Windows Azure Virtual Machine disappeared or gone , How do I recover?


We often hear from our Windows Azure customers who are using new preview feature “Windows Azure Virtual Machines” that they created a VM and one fine day, it suddenly disappeared or gone. I’m writing this post to give few details about the issue and what steps can be performed to recover from the situation.



You have created a VM and it worked fine for few days and all of a sudden VM is not being listed in the portal and it appears to be gone. There are two common reasons we see why the VMs are deleted.

Reason#1 VM is created under a trial subscription and the trial quotas are reached

This is by design behavior to ensure your account is not billed after the quotas are reached. Trial quotas are documented here. If the VMs are deleted due to quotas, an email will be send to account administrator and also, you can navigate to to verify if the quotas are indeed reached.

Note: New preview portal now gives notification message when the trial period is about to end. 

Workaround: Though the VMs are deleted to ensure the account is not billed, the data(VHDs) itself is persisted to Windows Azure Storage and we can use these VHDs/Disks to create a new VM. To create a VM based on the disk, use the following steps. Also ensure that you enable charges on your subscription before you follow these steps so that you will not encounter the same problem again.

  • Navigate to new preview portal (Note: if you are using the OrgId, you need to append the OrgId to the URL)
  • Choose “Virtual Machines” , Select “New”
  • Select “From Gallery” , Select “My Disks”
  • Select the disk that was created for previous VM(which was missing from the list)
  • Follow the wizard to complete other steps to create virtual machine.

Note: 1) If you do not see the disk in the list, it is possible that lease on VHD is not removed. You can follow this thread to break lease on the VHD.

2) To use the DNS name that was created for original VM, you need to delete the cloud service before creating the new virtual machine. Otherwise, you would get an error stating DNS name is already in use.

*** Efforts are in progress to improve the user experience for this issue.***


Reason#2 User performed capture operation on a VM

This is by design too. Capture operation is meant to create an image(or template) based on which multiple VMs can be created. Part of the process involves user to sysprep the VM which strips out system specific information (i.e. system name, etc.) from VM , so that it can be used as an Image. Since the system specific information is removed, VM cannot continue as-is. To create a new VM based on the image which was captured, use the following steps.

  • Navigate to new preview portal (Note: if you are using the OrgId, you need to append the OrgId to the URL)
  • Choose “Virtual Machines” , Select “New”
  • Select “From Gallery” , Select “My Images”
  • Select the Image that was created using “Capture” operation
  • Follow the wizard to complete other steps to create virtual machine.

 I've posted another blog post about Windows Azure Virtual Machines - common issues, questions, gotchas that may be helpful.


Applies To : Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Key words : VM is missing, VM gone, Virtual Machine, Disappeared, Windows Azure

Comments (12)
  1. rs says:

    PLEASE STOP DELETING VMs AND VIRTUAL NETWORKS!  This is insane that you would be so draconian to delete the VMs & Virtual Networks.  I can see disabling them to not incure costs not expected, but simply deleting them without providing the ability to alert the subscription owner in advance is a TERRIBLE way to treat customers & partners

  2. hi rs,

    I totally understand your opinions. But, unfortunately there is no option to disable them with out avoiding the charges. If we do enable charges for VMs post trial quotas, then account administrators can question us as to why we started charging with out taking consent. So, we are caught up in a catch 22 situation.

    I believe the best option would be to provide the account administrators to choose what action platform should perform(whether it should delete VMs/Virtual networks or enable charges) after the trial quotas are reached. Please share your thoughts on this!



  3. Karel Kunz says:

    I just lost my two VMs last night, two months into our THREE month trial period. And while I am big fan of Microsoft, and a partner of theirs, this practice is absolutely absurd and unacceptable. While I was able to recover the OS portion of the missing VM after some searching for solutions on the forums, I am still missing the D: drive that actually had my main application installed. Once again, Microsoft’s techies have outdone themselves. What ever happened to advanced emails or similar notifications? Arrrgh!!

  4. Hi Karel,

    3 month free trial offer does not come with unlimited quotas. The trial quotas are documented here…/free-trial.

    The temporary disk is not persisted to Windows Azure storage like the other OS Disk, Data Disks. Data on the temporary disks will be lost when the VM is moved to another physical node due to patching, upgrades, etc. Data loss can also happen if Windows Azure detects an issue with the node your VM is running on and moves your deployment to another node to rectify the issue.  The temporary disk is purely meant to store pagefile, temporary logs that you do not need to persist, etc. You must not use this temporary disk to store any data that you are not ready to lose.



  5. Robert says:

    I understand that charges will occur if the trial limits are reached. However, when I chose not to incur any charges, I had no idea that all of my machines that I have spent a couple of weeks building would be deleted. Sure, it may have been in some lengthy TOS agreement, but had I been warned in big bold text that not choosing a payment method could have resulted in this action, I would have certainly provided a payment method. I'm very pleased with Azure so far, but this frustrated me enough that I'm now considering AWS instead, especially after really talking up Azure to my peers over the past couple of weeks.

  6. Hi Robert,

    Thank you for sharing your valuable feedback.

    I totally understand your sentiments and we have received similar feedback from others.  I want to inform you that feedback is well received by our internal teams and efforts are in place to address this issue. Also, as I've explained in the blog, critical data is not lost and customers can rebuild VMs with steps outlined above.

    We apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused to you due to this issue and we hope to see you continue with Azure.



  7. Joel says:

    Hi Robert,

    On a longshot that you may see this thread again, I'm curious where you ended up with your buildout? Like you, I have been up to a direct comparison between AWS vs Azure, also leaning towards Azure until I ran into essentially the same issue that you have reported here. While we can recover from this abrupt data loss without any warning, it has raised concerns for other unknowns in the Azure product base.


  8. David says:

    I was also hit by the vanishing VM phenomenon and was glad I found this post on how to restore the vhd to a new vm. What I learned along the way is that choosing an 'availability set' during the VM creation process can double or quadruple the number of compute hours you are charged every day, so avoid that unless you really need high availability.

    In my case I'm using a single VM for self study and everything is self contained on the VM. To maximize my compute hour usage I delete the VM every evening and create a new one in the morning and attach  the saved VHD. It takes a few minutes so I start the process before I shower, eat breakfast,, drink coffee etc,  so by the time I'm done the VM is ready to go.

    That way I only use about 6 – 8 compute hours for every 24 clock hours rather than the 96 I was using daily and ran out of allocated 'free hours' in less than a week!

    Hope this helps someone,  I wish the Azure portal had made this easier to understand from the get-go!!!

  9. Trouble with restoring VM says:

    I have lost my VM after trial period expired. I was trying to restore VM following advise in this article, but have found problem with selecting the Disk. I can't choose it because it's subscription disabled. What I must to do? How can I change subscription of the disk?

  10. Hi,  (Trouble with restoring VM)

    Below are the few options for you to recreate the VM.

    1) If you are using the 90 day free trial subscription and have days left, you would need to wait for the billing cycle to start again, so that for the next billing cycle, the quotas are reset, you will be able to use the subscription again. After the subscription becomes active, you can recreate the VM.

    2) If you the trial subscription you are using does not have any days left for the billing cycle to start again, you can contact our billing support team using…/contact and convert the subscription to paid subscription and then recreate the VM.

    Hope this helps.



  11. Hamza Zuberi says:

    I created a trial account on Windows Azure using my office365 account, and created a VM, it was up and running, I was also able to log in on the VM via RDP and install test software. Today, I deleted the account i used to create the azure account, and recreated the same account. Now, when I log in on Windows Azure, it says I have no subscription! And I can still login on the VM via RDP! What's going on?

  12. Hi Hamza,

    Apologies for the delay. Behavior you are stating is very weird, I've not seen it before. I suggest creating a support case from



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