Some notes on VMWare Converter

VMWare converter is a free tool from VMWare to convert Virtual Machines from one format to another. I’ve recently built an ESXi server and was looking to move some machines from VMWare Fusion 5 over to it. There are a few pitfalls to be aware of:

1) VMWare Converter 5.0 is not compatible with ESXi 5.1 (yet). Don’t even try – Converter will just hang.
2) Converter 4.3 is allegedly compatible with 5.1, but I didn’t have any success. I would get “invalid fault” exceptions.
3) Convert 5.0 with ESXi 5.0U1 is painfully slow to transfer machines, even on gigabit lan. There is one option here that explains how to improve conditions. However, even with that fix, I only got transfer speeds of around 5mb/s when transferring file-based VMs.
4) It may not help, but check DNS and network config between you and your ESXi server is setup. DNS in my ESXi was set up to be some random IP address which presumably did not help.
5) Installing the converter on the machine you want to transfer is much faster. So rather than targetting a .vmx file, you can tell it to transfer the “currently powered-on machine”. Doing this with a simple W7 machine achieved speeds of anywhere up to 14mb/s. (Not great if you want to transfer a non-Windows machine, though!)
6) You may encounter issues with VMs that have multiple virtual hard drives. I had a SQL Server with 3 separate drives installed, and whilst it did transfer all drives, with data intact, only the C: drive was alive when starting the machine. You may need to use DISKPART to get the other drives going again.

Will add more issues as I encounter them.

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