As I've bought a server it had a RAID controlleer which was not supported by VMWare ESXi 5, so I had to install it in a bare non-RAID configuration. Now as I've bought a supported RAID controller I am going to install it and, reconfigure all the attached HDDs as a new RAID 1+0 array and reinstall VMWare ESXi 5. I would need to restore all the VMs then. To do this I'd like to save all the VMs onto an USB-attached (to the server or to my gigabit-connected laptop - whatever is easier). How can I achieve this? How to export a VM image to a file?

PS: VMWare ESXi Server and vSphere Client are both 5.0.0, the license is trial (which, as far as I understand, is supposed to provide full set of features including guest migration).


2 Answers 2


There are a number of ways to do this. The following is a non-exhaustive list:

  1. Use WinSCP to copy it.

  2. Use Veeam FastSCP to copy it.

  3. Use Trilead VM Explorere to copy it.

  4. Browse the datastore and copy it directly.

  5. Etc., etc.


In your question you state that you want to export the VM but what you're really asking is how you can get it onto temporary storage so that you can rebuild the host. I didn't include the OVF export option in my answer as ewwhite did in his answer, but that is in fact another way to accomplish this.


I prefer the OVF approach in some cases.

File -> Export -> Export OVF template

This is also detailed here: Move VMware ESXi VM to new datastore - preserve thin-provisioning

  • I don't know what is thin-provisioning (would be glad if you could tell). What would be the difference with the case if I just copy the VM folder from-to the storage?
    – Ivan
    Aug 21, 2012 at 17:14
  • 1
    Thin provisioning - But in this case, you CAN export the VM to adisk attached to the vSphere client machine and reimport it. OVF is a format that offers some level of portability for virtual machines. So it's a safe process.
    – ewwhite
    Aug 21, 2012 at 17:23
  • Another interesting question is whether or not will snapshots be saved in an OVF file? I'd like to keep them.
    – Ivan
    Aug 21, 2012 at 19:09

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