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I'd like to create copies of the VMs located on my datastore that I can put up temporarily on a different server while I perform some maintenance on our main virtualization server.

Aside from using the Converter utility (which I don't believe I can use with the Linux machines) is there a way to make copies of these machines? It would make my life a lot easier.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can turn off the VM, then select File -> Export OVF Template, then export the template and deploy it somewhere else. To do this with minimal downtime is pretty hard using plain ESXi without the paid-for vSphere.

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This is the answer I was looking for, thanks for your help. – Windows Ninja Mar 16 '10 at 13:33

I shut off the VM, then use the VSphere server to copy the directory directly to another network share using the datastore browser. From memory I think it's in the resources tab,'s where you can see the size of your data store. You should be able to right click and find the browse function from there.

Once you put it on the other machine you should be able to add the machines from there, pointing to the machine directories.

It does take quite awhile to do and there are pay-for utilities to make it easier, but this poor-man's workaround has worked "well enough" for our needs. I use it periodically over the weekend to make copies of certain servers to a file repository and then 7-zip the directories for storage, then if something happens I should be able to decompress them and upload them back to the VMWare server.

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I also advise making backups of the virtual machine using a regular backup routine before doing anything experimental like this. I.e., if you have a VM, there's no reason you can't have a backup agent running to back up the files so that one restore option is to create a new VM and do a "virtual bare-metal restore" from your backup system... – Bart Silverstrim Mar 16 '10 at 13:16
The copy process can still introduce errors and issues due to network problems or CRC errors, you may get a corrupted image without knowing it until the time comes that you need to restore. Just something to keep in mind. – Bart Silverstrim Mar 16 '10 at 13:17
Yeah, I run backups on all my VMs so I'm covered if I need it, but I'd rather not have to restore anything from backup. We don't virtualize any of our production servers so anything lost isn't a huge deal, but I still don't want to have to go through setting them up all over again. Thanks for your help. We don't have the vSphere server so unfortunately that isn't an option, but I appreciate the effort. – Windows Ninja Mar 16 '10 at 13:33
Whoops, meant vsphere client. I'm using ESXi on a single VMWare server here...the place I copy from is selecting the VMWare server on the left panel, configuration tab, storage, right click the data store, "browse data store" – Bart Silverstrim Mar 16 '10 at 13:38

You can make backups over nfs of the running VMs using the ghettoVCB script, then restore them to the new ESxi Server after mounting the NFS share.

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