By Crystal / Last Updated April 26, 2022

Why back up VM to another datastore in VMware?

There are generally 2 cases to backup or migrate a VMware VM to another datastore:

Case 1: I will be running some experimental tests on one of my Virtual Machines in the coming week. I would like to know the best method for backing up the VM in ESXi. In the case that the experiments fail and the OS bombs out I would need to restore ASAP with little to no configuration.

Datastores are used to hold virtual machine files, templates and ISOs. If you are taking some dangerous experiments on VM, copying or cloning a VM to another datastore could help you to recover your VM data completely and quickly in case of unpredictable events.

Case 2: My current virtual machine is running out of its storage, but I don’t want to delete it, what should I do?

When the current datastore lacks of storage capacity or based on the needs of your business, migrating your VM to another datastore allows you to utilize the disk space and protect the VM data better.


In a nutshell, backing up a VM to another datastore in VMware benefits to data migration, data protection and disaster recovery. So how to achieve the necessary backup for VMs?

Generally, you need to access to vCenter for backup or migration to another datastore. But if vCenter is unavailable to you, what should you do to complete the backup?

This article explains how to back up a VM to another datastore whether you installed vCenter or not.

Back up a VM to another datastore via vCenter

If you are available to vCenter, you could migrate and clone VM simply. This part introduces how to back up a VM to another datastore within vCenter. During these processes, depending on the size of the VM files, backup or migration can take a long time to complete it.

How to migrate VM to another datastore

Moving a VM to another datastore contributes to reducing the burden of storage and utilize the virtual disk space. You could move VMs from one datastore to another datastore according to the needs of your business.

Steps to migrate a VM to another datastore:

1. Log in to VMware vSphere web client and shut down the VM you want to migrate.

2. Navigate to Datastores, and select a VM you want to migrate.

3. Right-click and select Migrate.

4. In the Select the migration type list, select Change storage only, and click Next.

It means to move a virtual machine and its storage, including virtual disks, configuration files, or a combination of these, to a new datastore on the same host.

migrate vm

5. In the Select storage list, select Same format as source (use the same format as the source VM), and Keep existing VM storage policies from the VM Storage Policy drop-down menu, then choose a destination datastore you want, and click Next.

Note: Storage policies specify storage requirements for applications that run on the virtual machine.

migrate vm

6. In Ready to complete list, confirm that the information is correct and click Finish.

Then you could see that a VM is transferred into another datastore securely.

How to clone VM to another datastore

Cloning a virtual machine into a different datastore, you will create a new same VM as the original one in another datastore. It helps you to protect the VM from interruption or data loss when errors occur to the original VM or datastore.

Steps to clone a VM to another datastore:

1. Navigate to Datastores, and select a VM you want to clone.

2. Right-click and select Clone, and click Clone to virtual machine to open the wizard.

clone vm

3. In Edit settings page, 4 steps needed to perform.

Select a name and folder: Enter a name of VM within 80 characters and select a destination datastore folder according to your need, then click Next.

Select a computer resource: select a host to run the VM and click Next.

Note: When you deploy a virtual machine, you select a host, cluster or resource pool for the virtual machine to run in. This virtual machine will have access to the resources of the selected object.

Select storage: select Same format as source > Keep existing VM storage> select a datastore you want to clone the VM to> click Next.

Select clone option: Customize the operating system> Power on virtual machine after creation> click Next.

4. Ready to complete: confirm the information is correct and click Finish.

clone vm

How to copy VM to another datastore without vCenter

Q: Is it possible to backup a virtual machine to another datastore without vCenter?

A: Absolutely possible! Here are some tips for you to copy a VM to datastore quite simply and easily, when vCenter isn’t available to you.

Steps to copy a VM to another datastore without vCenter:

1. Go into your Datastores.

2. Click on a datastore you want to choose, and select Datastore Browser.

copy vm

3. Navigate to the destination datastore, click Create directory to enter a name.

copy vm

4. Back to the folder you want copy, click the VM folder and find the .vmdk and .vmx files, select Copy.

copy vm to another datastore without vcenter

5. Select the destination datastore, copy the files into the new directory you created before and click Copy.

6. You could check it whether the copy is successful or not in the Recent Task list.

How to register the VM to run on the datastore

Till now, you finish the process of copying a VM into another datastore. So how could you register the VM?

1. After the files are copied to the new directory, Click Create/Register VM.

register vm

2. In New virtual machine section, select Register an existing virtual machine and click Next.

register vm

3. Navigate to the existing directory you create, select the .vmx file and click Next.

register vm

4. Confirm the information and click Finish.

5. When you finish all the process, you could get an VM named with .vmx file. Then right-click the VM and Rename it.

If you want to backup VMware datastore,  you will create a full copy of virtual machine files, templates, and ISO images.

How to utilize AOMEI Cyber Backup for VMware backup

All method mentioned above only allows to back up one virtual machine to another datastore for one time. However, if you owns multiple virtual machines and do not want to perform a complicated VMware backup process, what should you do?

AOMEI Cyber Backup provides a convenient and reliable backup solution to simplify VM management and protect data security. It is friendly to newly users to create an automated backup task for numerous VMs within a few clicks. This software can set up retention policy to remove the old backup files as you want which saves costs of storage and time.

In the following part, I will explain the detailed steps to back up virtual machines simply and efficiently using ACB.

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Steps to back up VM with AOMEI Cyber Backup

1. Download AOMEI Cyber Backup and enter the required information to add devices successfully. Click Confirm.  You don’t need to install any agent or perform complex configuration.

Note: When your devices have reached to the limit of backup software, you can upgrade it to accommodate unlimited device.

2. Click Backup Task >> Create New Task.

create vm backup

3. In the open window, enter a task name and choose one or more virtual machines you want to back up.

VM backup

4. Select a location for backups, and click OK.

☞ Create a new local path: choose to store the backups to the local system.

☞ Create a new network path: enter the network address first, then type user name and password for authentication, then go to select a network location directory.

backup target

5. Set up Backup Schedule. You can set up the backup task once or create a scheduled task.

☞Enable backup schedule

☞Choose backup scheme: full backup, incremental backup, differential backup.

You can combine full backup, incremental or differential backup according to your need, which is extremely convenient and reduces your workload directly. Different backup methods are marked by different colors.

☞Set up the backup time period: daily, weekly, monthly (by week), monthly (by data).

schedule backup

6. Set up the Backup Cleanup to free up the disk space.

ACB will automatically delete the unwanted and older backup files according to your configuration and remain the newly and useful backups. It’s no need to worry about insufficient storage space and expensive cost for storage.

bakcup cleanup

7. Click Start Backup: you can choose to add the schedueld backup and run it immeditely or only add the task and run it later.

backupVM later

Meanwhile, you can restore the backup to anther datastore quickly and securely when you want to perform data migration.


In production environment, you create an incredible amount of data every day, all of which must be stored into virtual disk. So, in this article, it explains how to back up virtual machines to another datastore for saving storage in VMware.

With AOMEI Cyber Backup, it prevents virtual machine from data loss and waste of storage. At the same time, you can also perform Hyper-V backup easily by using this software.