Transfer VMs between servers – ESXi

In this post, I’ve presented you with a list of hypervisors that I’m using on daily basis. Now I’m going to show you a problem that I’ve encountered working with one of them.

We have one VMware ESXi called server1 in production and one new freshly installed called server2. None of them have a paid license, both are using the VMware free versions. Being a local install there is no shared storage.

From the interface, on our virtual machines, we have an export button that will generate the necessary files to add our appliance to server2. The issue that I’ve been experimenting is that for a larger VM the download is interrupted with Network Error.

So what can we do in this situation? The solution I’ve found is a tool available from VMware that is called Open Virtualization Format Tool (ovftool). It can be downloaded from this link. At he moment of this post, 4.4.0 is the latest version. I recommend using the last update available in order to use it with higher versions of VMware.

After install you must open a command prompt/terminal and use the following command. In my case I was on a Windows installation.

ovftool.exe -ds=datastore vi://[email protected]/vm-to-move vi://[email protected]/ 


datastore = is the name of your VMware datastore

root = the root account on the server or the user that has access to export/create VMs

server1 = is the server that we want to export the machine from

server2 = is the server that we need to import the machine into

vm-to-move = is the VM name that needs to be moved

After this command you will be prompter to type the account passwords from both servers.

Hope this will help you!