I have Windows Server 2003 installed on my server. I'd really like to be running it via VMWare EXSi as a virtual machine, but I don't what to have to reconfigure the whole deal.

Is there a relatively painless way to move it to a virtual machine? It will be staying on the same box with the exact same hardware... nothing changes.


2 Answers 2


VMware Converter. Free and easy.

You might install it on different machine than the win2k3 server and then point it at that one to convert. It definitely will help if the server and the ESXi box are on a fast network together (gigabit)

  • This is all in my home. Can I install it on a Win7 box and just point it to the server? I'm not totally sure how I'd go about doing this. Apr 2, 2010 at 5:25
  • Install and run it within the real server.
    – xenny
    Apr 2, 2010 at 8:42
  • If in doubt, read the docs. Apr 2, 2010 at 8:51

You want to take a currently configured system with Windows 2003 and install ESXi on the same hardware while moving the current W2K3 setup into a VM - right?

You won't be able to do this in one step but as Chris_K pointed out VMware Converter is the best tool to use for the conversion of the physical OS install to a Virtual Machine.

If I understand your specific requirements correctly then the way to do this is to build a temporary ESXi host with enough capacity to hold the Server temporarily. Then rebuild the main machine with ESXi and use converter again to do a Virtual to Virtual transfer of the VM back to the original server that is now running ESXi. You may even be able to use VMware Workstation or Player as the temporary target although I've never actually tried that, the Converter docs indicate that it is possible.

Note that you can resize volumes during a VMware Conversion, including the Windows System Volume and you can make use of thin provisioned disks so the temporary system can have less space available than the total volume sizes you want for the server once it's moved, you just have to able to provide a bit more space (a couple of GB should be safe enough) than the total amount of space that is actually currently in use.

  • Thanks, I'm going to check out the docs. There is one piece of hardware that is going to change, and that is the primary disk. So I can pull out the current OS disk and load up EXSi on the new disk. Apr 2, 2010 at 19:17

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