move virtual machines from one server to another

Posted on 2008-11-12
Last Modified: 2012-05-05

We need to reinstall our ESXi server and we need to backup all virtual machines then reinstall ESXi clean and import virtual machines again.
Any easy free way to do this?  Or we need Virtual Infrastructure to do this?
Question by:itmti
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    What about using VMWare Consolidated Backup?
    LVL 16

    Expert Comment

    you can hook up another additional drive to this box, create a datastore on it, clone the vms to it, then unhook it.  then you do the esx clean install, re hook up the additional drive, and clone back.  that's my idea.

    Good Luck,

    - gurutc
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    Alternatively, you can download those VMs to either a network share, your workstation's local drive, or external hard drive. Make sure that destination target has enough space to store your VMs.

    Note: Before doing this, make sure to power down each VM that you're going to download.

    Using the VI Client, click the ESX server that has hosts your VMs. Click the Summary Tab. Under Resources, right click the datastore that contains your VMs and select Browse Datastore...

    Then on the right column, select all the VM folders to download, right click and select Download...
    In the Browse for Folder window that appears, select the location to save these files and click OK. The download process begins...this may take some time depending on how many VMs you have in your environment. Since downtime is expected, schedule this to be done after business hours or during the weekend. The longest part is waiting for the VMs to finish downloading to your chosen location.

    Once you're ready to re-import the VMs, you can do the same thing except, when you're in the datastore, simply click on Upload icon (a Storage icon with a green arrow point up), choose Upload folder, and go to the location that you stored your VMs and click OK to begin uploading.

    This isn't an ideal way of doing it, but it's simple, it works, and you don't have to do any additional configuration. However, as Sinder255248 pointed out, you may want to look into VCB. You can look at vendors such as EsXpress (, Vizioncore (, and other 3rd party vendors that make use of your VCB license (if you have it or when you get it). This will stream line the backup and restore process. They'll do image and file level backups.

    Author Comment

    Aldach, i like this approch copy it off to another network drive then copy it back in.  Seems easiest.

    Question is, after copying back in, how to make ESXi see those servers in the list?  Or will it see them automatically?

    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    Setup Openfiler on a sparebox and attach via NFS or ISCSI.  Migrate the VMs over and connect back on a new box. - about 30 min to setup.
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution


    It won't see it automatically. You have to manually add each VM into the inventory list.

    After uploading all your VM folders, go into the datastore interface
    On the left column, click one of the VM folders (or double click the VM folder on the right column)
    On the right column, right click the .vmx file and select Add to Inventory
    Complete the Add to Inventory Wizard, and your VM is added to your list
    Repeat steps for remaining VMs

    Author Comment

    Excellent ThANK YOU!
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    You're welcome itmti.

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