Moving VMs from ESX to Workstation

There are a few ways to migrate VMs around between VMware products including using vCenter Converter, 3rd party tools, and O/S tools (backup/restore) but one of the easiest ways is via the Datastore Browse utility.

I leveraged it a few posts back to move VMs around without vCenter (including vCenter) but here is a quick way to use it to export VMs to run under Workstation.

Step 1 – Open a vSphere client and shut down the VM you want to copy

Step 2 – Right-click on the datastore the VM resides on and select Browse Datastore

Step 3 – Highlight the VM directory on the left and hit the ‘Download” icon in the toolbar

Step 4 – Locate the location on your local machine to copy the VM to and hit ‘ok”

Step 5 – Hit Ok to acknowledge the overwrite message

Step 6 – Monitor the copy window

Step 7 – Launch VMware Workstation, and choose File/Open from the menu

Step 8 – Locate the vmx file for the downloaded VM and click Open

Step 9 – Check the VM settings and make sure your system can handle it (primarily CPU/memory)

Step 10 – Power on the VM. Leave “I copied it” selected which will create a new VMware ID for the VM and hit OK.

Step 11 – You may get a message depending on the OS and hardware configuration. Since you moved an existing, running VM you should have the drivers you need. Hit OK.

Step 12 – Enjoy the goodness of a copied VM.

Leave a comment for questions, suggestions, snark, whatever.

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6 Responses to Moving VMs from ESX to Workstation

  1. frank says:


  2. clcin says:

    Thanks for the share man . . .

  3. vlad says:

    Thanks man!

  4. Magesh says:

    Thanks for share man

  5. Toodles says:

    Thanks indeed!

  6. Doug Gougenheim says:

    While this works, it gives limited options…for example, if you have thin-provisioned disks, that are only using 10GB, but provisioned for something larger, when copying from the data store, you end up with a file size of the provisioned size. Using the vCenter standalone converter seems to be a better option imo.

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