By Crystal / Last Updated April 26, 2022

When you need to export VM from ESXi

Exporting virtual machine is an efficient feature of VMware that contributes to data migration or virtual machine backup. For ESXi backup solution, exporting virtual machine to OVF template is common used in ESXi. An OVF template captures the state of a virtual machine or virtual appliance into a self-contained package. The disk files are stored in a compressed, sparse format. The file extension of OVF Package is .ovf.

Besides exporting VM to OVF template, you can also export a virtual machine from ESXi command line.

export vm from vmware esxi

How to export VM to OVF template from ESXi

In this section, I will introduce the detailed procedures based on ESXi 6.7 to export virtual machine. If you want to export VM from vSphere client, you can also refer to these steps.

1. Log in ESXi 6.7 by entering User name and IP address. Shut down the virtual machine you plan to export.

2. Right-click the VM and select Export. When exporting a virtual mchine, it cannot export snapshot in VMware. So if you want to export snapshot from virtual machine, you can copy the VM files to register a new VM.

export vm to OVF template

3. In the open wizard, select the related files such as .ovf, .vmdk and .mf. Click OK.

4. Specify a destination to store the files.

5. Check the local path and exported files.

How to import virtual machine in ESXi

After finishing exporting virtual machine from ESXi, you can create an identical virtual machine easily by importing the file.

1. Click Create/Register VM.

2. On Select creation type page, choose Deploy a virtual machine from an OVF or OVA template. Click Next.

import VMware VM

3. Type a name for virtual machine, and then select the exported .ovf and .vmdk files. Click Next.

Export and import VM from ESXi command line

If you are familiar with using Command Line and want to export large amounts of virtual machines to OVF or OVA template, you can create a useful script to perform the procedures.

1. Download OVF tool from the VMware website and run it.

2. Open CMD. Find the path of the OVF tool.          

ovftool.exe vi//ESXi IP /VM name “folder location to save OVF”

export vm from command line

3. Type ESXi username and password, then press Enter. Then it will start exporting virtual machine, and you can check the process in ESXi Task.

4. After the transferring process is completed successfully, you can check it in the destination folder.

exported files

5. You can also use ESXi command line to import .ovf files to create a VM.

Type the path of ovf tool and ovf.exe -ds=datastore name -dm=storage type -n=VM name “location of OVF file”vi://ESXi host IP.

import vm

6.Type ESXi username and password. Press Enter.

Is there another backup method for VM protection

In additional to export, there are various VMware backup solution such as clone VM, copy VM files, migrate VM or third-party software. Most of them belongs to cold backup and requires to operate it manually.

For large amounts of VMs, manual operation seems to be complicated and time-wasting, especaiily for enterprises. In order to achieve automatic backup and simplify VM management, a professional backup software is necessary.

AOMEI Cyber Backup automates virtual machine backup and facilitates the backup and recovery procedures without any downtime.

Automatic Backup: Schedule the backup task and run it automatically.
Easy to use: Backup and restore virtual machines within several clicks, no need to install agent or configure complicated settings.
Hot Backup: Perform VMware hot backups in real-time even when the virtual machines are running.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi 6.0 & later versions
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Easier steps to backup ESXi virtual machine

1. Install AOMEI Cyber Backup and access to Backup task.

2. In Create New Task wizard, select one or more VMs, then choose the target location as local or network to store VM.

VMware  ESXi backup

3. Specify the backup strategies such as full/incremental/differential backup and select the time as daily/weekly/monthly (by date)/monthly (by week). You can combine these features to create a perfect backup.

schedule VM backup

4. Select retention policy for each backup that helps to delete the old and unwanted backup files automatically to free up storage.

backup cleanup

5. If the original VM corrupts, you can click Restore to perform instant disaster recovery to original or even new host.

restore vityual machine


Exporting VM from ESXi is one of the backup methods. If you want to backup ESXi VMs efficiently, try to schedule the backup tasks. Meanwhile, you are in Hyper-V environment, it is still accessible for comprehensive Hyper-V backup.