Moving VMs from one ESXi host to another ESXi host

Every technologist needs a lab environment! I’ve been running ESXi 5.0 on a HP Proliant ML110 G4 for a number of years as VMWare kindly offer a free licence for single socket servers, and I recently acquired a Dell Poweredge T20 server with more cores and more memory so I took the opportunity to install ESXi 6.0. ESXi installs are straightforward – almost a pleasure! – but copying my existing VMs across – because of their size – was more of a challenge without the benefits of shared storage. Copying them was when I found that not all the virtual discs were thin provisioned!

Incidentally, I fretted about whether I’d run into problems installing ESXi 6.0 on a Dell Poweredge T20 server as it wasn’t on the VMWare supported listed. The forums were fairly quiet on the matter, but – as it is a lab – I went ahead, and it was successful.

The options for copying the VMs I found were:

1. Download the VM files to a PC from the original ESXi server, and then upload them to the new ESXi server.
2. Use something like the Veeam Backup tool  – I did download this, but had problems with the ISO on my Windows 10 PC.
3. Using something like the VMWare Converter, or ovftool

One issue I found with Windows Server VMs, after moving them from host to host as files, is that the licenses would need occasionally activating again.

Once I’d transferred all the VMs across to the new Poweredge T20 server, I used the USB media to install ESXi 6.0 on the ML110 G4 successfully.