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ESXi Free Move Guest from one ESXi 5.0 server to another (using zeroedthick local datastores)

I have inherited a four host server production environment with 3 - 4 guests per server and need to rearrange the guests due to growing memory and CPU needs of more than one guest on some hosts to balance the resources out. The host is already at max RAM 8GB and one CPU dual cores.

I thought this process is meant to be simple and easy to perform with VM, however only if external shared storage for guests (vmdks) is in use but not this scenario.

So I have read various VMware guides and searched the web but have not found a matching scenario or clear answers to the questions each raise, hope someone knows more about free ESXi 5.0 and practical knowledge of moving vmdk's.

I have located the vmkfstools but is zeroedthick the same as Thick provision Lazy Zeroed?

I have also noted veeam fastscp may be faster, some notes say don't use vmkftools but use vCenter GUI tools but will the free version perform the guest moves without vMotion?

The target production task -  is to move a guest vm (windows server 2008 domain controller - two virtual drives) from one Dell SC440 Intel Xeon 3060 (same hardware or very similar) to another server. The host disks are RAID1 SATA drives. Teamed 1Gb nic cards.

Each production server has two/three virtual disks and the vmdks are stored in the single datastore1 held on each host ESXi server.
(Probably will be moving other servers around once this has been mastered)
The guests are backed up nightly via windows server backup to a NAS.
The Host and Guests are not regularly backed up although veeam backup has been installed and used when originally built. A veeam backup before production server moves will be completed.

First task is to test this out with a guest (windows 7) that is currently powered off and not vital.

Please can someone list out the method of migration best suited to this and any concerns/warnings I should be aware of in the process and resolve the following questions?

Also does the guest need to be on or off in the process?

If snapshots have been taken previously will this cause problems with the move or add additional steps?

Some suggest renaming the vmdk in the process but is this necessary and what about multiple virtual hard drives?

Should a copy be attempted rather than a move as a precautionary measure in case the new location guest fails to run?

Is this best run from the source / destination host or another computer?

Hope I have listed out all relevant info and questions.
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2 Solutions
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Snapshots will cause you issues, get rid of ALL the snapshots. I would not rename disks, why cause additional work for yourself.

see my Article and check if you have snapshots before you attempt anything

HOW TO: VMware Snapshots :- Be Patient

Before you do anything, make sure you have VALID BACKUPS for ALL your VMs.

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

The Guest can be ON, Veeam Backup and Replication will deal with Guest VMs which are ON. Just check you do have Licensed versions of ESXi. (otherwise Veeam will not function correctly).

See my EE Article and use the following:-

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

If you want to power the VMs OFF, and you can get downtime, you can use the COLD Migrate or Migrate function in vCenter Server, if you have it, Click the VM, and Select Migrate, and then select your Destination Host and Datastore.
I believe the most relevant part of the question is "ESXi Free" in the question subject.

While you get a very powerful, stable hypervisor with that version/edition, many of the management functions that exist in the paid-for & license versions just don't exist--including APIs for backup and live guest management.

If this is an environment based on the free version, then you won't be able to use Veeam to back up the VMs before moving them; Veeam only works with the licensed editions of the product because of the APIs involved.

If you're able to successfully use Veeam, then you have a licensed version, which also means you can manage them with vCenter. The larger portion of your Internet searches on the topic of relocating VMs presume vCenter and/or licensed hypervisors for this very reason.

If you could confirm the licensing status of your hosts, it will make giving you the appropriate answers much faster.
Here is a list of features not included with the free version o ESX 5.0 http://www.tech-tap.com/2012/01/04/how-to-license-the-free-vmware-vsphere-hypervisor/

You could try the following to move the VM'S
1) Highlight the VM and go File-> Export->ovf (The ovf format "should" retain the snapshots)
2) Once the export is complete ,use SCP to move the ovf file to the other server
3) On the target host import the ovf file
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How did you make out with this?
Tim_LazerAuthor Commented:
Hi, really sorry had to deal with some other issues first.
Yes it is a free version of ESxi so correct in the lack of certain functionality, Veeam only backs up shutdown guests.

I am back on this project this week so I will attempt the export to ovf and import and reply shortly.

I appreciate the help.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Tim_LazerAuthor Commented:

Thank you for your helpful replies in the end a friend and I figured out a way to use VMware vShere Client, Veeam Backup and FastSCP (if required)

Hope this helps others who read this.


the procedure followed is below

Shutdown the guest that is going to be moved
Open the VMware Client for the new host location
Right click the root datastore and add a new folder with the same name as the old location. (this is a limitation of the Veeam software under Win2k8)
In Veeam expand the old and new Hosts so that the folder structure is seen and the new folder that was created should also be present.
Locate the old location and click into the folder so that the files are shown in the right hand pane.
Select all the files and copy them (do not cut or drag them)
Locate the new location and paste the files into the right hand screen making sure that the folder is empty (not an existing guest) and the folder is the one you created.
The copy will then start with a screen showing the progress.
Once the copy has been completed open the VMware client for the new guest and right click the datastore and select browse Datastore.
Open the folder for the new guest and right click the VMX file and select Add to Inventory
This will open a wizard to add this guest to the host. Click OK to all the defaults. If the name of the folder does not represent the name of the server then change that in the wizard. Close the Datastore file manager.
The copied guest will then be displayed in the Inventory in a powered down state.
Start the guest
A message will pop up and ask how the guest got there.  I have always selected Copied it in the past and it worked here.
Once the guest is up and running and you are happy that it is OK then the old guest data can be deleted. (may leave until new guest tested and backed up again)
Right click the guest in the inventory and select remove from disk. This will delete the data and remove the entry form the inventory
This will also remove the entry from the Startup and Shutdown configuration so this will have to be amended on the new host as it will be allocated a manual startup and shutdown
Make sure only one active guest (that was copied)
If the guest files are not going to be deleted for a number of days make sure that the startup and shutdown entry is amended so that both guests do not come up together after a power outage.
Tim_LazerAuthor Commented:
Added my own comments as this is the solution used based on the first one plus my own additions

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