESC and return to the step above).
  7. Select Boot and press Enter.
  8. Select efi (or bootx86.efi whichever is present) and press Enter
  9. Select Input the Description and press Enter.
  10. Type Microsoft Windows and press Enter.
  11. Select Commit Changes and Exit and press Enter.
  12. Select Boot Options and press Enter.
  13. Select Change Boot Order and press Enter.
  14. Select Change the Order and press Enter.
  15. Highlight Microsoft Windows and press ‘+’ several times to place it just after EFI Floppy.
  16. Press Enter.
  17. Select Commit Changes and Exit and press Enter.
  18. Select Go Back to Main Page and press Enter.
  19. Press ESC.
  20. Select Continue and press Enter.
  21. Windows should now boot.

Remember, the Boot Order settings are persistent only as long as the virtual machine is not powered off. They will be retained through a warm reboot, but if the system is shut down and then restarted this configuration process will have to be repeated in order to set up the EFI BIOS boot settings.