How to move a VM from 1 Dell server to another.

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Virtualization platforms
Ok let's first state up front I am not the system administrator, the police have him in lockup. There is an immediate need to more two VM instances from a Dell PowerEdge 1800 to another Dell. The two are a web-server and an Exchange 2003 - Windows Server. My plan was simple (at least I thought so). I was first going to stop the VM server supporting the web server. Second I was then going to copy the directory housing the VM data on the D-drive to a removable hard-drive. I would then connect the drive to the other platform and copy down the VM data to it. I would then use the VM console and create a VM on the new platform pointing to the just downloaded data. Now I thought this was going to be a piece of cake and was thinking now bad for a DBA. However, when I go to copy the 10GB .vmdk file I get the following error: "Cannot copy other Linux 2.6.x kernel-flat.vmdk. The parameter is incorrect." One last thing I guess is important, each server's OS is window's based. We are located in an area where VM is an unknown item. This makes it difficult to replace the system administrator, who the law reached out over this past weekend leaving just me to try to do this. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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Hi there,

Not sure if you got around to solving this problem or not, but I had one of our experts look at your question.

His response was:

> What is the file system of the portable drive? Does it support files
> up to 10GB in size? Your best bet is to use a utility like 7-zip (free
> download) to splice the file up into smaller chunks and transport it
> that way.

Don’t forget, you can always ask questions at Ask the Expert at


Hannah Drake
Associate Editor
OK, so you are having a very bad week.

What version of VMWare are you using? Sounds like VMWare Server on Windows 2003? Is that correct?

Your approach “should” work fine. How are you trying to copy the file? At a command prompt or in Windows?

When you create the new VM on the new machine you should have a couple of options.

1. You can create it with a new empty hard disk, and then overwrite the file with the file from the other VM Server.
2. You can create it with the existing file.

Either method should work.

Do you know if your company has support from VMWare? There support is excellent and can help you with this. If you don’t know if you have support give them a call anyway. I’m sure that they can help you figure out if you have a support agreement with them.

Added 12.12.07 by spadasoe:

You need to access the VM server console.
I would look at the original VM and check the settings. If it is set to run as a service so that it always starts up when the host server starts, you will need to change it . Stop the VM, go to edit virtual machine settings in the console, check the options tab/startup options. Set it to user powers on. Now try and copy the folder. I also would recommend not runnig from external storage. If the VM is set to dynamic for the disk, you may find you are out of disk space. Make sure the server you move it to has plenty of space. In the console check hadr disk capacity settings. You should see max settings there.
Hope this helps.


Simplest option

Use the free verison of convertor (standard edition)from VMWARE, convert from the old machine and import into new machine over the network, this has worked for me in the past, ensure the VM is powered down. it is a simple tool and easy to use, download the operating system version and not the cd installer, install onto your host which has VM server installed and run. rest you will find easy and self explanatory. (watch permissions on target system)

hope this helps


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  • HerbnetVM
    Mrdenny: You are correct on the OS as being Windows Server 2003. I was going to try WINSCP that I found a discussion on, but cannot since secure shell is not loaded on the Windows Servers. The VM Server Console is 1.0.2 Build 39867. As for copying, I have tried Window's Explorer dragging the files to the removable drive. All the files moved except for the 10GB one and I get the error I mentioned above. As for creating I am planning to use the console to create a new VM on the other server using the files I obtained from the old server (okay once I finally get the big boy copied). The VM operations have been established via the opensource community, so I don't think VMware will give me any assistance other than helping me spend non-existing money for a service contract. spasasoe: I changed the startup under the options tab to not startup when the host is powered on. I try to copy as I described in my note to Mrdenny, but still get the same error. I have no plans to used the external drive other than moving the VM files from server to server. There is over 200GB of free disk on the new server. The VMs I want to move use less than 70GB and are not set to dynamic. So I still am not able to copy the 10GB file. Are there any Santa's out there with a solution in their bags?
    15 pointsBadges:
  • Jerry Lees
    You should be able to re-create the VM on teh other box and move the .vmdk file to the new server and attach it as a Hard drive with the "existing" virtual drive option. Just be sure (because it's best to, not becasue it's required) to copy the hardware exactly from one vm to the other. I've used this method by hand at it works just fine, especially for two servers.
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