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I've had trouble exporting VMs, renaming them and importing them back into my inventory. What is the best way to do this inside vSphere Client? I am using vSphere Hypervisor version 4.1. Thanks.

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I am assuming you are using the free hypervisor from VMware.

Cloning of a VM or creating an identical copy the VM is a feature of vCenter server. Out of the box the free hypervisor version does not support cloning. If you need that feature I would suggest you buy the vCenter server license.

That said, the closest and easiest you can get with the free VMware hypervisor is as already mentioned by you:

  • Export the VM as an OVF and re-import it with a changed name.

The other option is not so straight forward:

  1. Create a new VM of with same virtual hardware, virtual disk size and any other configurations that you may have.

  2. Enable the Technical Support Mode, Read this KB article for more details:

  3. SSH to the ESXi server & browse to the datastore where the new VM is stored.

  4. Delete the VMDK file using the rm command

  5. Use vmksfstools to create a clone of the original VM's virtual disk. Read this KB article for more details:

  6. Go back to the inventory in vSphere client and power on the new VM.
  7. Logon to the new VM and manually perform any guest customization (change hostname, SID etc.) if required.
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Welcome to Server Fault! VMware is a company which make several virtualization products. Please specify the product instead. (ESXi?) – Bart De Vos May 25 '11 at 15:39
Yes, I am using ESXi as seen in my tags. – O_O May 25 '11 at 19:42

What you're asking to do is typically achieved via cloning or templating depending on how often you want to do this and to what end goal.

Cloning is useful, but I find that I'm almost always reaching for the Snapshot Manager instead. Perhaps creating a Webserver cluster? I haven't really found a real practical use for cloning, but I'm sure others will chime in.

Templating on the other hand is great: you can, for example, build a baseline Windows 2008 R2 machine install all your service packs, flip it back to a template, and keep it around for all your future virtual machines.

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