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HOWTO: Transfer files and VM’s to ESXi server

By Jesse | October 18, 2008

ESXi server by VMWare is a very powerful on-the-metal virtual machine environment.   However, it is somewhat confusing to many first time users.   Unlike most Operating Systems, or even hosts, there is no User Interface on the actual server- Instead everything is done remotely.

The question then becomes, how do you transfer pre-existing vm’s to the datastore?  On first glance it appears you can only create new machines or access VM’s that are on a network share.

However, there is an easier way!  The best way I’ve found to copy VM’s to to the data store is to copy them via SSH/SCP.

In order to do this, you need to turn on the SSH server that is built into the base OS:

  1. First, login to console 1 :  (press ctrl-alt-f1)
  2. Type in : unsupported and press enter.
  3. You should now see a tech support warning and a prompt to login.
  4. Login as root and enter your password.
  5. you should now have a root linux hash ( #   )
  6. Edit /etc/inetd.conf  using vi editor (vi /etc/inetd.conf)
  7. and remove the comments in front of the ssh section (remove the # signs. You may have to hit i to enter insert mode.  esc will get you out of insert mode. )
  8. Save the file (Shift-ZZ)
  9. and reboot (init 6)

You can now use a program like winSCP to copy files to and from your vmware server.



A couple additions I will mention… First, before you copy files to your ESXi server you must setup a datastore. Which will be done from the VMWare Infrastructure Client. (if you havent done so already, browse to your vmware server from another client — http://ESXiServerName or IP. then download and install the vmware client.)

Once inside the VMWare Infrastructure Client, Click on the Configuration Tab, then click on “Storage” in the hardware section.

Once the storage menu has been displayed, click “add storage” in the top right corner of the screen. Follow the steps to create the local datastore.

Once the datastore is created, you can access it via ssh using WinSCP which can be found here :

connect via ssh, your new datastore can be found here:

/vmfs/volumes/DATASTOREGUID (it’s a long string of numbers)/

then just drop your vm’s here in a folder. They will show up in the ESXi console.

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Topics: How To, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “HOWTO: Transfer files and VM’s to ESXi server”

  1. Miha Says:
    July 29th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    There is a much easier way of putting files onto an esxi datastore. Connect to it over vmware Client, put it into maintenance mode (i dont think you have to, but i do it anyway). Now click on the server in the left bar, go into the Summary segment, right click on the datastore –> browse datastore. There you will have an option of uploading a file / directory to the datastore. (you can also download, move or delete files and create directories). Cheers!

    P.S. It’s slow as shit but it gets the job done :)

  2. john Says:
    September 21st, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Thought I would point out that this blog is word for word similar to

    who published first?

  3. Jesse Says:
    September 21st, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    thank you for alerting me.. I have issued them a verbal takedown notice for stealing my entire intro and much of my article.