Backup or Migrate a VM to Another Datastore in VMware

Backing up a vm to another datastore is a common method to protect data. This article includes the common scenarios to do so, and provides the detailed steps to backup or migrate VM to another datastore.


By Crystal / Updated on April 16, 2024

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2 cases to backup VM to another datastore in VMware

There are generally 2 cases to back up 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 VMware, backup VM to another datastore facilitates data migration, data protection and disaster recovery. So, how to achieve it exactly?

Generally, you need to access to vCenter for backup or migration to another datastore. But if vCenter is unavailable to you, there are also some alternatives. This article explains how to backup VM to another datastore whether you installed vCenter or not.

Migrate and clone a VM to another datastore via vCenter (2 ways)

If you are available to vCenter, there are 2 ways for you to back up a VM to another datastore simply by migrating and cloning VM. Depending on the size of the VM, the process of migration or cloning may take a long time to complete it.

Way 1. 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.

Way 2. 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

Backup VM to another datastore without vCenter (2 ways)

Is it possible to move VM from one datastore to another without vCenter? The answer is yes. Here are some tips for you to copy VM to another datastore quite simply and easily, when vCenter isn’t available to you.

First, you can copy VM files from a datastore and register it to the new datastore. If you want an easier way without complex configuration, you can also try creating VMware backup, and create an new identical VM from it directly.

Way 1. Copy VM files to another datastore manually

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 to 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.

Register the VM to run on the datastore

After you copy VM to another datastore, you still need to 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.

Way 2. Backup VMs and restore to another datastore (easier)

The second way to move VM from one vCenter to another is to clone VM from created backups. The benefit of this, in addition to simplicity, is that it allows you to back up multiple virtual machines at once without vCenter.

AOMEI Cyber Backup provides a cost-effective and reliable backup and restore solution for VMware virtual machines. It simplifies VM backup and management. With it intuitive interface, you can easily back up and restore numerous VMs with simple clicks.

If you use the free VMware ESXi without vCenter Server, your options for VM backup and restore may be limited by not supporting vStorage APIs. Don't worry, AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both the paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.

Auto backup & retention policy - Run VM backups automatically that greatly reduce human errors, and simplify VM backup and management.
Batch VM backup - Backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or on a standalone ESXi host and notified by email.
Restore fast - Easily restore a VM to another datastore or host without any complicated configuration.

In the following part, I will explain the detailed steps to back up unlimited virtual machines simply and efficiently with AOMEI Cyber Backup. Please download and install the agentless backup software – AOMEI Cyber Backup. Here’s a 30-day free trial you can try out:

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system. For a quick walkthrough, please watch the video.

💡 How to backup VM to another datastore in VMware [detailed steps]:

1. Download AOMEI Cyber Backup and enter the required information to add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host as the source device. You don’t need to install any agent or perform complex configuration.

add VMware device

2. Click Backup Task > Create New Task.

create vm backup

3. In the open window, configure the following settings to create VMWare VMs backup which can be restored to another datastore easily.

  • Enter a task name and choose one or more virtual machines for backup.

Select virtual machines on vCenter

  • Select a location for backups. You can specify a local location or network location.

backup target

  • Set up Backup Schedule. You can set up the backup task once or schedule a daily/weekly/monthly task. Combine full backup, incremental or differential backup according to your need, which is extremely convenient and reduces your workload directly.

schedule backup

  • Set up the Backup Cleanup to free up the disk space. This software can set up retention policy to remove the old backup files as you want, which saves costs of storage and time.

bakcup cleanup

  • Click Start Backup: you can choose to add the scheduled backup and run it immediately, or only add the task and run it later.

backupVM later

4. After creating VM backups, you can easily hit Restore to recover a virtual machine to another datastore or even to another host.

  • Select the VM backup and choose Restore to a new location.
  • Specify the target host and datastore as you want.
  • Name the new VM. You can also set its RAM and Virtual Processor.

restore VM to new location

This is how you backup VM to another datastore via AOMEI Cyber Backup quickly and securely.


In a 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, you can backup VMware datastore, migrate VM to another datastore in VMware or even another host, prevents virtual machine from data loss and waste of storage, etc. At the same time, you can also perform Hyper-V backup easily by using this software.

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.