How to Export VMs with VMWare OVF Tool

"Exporting VMs through the web UI can be quite a bit iffy; this will get you on track with flawless results."

I have a failing battery in the RAID controller of my ESXi server, so the prospect of losing all my data is quite a possibility. I wanted to take a backup of all my VMs on my server, but have found that, in many cases, the export results in a failure using the web UI.

Doing some searching around the 'net yielded using the most reliable method of export: VMware OVF Tool. Despite the documentation available, it can be a little confusing how to use the tool.

  • First off, you'll need to install the tool itself.
  • On Mac, it will install itself at "/Applications/VMware OVF Tool". Open a Terminal session there.
  • The command line tool has many options, but the most basic form would be akin to the following:

    ./ovftool vi://user@ ~/Downloads/myvm.ova

This will initiate an SSH session with your ESXi server and download a .OVA file that represents the entire VM. Depending on how large the disks are for your VM, this may take a little while to do.


UPDATE: I swapped out the battery in two minutes and everything went off without a hitch. :)

Posted on Apr 27
Written by Wayne Hartman