To transfer a virtual machine from one VMware ESXi server to another, you have several options :
To begin, you will need to enable the "TSM-SSH" service on the source and destination VMware ESXi server.
To do this, in the web interface of your VMware ESXi server, go to : Host -> Manage -> Services.
To transfer your virtual machine from one VMware ESXi server to another, you will need third-party software that supports SCP or SFTP.
This is the case with "WinSCP". In addition, this software is known and free.
Once WinSCP is installed, launch it and connect to the source VMware ESXi server.
To do this, specify :
Then, click on Login.
By default, WinSCP displays :
To find your virtual machine, you must first go to the "/vmfs/volumes" folder which contains the different datastores of your VMware ESXi server.
In our case, our virtual machine is in our "datastore1" database.
Note that the "datastore1" folder is a shortcut to one of the folders located just above and whose names are identifiers (UUID).
The easiest way is to double-click on the name of the datastore where your virtual machine is located.
In our case, we end up in the "60d9826f-7e0ec59f-bf1b-000c29450856" folder which corresponds to our "datastore1" datastore.
The virtual machine we want to transfer in our case is : Win 10 v2004 x64.
To be able to transfer your virtual machine without any problem, you will also need to connect to the destination VMware ESXi server.
To do this, click on the "New Session" tab and a new connection window will appear.
In this window, enter almost the same information, except :
Then, click on Login.
Now, you have 2 tabs where you are logged in as root.
The 1st tab for the source server and the 2nd tab for the destination one.
Again, go to "/vmfs/volumes" to find the datastores present on the destination server.
Then, go into the folder corresponding to the datastore on the destination server where you want to store this virtual machine.
In our case, it's again the "datastore1" datastore.
As you can see, in our case, the "datastore1" datastore of our destination server is empty at the moment.
Before copying the desired virtual machine, first copy the path of the remote server datastore to the Windows clipboard.
To do this, when you are in the datastore folder of the remote server (as in the image below), right-click in the empty space on the right side and click on "Copy Path to Clipboard".
Then, go to the 1st tab (which concerns your source VMware ESXi server) and right click "Duplicate" on the folder of the virtual machine to transfer.
In the "Duplicate" window that appears, select the destination server from the "Destination session" list.
Then, adapt the destination path by indicating :
Which gives in our case : /vmfs/volumes/60d98273-3753282d-e5e0-000c2960238d/Win 10 v2004 x64
Then, click OK.
By default, WinSCP will download the desired folder on your computer in a subfolder of the "%temp%" folder of Windows.
Then, WinSCP will send this copy back to the destination server.
This can take a long time and depends on : the size of your virtual machine (and especially its virtual hard disks), the speed of your local network, as well as the performance of your computer and the VMware ESXi server.
For those who are curious, open Windows File Explorer and type "%temp%" in the address bar.
In this folder, you will find a folder whose name begins with "scp".
If you open this folder, you will find a "vmfs" folder in our case.
In other words, WinSCP keeps the tree structure of the folder copied from its root.
What is really copied is therefore the sub-folder corresponding to the desired virtual machine (in our case : Win 10 v2004 x64) which is located in the "/vmfs/volumes/xxxxx-xxxxx-...." folder of the source server.
Once the download to this Windows temporary folder is complete, WinSCP will transfer this temporary copy from your computer to the destination server.
Again, this can take time and depends in particular on the size of this VM, as well as the performance of your network and the destination server.
Once the upload is complete, you will see that a copy of your virtual machine is now on your destination server.
And as expected, the content was copied correctly.
Although the virtual machine is in the datastore of the destination server, it doesn't automatically appear in the list of your virtual machines.
Indeed, for that, you must register it on your server. Or add it to inventory, as it was called with VMware ESXi 5.
There are 2 possibilities for this, but in our case, we will go through the datastore browser accessible in the "Storage" section.
Go to the datastore where you transferred your virtual machine, then double-click on the virtual machine's folder.
In the folder of your virtual machine, you will find its configuration file in ".vmx" format.
Right click "Register VM" on it, then close that datastore browser.
The " VM [datastore name] [VM name]/[vm configuration file name].vmx successfully registered" message appears.
Now, this virtual machine appears on your destination VMware ESXi server.
Warning : before starting this one, IF the 2 VMware ESXi servers are on the same network, make sure not to simultaneously launch this same virtual machine on the source server and the destination server.
Indeed, you might encounter conflicts of IP addresses, NETBIOS names, ...
If you are sure that this will not be a problem in your case, then you can start it by clicking on : Power on.
When it starts for the first time, your VMware ESXi hypervisor will ask you if you have copied or moved this virtual machine.
To avoid problems, it's recommended to select "I Copied It".
However, if you know what you are doing and the MAC address set on this virtual machine's network adapter is important, select "I Moved It". Otherwise, it may change.
As expected, the manually copied virtual machine starts.
And it works without any problem.
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