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Moving a Virtual Machine

Moving a Virtual Machine

What do you do if you have created a virtual machine using VMware Workstation and you want to move it to a different computer? Or even somewhere else on your host? The process is not difficult, and in most cases you can even move your virtual machine from a Windows host to a Linux host - or vice versa. Here's how.

Note: These instructions assume that you are using a virtual disk - stored in a set of .vmdk files on your host computer.

It's always safest to make backup copies of all the files in your virtual machine's folder (directory) before you start a process like this.

Virtual Machines Use Relative Paths

Virtual Machines Use Relative Paths

Before VMware Workstation 3.1, the path names for all files associated with a virtual machine were absolute, or fully qualified, meaning the complete route to the files on the host was stored. For example, the absolute path to a virtual disk file would be C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\My Documents\My Virtual Machines\<machine name>\<machine name>.vmdk.

With VMware Workstation 3.1 and higher, path names to files are relative, meaning the path to the each file is relative to the currently active folder (directory). For example, if you are in the virtual machine's directory, the relative path to the virtual disk file would be <machine name>.vmdk.

Note: You can still use absolute paths if you wish.

If you intend to move virtual machines created in a VMware product other than VMware Workstation 3.1 or higher (even VMware Workstation 3.0), see Moving an Older Virtual Machine.

Preparing your Virtual Machine for the Move

Preparing your Virtual Machine for the Move

  1. Shut down the guest operating system and power off the virtual machine. If the virtual machine is suspended and its virtual disks are in persistent or nonpersistent mode, resume it, then shut down the guest operating system.

  2. If your virtual machine is using disks in undoable mode, it is best to commit or discard the changes when the guest operating system shuts down. If you cannot commit or discard the changes to your disk, read Considerations for Moving Disks in Undoable Mode.

    Note: If your disks are using nonpersistent mode, you must also move the redo-log (.REDO) file to the new host computer. By default, it is located in your host operating system's temp directory.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • If you are moving the virtual machine to a new host and have a network connection between the original host machine and the new host, you are finished with the preparations on the original host. Otherwise, you need to have a way of moving the virtual disk (.vmdk) files from the virtual machine's directory to the new host. You could move them to a shared network directory, for example, or burn them to CD-ROMs if they are not too large.
Once you know how you are going to move the virtual machine, go to Moving a Virtual Machine to a New Host Machine.
    • If you are moving this virtual machine to another directory on this host, then you are ready to make the move. Copy all the files in the virtual machine's original directory to the new location. If you stored any files in directories other than the virtual machine directory, be sure to move them into a directory of the same name and same position relative to the location of the virtual machine.
Start VMware Workstation and open the new virtual machine you just created. Choose File > Open, then browse to the virtual machine's configuration file. The virtual machine is added to the Virtual Machine Name list in the Workstation window.
Moving a Virtual Machine to a New Host Machine

Moving a Virtual Machine to a New Host Machine

  1. Make sure VMware Workstation is installed and working correctly on the new host computer.

  2. Locate the virtual disk files you are moving and copy them into the new virtual machine directory. Be sure to copy all the files in the virtual machine's original directory. If you stored any files in directories other than the virtual machine directory, be sure to move them into a directory of the same name and same position relative to the location of the virtual machine.

    If, for some reason, you are not moving a file, make sure you do not have any relative or absolute paths pointing to file. Use the Configuration Editor and check to see if your virtual machine is pointing to the correct location for files you do not move.

    Also, check to see you do not have any absolute paths pointing to any files you are moving.

    To determine whether any files are using absolute or relative paths, use the Configuration Editor. Select each device. Also, look at the location of the redo-log file.

    Note: If your virtual machine is using disks in undoable mode, it is best to commit or discard the changes when the guest operating system shuts down. If you cannot commit or discard the changes to your disk, read Considerations for Moving Disks in Undoable Mode.

  3. Start VMware Workstation and open the new virtual machine you just created. Choose File > Open, then browse to the virtual machine's configuration file. The virtual machine is added to the Virtual Machine Name list in the Workstation window.

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