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How to export virtual machine files from VMware

In order to upload your virtual machines into the Ravello service, you need to first export the VM files from vCenter/vSphere.

VMware products use several file types to describe a virtual machine, including the the machine metadata, disks, memory, paging files and snapshots. The Ravello service uses these file types:

  • VMX files: The VMX file is the primary configuration file of a virtual machine. It includes information regarding the machine hardware configuration, devices, networking and operating system. The VMX file includes the location of each of the VM hard disk images (.vmdk files).
  • VMDK files: in VMware, virtual disks are stored as one or more VMDK files on the host computer or remote storage device.

You can use the Ravello Import Tool to extract and upload VMs from vCenter or vSphere.

In addition, VMX and VMDK files can be imported using the VMware vCenter Converter Standalone tool or the OVF tool.

The import process will:

  1. Export each hard drive image as a single file, not as a list of snapshot files (note that the export process does not change the original files on vCenter)
  2. Create a minimal distribution of the image, using thin provisioning, thus reducing the upload time

To extract the VMX and VMDK files using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone tool:

vCenter Converter is a Windows-based wizard driven tool delivered by VMware. It can be used for converting VM files between different formats as well as for extracting VM files from vCenter and ESX server.

The tool can be downloaded from: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/evalcenter?p=converter


See the vCenter Converter documentation for detailed information.

  1. Select Convert machine.
  2. Select VMware Infrastructure virtual machine as the source type, enter the vCenter or ESX connection information, and click Next.
  3. Select the virtual machine and click Next.
    (Note: You can only convert a powered off virtual machine.)
  4. In the Destination System section:
    • Select VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine as the destination type
    • Select VMware Workstation 8.0.x as the VMware product.
    • Select the target location. You can also change the target VM name is desired.
    • Click Next.
  5. In the option section, make the sure that the Disk Type (in the Data to copy section) is defined as Not pre-allocated, and then click Next.  
  6. Review the summary details and click Finish.

To extract the VMX and VMDK files using the OVF Tool:

The OVF Tool is a free command line utility by VMware that allows you to import and export virtual machines from VMware products in various formats. One advantage of the OVF Tool is that it also works on Linux and Mac platforms (unlike the vCenter Converter which works on Windows only)

The OVF Tool can be download from: http://www.vmware.com/support/developer/ovf/


See the tool user guide for more information on the various command line options.

The general format for the ovftool is
ovftool –tt=vmx <source> <target>

Exporting a VM from vCenter, ESX or VMware Server
ovftool –tt=vmx sourceUrl targetDirectory

Where sourceUrl is in the following format:

For example (exporting from a vApp):

ovftool -tt=vmx vi://user:pass@ c:\temp\

Exporting a VM from vCloud Director
The format is similar to the above but the protocol is vcloud.
For example:
ovftool -tt=vmx vcloud://user:pass@ c:\temp\

Exporting a VM from disk
If you have access to the virtual machine files, you can use the ‘file://’ prefix.
For example:

ovftool -tt=vmx file:///<storage path> c:\temp\

It is recommended to stop a virtual machine before exporting it.

Have more questions? Submit a request


  • Avatar
    kg dwstats

    The vmx and vmdk files are clear to me since I tested with a vmware workstation virtual machine, 1 .vmx file with 1 single .vmdk file.

    Problem is I started the import from the webbased backend environment with the client installed on a windows 8 desktop .

    1st time I got the missing import utility message so I installed the client and tried it again.

    After selecting the .vmx on a local disk I do not get a progress bar and it looks to me like nothing is being uploaded to the cloud.

    Maybe the import utility is not windows 8 compatible or maybe something else is going wrong?

    With kind regards,


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