HOW TO: "Live Migrate" VMware Virtual Machines between ESX/ESXi hosts and/or datastores for FREE without licenses for vMotion or Storage vMotion

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
EE Fellow, 2xMVE, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2018-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert Pro, vExpert 2020-2011
Migrate VMs between hosts and/or datastores for FREE without vMotion/Storage vMotion or Shared Storage

Not all organisation have access to VMware's vMotion or VMware's Storage vMotion technology because of budgetry constraints. I've written this article because it's a question which appears on Experts Exchange at least every few weeks, and now there is an easy solution to the problem.

Scenario 1
First implementation of VMware vSphere Essentials without shared storage, later the organisation purchases shared storage (iSCSI or Fibre Channel SAN or NFS NAS), and then needs to migrate existing virtual machines with little downtime to the shared storage platform.
Scenario 2
Organisation purchases a second newer replacement VMware vSphere host, needs to migrate existing virtual machines with little downtime to new VMware vSphere host.

Traditionally we would use ESXi/ESX Backup and Restore techniques, VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0, or Datastore browser to clone or copy see my previous Experts Exchange articles below, to address the above scenarios, (remember here that VMware's vMotion or VMware's Storage vMotion is NOT available, because it's not available in our licensed version of VMware vSphere).

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

HOW TO: Clone or Copy a virtual machine in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESX/ESXi 4.x or ESXi 5.0

HOW TO: Improve the transfer rate of a Physical to Virtual (P2V), Virtual to Virtual Conversion (V2V) using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0

HOW TO:  P2V, V2V for FREE - VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 5.0

Software Technology has improved and using Veeam Quick Migration, we can migrate Live VMs between hosts and datastores for FREE!

In the latest version of Veeam Backup Free Edition, there is a new function called Quick Migration. Veeam Backup Free Edition is the same download as Veeam Backup and Replication v6.1, but a Veeam license is not applied at installation time.

The Quick Migration utility in Veeam Backup Free Edition lets you migrate a live VM to any host or datastore—even if you don’t use clusters or shared storage.

Quick Migration leverages native VMware technology, as well as exclusive Veeam technology, to accommodate any migration scenario, including:

    Migrating a VM from a local datastore to shared storage
    Migrating a VM between 2 separate hosts and datastores

With Quick Migration’s point-and-click interface, you can easily move a live VM from any source to any destination, even if vMotion and vStorage Motion are not available. And with Veeam’s SmartSwitch technology, downtime is reduced to mere seconds.


In the following steps, I will demonstrate, how a Live virtual machine can be migrated from a Local Datastore attached to a VMware vSphere ESXi host, to an iSCSI LUN on a SAN and different VMware vSphere ESXi host. - this demonstrates a vMotion (migrate from one host to another host) and Storage vMotion. (from one datastore to new datastore) - using Veeam Quick Migration.


1. VMware vCenter Server for Windows or VMware vCenter Appliance installed and configured with one or more VMware vSphere ESXi/ESX hosts. So you would need to have purchased at least VMware vSphere Essentials.

2. Veeam Backup Free Edition for VMware and Hyper-V installed on a virtual or physical server. We often install Veeam Backup and Replication v6.1 (same product) on a Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, with 2 vCPU and 8GB RAM. I'm not going to document the installation of Veeam Backup Free Edition, because it is simply, point and click; download the software, extract the software from the ZIP archive, Run the setup program, and Click Next...Next...Next...Finish.

1. Start Veeam Backup & Replication

Click the Veeam Backup & Replication icon to start the backup application.
Click the Veeam Backup & Replication iconThe application will start and display the following banner
Veeam Backup & Replication startup bannerthe following configuration screen will be displayed
Configuration Screen

2. Add VMware vSphere vCenter Server

Before using Veeam Backup Free Edition, you must register your virtual infrastructure. To start this process, Click the Add Server button in the ribbon, the following Add Server Dialogue box will be displayed.
Add ServerSelect VMware vSphere, the following dialogue box will be displayed, add the DNS name or IP Address of your VMware vCenter Server. We always prefer to use DNS names, and to ensure that DNS is working correctly.
Enter DNS Name or IP Addressin this tutorial the vCenter Server for Windows we will be using is called Enter the FQDN of the vCenter Server and Click Next
Enter vCenter Server DNS NameEnter an Administrator account and password which has access to vCenter Server, followed by Next.
Enter Administrator username and passwordthe following dialogue boxes will appear in turn
Detecting server typeSaving server to configurationafter a few seconds the final Summary dialogue appears, confirming Successful addition of the vCenter Server. Click Finish.
Successful ConfigurationClick the "+" sign next to VMware vSphere, and expand, this will show the list of Virtual Machines registered on VMware vSphere vCenter.
Show Virtual Machines registered on vCenter Server

3. Using the Veeam QuickMigration function

In this tutorial, we will Quick Migrate a Live virtual machine called "Cyrus Time NTP Appliance", although this is a small virtual machine appliance it's very important because this single appliance is responsible for providing correct time synchronisation for all servers, workstations, routers, switches and printers in our offices.

This virtual machine is currently hosted on an VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.0 host called -, and is stored on the hosts local datastore called esxdev005_local_vmfs5.
Virtual Machine to be Quick Migratedand in this tutorial we will Quick Migrate the Live virtual machine to a host called - and a shared storage iSCSI LUN, formatted VMFS5 datastore called lun26_filer03. This is an iSCSI LUN, on a NetApp filer.

Right Click the Virtual Machine to be QuickMigrated and select Quick Migration
Select the Virtual Machinethe following screen confirms the virtual machine you would like to Quick Migrate, Click Next to confirm
Confirm virtual machine for quick migrationSelect Destination host, resource pool, VM folder and datastore. In this tutorial the screeenshot shows the selection we have selected, followed by Next.
Select Destination host, resource pool, VM folder and datastore.The next screen asks which proxy to use, with the Free Edition, there is only one Backup Proxy installed on the default server, so select Automatic, and click Next. In the licensed version of Veeam Backup & Replication, multiple Backup Proxys can increase transfer times.
Select Backup Proxy - leave as AutomaticThe following diaglogue boxes appears that Checks the possibility of migration this ensures ESX/ESXi hosts are reachable, datastores, and networks are correct.

A confirmation screen is displayed which summarises the Migration, Click Finish to start the Quick Migration. You can also select that the source VM is deleted after a successful migration. (tick box)
Ready for Quick MigrationThe Quick Migration in Progress
Quick Migration in ProgressQuick Migration Completed successfully
Quick Migration Completed successfullyThe following screenshot shows the Quick Migrated machine, on the correct host and datastore.
Quick Migrated Virtual Machine
Finally, on inspection in the vSphere Client, you will find, you have a backup of the original VM called <vm name>_migrated and the migrated virtual machine on the host and datastore selected.

Quick Migrated Virtual Machines
BUT, both VMs are Suspended, so just issue a Power-On Request to your original VM to resume service! (that's CTRL+B)

I suspect there is a little bugget here with VMware vSphere Client because both VMs are suspended and should have Pause Symbols, but there is a Pause Symbol missing from the Migrated VM, I suspect it's not refreshing after being Registered with vCenter Server, if you watch carefully, you will see a Pause symbol shortly after a Power-On is issued, and then changes to a Green Powered On Symbol.

In this tutorial article we have shown How To Migrate a Live Virtual Machine from an ESX/ESXi host, to another ESXi/ESX host, and migrate from local storage to shared storage for FREE using the Quick Migrate function in the latest version of Veeam Backup Free Edition.

Try it today, it's free, and much easier than alternative methods.

Thank you for reading my article, please leave valuable feedback. If you liked my VMware article and would like to see more Articles from me, please click the Yes button near the: Was this article helpful? at the bottom of this article just below and to the right of this information. Thank You. Do not forget if you have a question about this article or another VMware, Virtualisation, Windows Server 2012 question, why not post a Question for Me and the other Experts Exchange Experts in the VMware, Virtualisation, Windows 2008 Zones. I look forward to hearing from you. - Andy :- twitter @einsteinagogo
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
EE Fellow, 2xMVE, Expert of the Year 2017-2011, Scribe 2016-2012, Author of the Year 2018-6,2013-2012 VMware vExpert Pro, vExpert 2020-2011

Comments (25)

pchettriIT Director

what happens if the old server is a single ESX 4 host and uses DAS? Can I add new vcenter 5.5 on Veem and migrate VMs from ESX 4 without shared storage?
Expert of the Year 2017


@pchettri - Please post a question and myself or other Experts will be glad to assist.
simo SimoAdmin


Great article.

I have a question:

Does the Veeam Backup utility moves VMs from ESX 4 to ESXI 5.5.

Cause I Have a new clusters of ESXi Hosts version 5.5 and I need to move all the VMs from my old ESX host 4.1?
Expert of the Year 2017


It used to support 4.1, but whether the latest download does is another question, as 4.1 has been retired long ago.

This article was written around 6.1, and it did support 4.1, the latest current version of Veeam is 9.0!
Hi Andrew

In first place, thank you for your work, it's really useful!

But.. I have problems using your procedure with ESX 6.0 and Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5, when I try to made a "Quick Migration" or a "Backup" I get the error:
"Preparing target VM Error: Current vSphere license or ESXi version prohibits execution of the requested operation. "

But the ESX is licensed:
"Product: VMware vSphere 6 Hypervisor Licensed for 2 physical CPUs (unlimited cores per CPU)
License Key: **************
Expires: Never

Product Features:
    Up to 8-way virtual SMP"

Please, could you help me?

Many thanks!

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