What Is vCenter Live Migration and How to Perform It

If you want to migrate your workload from one server to another with zero downtime, live migration is exactly what you are looking for. vSphere provides the vMotion feature for you to migrate running virtual machines between servers. Next, this article will show you the detailed steps to perform vCenter live migrations.


By Crystal / Updated on March 21, 2023

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What is live migration of virtual machines

Your team may have migrated businesses to a virtual environment, just like other organizations and enterprises. Virtualization have obviously changed the way enterprises build infrastructure and manage resources. You can centrally manage multiple virtual machines that installed with different guest operating systems on one single hardware, or easily migrate your workloads from one server to another, without downtime.

Live migration of virtual machines

The process of moving a running virtual machine or application between different physical machines without disconnecting the client is called live migration. It is an effective measure to help maintain 24/7 businesses.

VMware vSphere provides the vMotion feature that enables zero-downtime, live migration of workloads from one server to another so your users can continue to access the systems they need to stay productive. Enabling this feature, you can easily perform live migration of virtual machines between vCenter by following the intuitive wizard.

Next, this article will show you how to perform vCenter live migration using vMotion.

How to perform vCenter live migration using vMotion

Next in this section, you will see the specific steps to perform vCenter live migration using vMotion. Before you start, please make sure your source and destination vCenter Server instances and ESXi hosts are running 6.0 or later versions, and have an Enterprise Plus license.

1. Log in vSphere Client and right-click on the target virtual machine from the left inventory, select Migrate…


2. It will pop up a wizard. On Select a migration type page, select Cross vCenter Server export option and click Next to continue.

Select a migration type

3. On Select a target vCenter Server page, provide the vCenter Server address and password information of the target vCenter Server.

Select a target vCenter Server

4. On Select a compute resource page, select a cluster, host, vApp or resource pool to run the virtual machines. Remember to check Compatibility from the below box and click NEXT to continue.

Select a compute resource

5. On Select storage page, select the destination storage for the virtual machine migration.

Select storage

6. On Select folder page, select the destination virtual machine folder for the virtual machine migration.

Select folder

7. On Select networks page, select destination networks for the virtual machine migration.

Select networks

8. On Select vMotion priority page, there are 2 options provided to protect the performance of your running virtual machines by prioritizing the allocation of CPU resources.

  • Schedule vMotion with high priority (recommended): vMotion receives higher CPU scheduling preference relative to normal priority migrations vMotion might complete more quickly.
  • Schedule normal vMotion options to protect: vMotion receives lower CPU scheduling preference relative to high priority migrations. You can extend vMotion duration.

Select vMotion priority

9. Click NEXT to Ready to complete page, verify that the information is correct and click FINISH to start the migration.

Ready to complete

Batch backup VMs managed by vCenter Server

If you think the licensing fee that vMotion costs is expensive, and zero downtime isn’t that important to you, then perhaps virtual machine backup is enough for your disaster recovery needs. For example, backup the running virtual machines and restore to another host.

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

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for running VMware ESXi 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 a local drive, or network destinations like NAS.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, or monthly.
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 3 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 vCenter VMs and restore to another location

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.


Live migration is an important feature in virtualization. It offers the ability to perform migration and maintenance of hosts simultaneously, minimizing the downtime and maximizing business continuity. vSphere provides an effective feature vMotion to help you complete this progress faster and easier. This article showed you a detailed VMware vMotion step by step guide to help you migrate VM to another vCenter.

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.