I have two VMWare ESXI 5 hosts and I want to move a 2 TB .vmdk file from one to another. I tried downloading the file via vSphere Client to upload it to the other host via vSphere Client, but it seems that it would take a week or more!

I tried scp command and the speed was not bad, actually 30 MB/s, but the operation broke after a while.

Is there any way to split that 2 TB file into smaller files, so that I can transfer it easier? Or is there a better solution to transfer it?

  • Do you have any details on where the servers are in relation to each other? What version(s) of ESXi are involved? Is this free ESXi, or do you have a license for vSphere? – ewwhite Oct 17 '14 at 15:16
  • Is your network 1Gbps, 10Gbps, two bonded links, etc? Have you tried a temporary, dedicated link between the two hosts? Keep in mind that the Disk I/O & Network I/O from the other VMs on this same host will be competing for resources with your data transfer, which will slow down your data transfer. – Stefan Lasiewski Oct 17 '14 at 15:26
  • Both hosts are located in the same data center and I have a 1 Gbps port attached to both. The disk and network I/O are almost zero before transferring (no guest running). – Ali Hashemi Oct 17 '14 at 15:38
  • I asked a related question here, that might be of value. The ovftool suggested in the accepted answer was pretty damn awesome. – HopelessN00b Oct 17 '14 at 20:12

The best generic approaches are:

  • Export the VM as an OVF file, move to a local system, then reimport the OVF to your ESXi destination.
  • Use vSphere and perform a host/storage migration.
  • Leverage one of Veeam's free products to handle the ad hoc move.

Solutions like rsync or scp will be rate-limited and have no knowledge of the content (e.g. sparse VMDK files, thin-provisioned volumes, etc.)

Also see:

Move VMware ESXi VM to new datastore - preserve thin-provisioning

How to export a VMware ESXi 5 VM into a file to restore it later?


Similar situation here (though my file sizes were more in the 100's of gb). SFTP works a treat - filezilla is saying around 9mib/s. Tried with the datastore browser but that seemed to die at 4gb of transfers.

I already had ssh enabled, which by default may also have allowed the sftp function without any further config. Maybe - all I know is IMHO SFTP is the way to go - for both size and speed .


I have had success using http://www.veeam.com/virtual-machine-backup-solution-free.html

It's a lot faster than a datastore copy and paste in the infrastructure client.

  • 3
    This was already mentioned in ewwhite's answer! – Michael Hampton Oct 17 '14 at 22:51

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