Exporting virtual machines from VMware Workstation to ESX/ESXi
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Exporting virtual machines from VMware Workstation to ESX/ESXi


Article ID: 302650


Updated On:


VMware Desktop Hypervisor VMware vSphere ESXi


This article provides steps to export a virtual machine from Workstation to an ESX/ESXi host.


VMware Workstation 10.x (Linux)
VMware Workstation Pro 15.x (Linux)
VMware Workstation 7.x (Windows)
VMware Workstation 10.x (Windows)
VMware Workstation 6.x (Windows)
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7
VMware Workstation 11.x (for Linux)
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5
VMware Workstation Pro 15.x (Windows)
VMware Workstation 9.x (Windows)
VMware Workstation 9.x (Linux)
VMware Workstation Pro 14.x (for Linux)
VMware Workstation 8.x (Windows)
VMware Workstation 11.x (for Windows)


Workstation provides the ability to export virtual machines for use in other software through the Import/Export feature.
Note: Windows 7 is not supported for export in older version of VMware Workstation. To bring a Windows 7 virtual machine from Workstation to ESX/ESXi, see Migrating a Windows 7 Workstation virtual machine to vSphere (1022152).

  • If the virtual machine is being copied to ESX/ESXi, but the original virtual machine is still going to be used in Workstation, make sure to deploy the new virtual machine with customization. This changes the MAC address and SIDs so that the new and old virtual machines can run simultaneously without conflict. For more information on deploying with customization, see Customize Windows During Cloning or Deployment in the vSphere Basic System Administration Guide.
  • You must have network access to the ESX/ESXi or vCenter Server from the machine running Workstation.
  • You must have the ports for the management server console and HTTPS ((902 and 443, respectively) open to the ESX/ESXi host from the Workstation host machine.
  • You need to have a valid login to the ESX/ESXi host or vCenter Server.
  • Snapshots cause the conversion to take longer. This additional time can be significant if the snapshots are large or have existed for several days or more.
  • If you are not able to connect to vCenter Server or ESX/ESXi hosts, replace the hostname with IP address.

To export an existing virtual machine:
  1. Shut down the virtual machine and close its tab in the Workstation interface.
  2. Go to File > Import or Export.
  3. In the wizard, set the type of source to Other.
  4. Input the path to the virtual machine's .vmx configuration file. The path looks similar to:

    C:\Users\Your Name\Documents\Virtual Machines\My VM\My VM.vmx
  5. You can reduce or increase the disk space as required.
  6. Choose VMware Infrastructure Virtual Machine as the destination type.
  7. Provide the ESX/ESXi host name and login information.
  8. Choose the appropriate settings for datastore, network, virtual machine name, etc.
  9. Under Step 3: Customization, ensure to install VMware Tools so that the virtual machine works as expected when running on an ESX/ESXi host.
  10. Click Finish.

    This process creates a clone of the Workstation virtual machine on the ESX/ESXi host.

Workstation 8.x and later

To export machines to ESX/ESXi on Workstation 8.x and above, you can also use the File > Connect to Server option. For more information, see Upload a Virtual Machine to a Remote Server.

Additional Information

For additional information on best practices when converting virtual machines, see Best practices for using and troubleshooting VMware Converter (1004588).
To convert a VMware Workstation virtual machine to ESX/ESXi using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone, see the vCenter Converter Standalone Documentation.

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