Moving VMs from ESXi 4.0 and 5.0 to 6.5

I’ve inherited some pretty old ESXi boxes – I’ve purchased new hardware, and have installed ESXi 6.5 on the new hardware. At this point I need to move the VMs from the current ESXI 4.0 and 5.0 boxes to the new 6.5 one.

I shutdown three VMs, and using SSH (and SCP), I copied the files from the old datastore to a new datastore on ESXi 6.5. All three of the servers failed to power on.

Two of them I believe failed because they have snapshots (I’ll delete snaps before trying again)

The third has no snapshots, but it still failed to power on with the errors:

* File system specific implementation of LookupAndOpen[file] failed
* The file specified is not a virtual disk
* Cannot open the disk ‘/vmfs/volumes/5e45a7c6-7d90d9e0-3242-b49691662e8c/CUCX-XX-CC1/CUCX-XX-CC1_1.vmdk’ or one of the snapshot disks it depends on.
* Module ‘Disk’ power on failed.


My overall question is, what’s the best way to move (copy) these VMs from ESXi 4.0 and 5.0 hosts to my new 6.5 host.

Only the new host has support

There is no Vcenter available.

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  1. Check to see what type of disk format you have some of the old vmdks use to be twoGbMaxExtentSparse on ESXi 4 or 5 think !? Which are unsupported disk formats in newer versions.

    Then if your looking at cloning from the command line with:


    – Note the above will only work on block storage and wont work for the likes of NFS (Also the clone will consolidate your snapshots into a single vmdk on the destination and leave your snapshots in place on the source) -Downside you need shared storage, and the vm will need to be powered off and could take a long time depending on how big your vms are.

    What error do you see in the vmware.log at the time of the failed power on operation?

    Hope this helps !

  2. For those 5.0 hosts I would start by upgrading them to 5.5. Then bring up VM compatibility and then try again.

    You could also try Veeam’s community edition to replicate them but I don’t think it’ll have support for 4.0 anymore. Can you upgrade the 4.0 hosts to 5.x?

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