How to Remove Orphaned VM from vCenter [2 Ways]

Have you ever find that some of your virtual machine managed by vCenter are marked with “orphaned”? Do you know what does it mean and what causes it? This article will answer your questions and provide 2 ways to remove orphaned VM from vCenter.


By Crystal / Updated on February 2, 2023

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What is an orphaned VM

Sometimes you may find that some of your virtual machines managed by VMware vCenter Server are marked with an “orphaned” warning. What does this mean?

In vCenter Server, an orphaned virtual machine is one that disconnected from its host in some way. The “orphaned” status means that the VM remains exist in the vCenter Server database but is no longer present in the ESXi host inventory.

Orphaned VM

Causes of VMware orphaned VM

There are many reasons why a virtual machine becomes orphaned from the ESXi host. For example:

  • The virtual machine is removed from inventory when connected directly to ESXi Host instead of vCenter Server.
  • The virtual machine isn’t registered with the host or is wrongly registered elsewhere.
  • A Host Failover or DRS migration wasn’t successful.
  • Different people are working on the same VM infrastructure and configuration.
  • vCenter server or its database is restored from a backup or snapshot.

Orphaned virtual machine files are virtual hard disks, they stay as a part of the virtual infrastructure even when the VM they relate to has been deleted, and these orphaned files still use up disk space and resources even when the VM isn’t in use.

You are not able to start a virtual machine that is marked as orphaned. Therefore, if the orphaned VM still exists on disk, you can recover it. If not, you may need to remove orphaned VM from vCenter inventory. Next, this article will show you how to remove VMware orphaned VM from vCenter.

How to remove orphaned VM from vCenter

If you want to remove orphaned VM from vCenter, the simplest way is to remove it from inventory on vSphere web client. However, sometimes you may find the options is greyed out. In this case, you can remove orphaned VM from vCenter via PowerCLI.

Remove orphaned VM from vCenter via web client

1. Login to your vCenter Server by Administrator account.

2. Right-click on the VM marked as orphaned, and then select All Virtual Infrastructure Actions > More UnCategorized Actions > Remove from Inventory.

Remove from inventory

Remove orphaned VM from vCenter via PowerCLI

1. Launch Windows PowerCLI from the Start menu, and connect to the vCenter.

2. Use Get-VM cmdlet to see a list of all virtual machines within the program.

3. Use Remove-VM cmdlet to remove orphaned VM from vCenter PowerCLI. For example:

Remove-VM vmname -deletepermanently

Remove VM

Necessary data protection: Batch backup VMs managed by vCenter

You may already know that it is necessary to perform image-based backup of large amounts of VMs managed by vCenter Server, however, vCenter Server does not provide the feature of virtual machine backup. And that makes backup software a commonly accepted choice.

Here I introduce you to a VMware backup software AOMEI Cyber Backup, it enables you to backup multiple VMs either managed by vCenter Server, or on a standalone ESXi host.

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
Flexible vSphere Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, or network destinations like NAS.
Automated Execution: automate daily, weekly, or monthly backups and notified by email.
Restore Entire VM: restore instant available VMs from any selected restore points to an original or new location.

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions. Next, I will show you how to batch backup VMs managed by vCenter Server with AOMEI Cyber Backup in 4 simple steps.

You can click the following button to download the 30-day free trial.

Download Free trialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

4 Steps to batch backup VMs managed by vCenter Server

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click > Bind Device.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and select VMware ESXi Backup as the Backup Type.

3. Set the Task Name, Device, Target, Schedule and Cleanup as needed.

  • Task Name: you can change the task name or use the default name with an ordinal.
  • Device: batch select large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server for centralized backup.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path like NAS.
  • Schedule (optional): perform full, differential, or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.
  • Cleanup (optional): automatically delete the old backup copies that exceed the retention period you specified.

4. Run Backup: Now you can click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.

When restoring, you can also restore to new location to create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saving the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.


If you removed a VMware virtual machine from inventory when connected directly to ESXi host instead of vCenter Server, or you just wrongly registered it elsewhere, this VM may be marked as “orphaned”, and if you don’t need it anymore, you may want to remove orphaned VM from vCenter to avoid extra space-taken. This article showed you 2 ways to remove orphaned VM from vCenter.

In addition, regular backup plays an important role in VM data protection. If you backed up the virtual machine, you won’t need to worry about accidental deletion. AOMEI Cyber Backup is an effective VMware vSphere backup software that worth a try.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.