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VMware ESXi - How to Import and Export OVF Files

KB ID 0000562 Dtd 26/01/12

Problem

I've not touched OVF Files since VMware VI3, and as I had to do some work on one of my company's SAN's today, and my colleague's VM was sat in there. I thought I'd use OVF to temporarily backup the Virtual Machine, then after I'd finished messing about with the SAN, I used the OVF file to restore the machine back again.

I prefer to think of OVF files as "Zip" files for Virtual Machines and Virtual Appliances. There are two things you will want to do with an OVF Template;

1. Export a VM to an OVF Template

2. Import an OVF Template (Note: VMware call this "Deploy an OVF Template")

Note: There are tools for OVF templates for other VMware virtualisation products, this is just for vSphere / ESX.

Solution

Export a Virtual Machine to OVF

1. Connect to your host with the VI client > With your virtual machine powered off > Select it > File > Export > Export to OVF Template.

Export to OVF File

2. Select a location to save the files to > OK.

Export to OVF File Location

3. Depending on the size of the VM this can take a while.

Export to OVF File Progress

4. It will give you the following message when it's finished.

Export to OVF File Successfull

5. Here are the files that it has created.

OVF File Format

Import / Deploy an OVF Template to a Virtual Machine

1. To create a VM from an OVF template, connect to your host with the VI client > File > Deploy OVF Template.

Deploy OVF Template

2. Browse to the location that the .ovf file is stored > Next.

Import OVF file Browse

3. Read the details > Next.

Deploy OVF Template

4. Give the new VM a name > Next.

Import OVF file VM Name

5. Select the disk format (Thick or Thin) you want the new VM to use.

What does Lazy Zeroed and Eager Zeroed Mean?

Data on disks is stored as a 1 (one) or a 0 (zero), so if all the blocks on the disk are set to zero, when you put data on the disk, it only has half the work to do (i.e. write the ones). Eager Zeroed, puts zeros on all the blocks on the disks straight away, Lazy Zeroed puts all zeroes in a block the first time the block is read.

Import OVF file Disk Format

6. Read the summary, and if you want to power on the VM on completion, tick the box > Finish.

Import OVF file Summary

7. Depending upon the amount of data this can take a while.

Import OVF file Progress

8. It will give you the following message when it's finished.

OVF File sucessfull

9. And here is your VM, imported, powered up, and working.

Imported VM Working

Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links

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