How to detach a data disk from a Linux virtual machine

When you no longer need a data disk that's attached to a virtual machine, you can easily detach it. This removes the disk from the virtual machine, but doesn't remove it from storage. In this article, we are working with an Ubuntu LTS 16.04 distribution. If you are using a different distribution, the instructions for unmounting the disk might be different.


If you detach a disk it is not automatically deleted. If you have subscribed to Premium storage, you will continue to incur storage charges for the disk. For more information, see Pricing and Billing when using Premium Storage.

If you want to use the existing data on the disk again, you can reattach it to the same virtual machine, or another one.

Connect to the VM to unmount the disk

Before you can detach the disk using either CLI or the portal, you need to unmount the disk and removed references to if from your fstab file.

Connect to the VM. In this example, the public IP address of the VM is with the username azureuser:

ssh azureuser@

First, find the data disk that you want to detach. The following example uses dmesg to filter on SCSI disks:

dmesg | grep SCSI

The output is similar to the following example:

[    0.294784] SCSI subsystem initialized
[    0.573458] Block layer SCSI generic (bsg) driver version 0.4 loaded (major 252)
[    7.110271] sd 2:0:0:0: [sda] Attached SCSI disk
[    8.079653] sd 3:0:1:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI disk
[ 1828.162306] sd 5:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI disk

Here, sdc is the disk that we want to detach. You also should grab the UUID of the disk.

sudo -i blkid

The output looks similar to the following example:

/dev/sda1: UUID="11111111-1b1b-1c1c-1d1d-1e1e1e1e1e1e" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sdb1: UUID="22222222-2b2b-2c2c-2d2d-2e2e2e2e2e2e" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sdc1: UUID="33333333-3b3b-3c3c-3d3d-3e3e3e3e3e3e" TYPE="ext4"

Edit the /etc/fstab file to remove references to the disk.


Improperly editing the /etc/fstab file could result in an unbootable system. If unsure, refer to the distribution's documentation for information on how to properly edit this file. It is also recommended that a backup of the /etc/fstab file is created before editing.

Open the /etc/fstab file in a text editor as follows:

sudo vi /etc/fstab

In this example, the following line needs to be deleted from the /etc/fstab file:

UUID=33333333-3b3b-3c3c-3d3d-3e3e3e3e3e3e   /datadrive   ext4   defaults,nofail   1   2

Use umount to unmount the disk. The following example unmounts the /dev/sdc1 partition from the /datadrive mount point:

sudo umount /dev/sdc1 /datadrive

Detach a data disk using Azure CLI

This example detaches the myDataDisk disk from VM named myVM in myResourceGroup.

az vm disk detach \
    -g myResourceGroup \
	--vm-name myVm \
	-n myDataDisk

The disk stays in storage but is no longer attached to a virtual machine.

Detach a data disk using the portal

  1. In the left menu, select Virtual Machines.
  2. Select the virtual machine that has the data disk you want to detach and click Stop to deallocate the VM.
  3. In the virtual machine pane, select Disks.
  4. At the top of the Disks pane, select Edit.
  5. In the Disks pane, to the far right of the data disk that you would like to detach, click the Detach button image detach button.
  6. After the disk has been removed, click Save on the top of the pane.
  7. In the virtual machine pane, click Overview and then click the Start button at the top of the pane to restart the VM.

The disk stays in storage but is no longer attached to a virtual machine.

Next steps

If you want to reuse the data disk, you can just attach it to another VM.