Convert Windows Server Physical Machine to VM on Separate Network

This post is a step-by-step approach on HowTo convert a Physical Windows Server 2003, 2008 or 2008R2 machine to a Virtual Machine and import into ESXi.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” icon=”info”]This is more focused on a scenario where your physical machine(s) sits on a separate network from your ESXi environment and there is no connectivity between the two, so unable to p2v directly to ESXi[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” icon=”info”]Please note that the actual server name on all the screenshots have been modified so its easier to follow rather than me painting across it since these are my LIVE systems :)[/box]

Step 1: Install VMware Converter

– Click button below to download the latest VMware Converter for Windows. You will need to either Sign in or Sign up, to be able to download the converter

[button link=”” style=”download” color=”primary” class=”sys_btn”]VMware vCenter Converter[/button]

– Run the installer to install the tool on the host machine you intend to convert. Follow the prompts till completion


Step 2: Convert Machine

– Launch the VMware vCenter Converter Standalone. Click on Convert machine, Select under source type “Powered-on machine” and specify the powered-on machine as “This local machine


– For Destination, select destination type as “VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine“. Select appropriate VMware product (this should be supported by the current version of ESX running)


– Now edit the Volumes and adjust as desired. I have increased my C: drive to 60GB, D: drive set to minimum space currently used. Remove all Network to avoid IP and Name conflict. Adjust the memory and cpu allocated. In Advance options, check “Install VMware Tools on the destination virtual machine“.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” icon=”info”]At this stage, its best practice to stop any running service(s) like IIS, SMTP or custom application service. You might also want to disable the service so it does not automatically come online during/after conversion[/box]


– Review your summary page and proceed with conversion


– Wait until conversion is completed


[box type=”danger” style=”rounded” icon=”note”]Next: Copy the converted VM’s folder (containing .vmdk & .vmx files) in the share to a machine on the ESX network[/box]

Step 3: Import Virtual Machine into ESX

– Log into your ESX server, click Summary tab, right-click on the data store and click on Browse Datastore


– Click the Upload icon and select “Upload Folder“. Select folder of the converted machine and click OK to begin upload


– Click folder of imported VM, right-click on the vmx file and click “Add to inventory


– Click Next


– Select desired Resource Pool if any to put the VM. Click Next and Finish to add the VM


– Edit setting of the VM machine and remove unwanted hardware devices


Step 4: Fix Disk Type Error

[box type=”error” style=”rounded” icon=”alert”]When you try to start-up the VM, you may get the following error message shown below[/box]


– To workaround this, first enable SSH access to the ESXi server by clicking on the ESXi machine > Configuration Tab > Security Profile > Properties >Select “Remote Tech Support (SSH)” > Click Options and start the service


– Open Putty and SSH to the ESXi server. Run the following command to Clone the Original vmdk file

[code lang=”js”]

# cd /vmfs/volumes///

# vmkfstools -i sys01svr01.sysads.local.vmdk -d zeroedthick sys01svr01.vmdk


– Go back to the ESXi and Browse the LUN directory. Open the folder for the VM and delete the Original .vmdk file which should have the domain name (sys01svr01.sysads.local.vmdk). Now run the following command to rename the cloned vmdk file back to the original file name

[code lang=”js”]

# mv sys01svr01.vmdk sys01svr01.sysads.local.vmdk



Now power-up your VM and it should successfully come online 🙂

Step 5: Post Conversion

– Remember to add a new NIC to the VM and ensure the original physical server had been shutdown or removed from network to avoid server Name/IP conflicts
– Restart your services

Hope this was easy to follow 🙂

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