Contributor
Contributor

How to make a single VM work on different PCs?

Question: What do I need to do to allow my VM's to work on different PCs and avoid Windows activation notices as well as CPU incompatibilities?

Even having used VMware Workstation for over 10 years, I don't have any idea what I need to do to accomplish this, even after searching the internet quite a bit.

Quite frankly, I'm shocked and disappointed this isn't the default setting in VMware Workstation.

Honestly, every time I get a new PC I have problems using my old VM's on them and it's extremely frustrating!

Many times, for some forsaken reason, when I open my old/existing VM on my new PC, Windows finds something new and wants to reactivate. I mean, what's the whole point of virtualizing if VM W makes a VM that only works on a specific PC with a specific CPU with specific features?

More recently I've been getting a lot of "unable to restore this guest. The target host does not support CPUID faulting" on my brand new i7 6700K cpu. However, according to intel it does support CPUID faulting, and in fact has this and many more features than my five year old i7 laptop does.

So I hope there is an expert out there who knows a simple way to change/set my VM's so I can use them on either my laptop or new desktop Windows PC, regardless of which i7 model and generation each has.

Many thank in advance for helpful information!

Sincerely,

Shawn Tierney

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7 Replies
Leadership
Leadership

Hi,

The answer is CPU masking.

Eg. filtering off certain features on the CPU so that it looks like an older model.

This is a feature in vSphere where VMs can be vMotioned across different hosts.

Normally your VM lives at external storage and you just move it to a different host, so at all times there is just ONE copy.

It is understandable that workstation does not have any provisioning for CPU masking as you also do not have vMotion support.

When you move your VM to another machine you now have two copies and can run them both at the same time.

A thing that is not allowed within the normal Windows license, so I can also understand that VMware is not THAT inclined to add a user interface for this.

Having said all that.. if you mask off a CPU on a VM in vSphere and then put that VM on Workstation, Workstation will honor the CPU mask.

I'm not sure if the "Download" function preserves CPU masks, but do know for that the capability is in Workstation.

There's just no user interface.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I use a portable disk to move my VMs between work and home a lot and have not experienced any guest activation issues for a few years, what guest OS(s) are you having problems with?

I have personally found that if you want to use VMware Workstation across multiple PCs having a separate .vmx file for each host reduces headaches.

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Leadership
Leadership

Hi,

There's no problems as long as your CPU's are from the same family, eg. If the host CPU's are all Nehalem based, it will be fine. If you then take that VM to a host with a Sandy Bridge CPU, the activation logic might be triggered.

I have personally found that if you want to use VMware Workstation across multiple PCs having a separate .vmx file for each host reduces headaches.

That will work great, but doing so means that you should not make any snapshots any more. At least not make a snapshot without committing that snapshot and take it to another host as you'll damage your snapshot chain.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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Enthusiast
Enthusiast

More often than not I am using machines from different family CPU; maybe I have just been fortunate not running into issues related to this.

Yes, I do have snapshots turned off.

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Contributor
Contributor

Thank you very much for all your comments.

I have a 5 year old laptop and new desktop and I just want to be able to use my Windows 7 VMware Workstation 10 VM's (edit - just upgraded to Workstation 12) on either PC.

I have indeed purchased a unique Windows license for each of my VM's so no license issues there.

And from what you have posted, It sounds like not having CPU masking in Workstation is what is causing most of my issues.

Unfortunately, it takes several hours to install and setup all the software on my VMs, so if I can't find a workaround to this I may have to start looking at a different product / company :-(.

Very sad VMware!

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Leadership
Leadership

Hi,

I think you are pointing the blame to the wrong direction VMware is not the one who implemented the Windows activation logic, but .. that's just my opinion.

As for the CPU ID Faulting problem that you described.

Have a look here:

The target host does not support CPUID faulting

Also note that if you take a VM to another host that you should not suspend it NOR have snapshots open when moving it.

Resuming a VM that was suspended while running tends to depend on CPU specific features during resume.

If a CPU feature it counted on being there suddenly is not available on resume you will get errors.

Best practice is to:

Shut down the VM and commit ALL snapshots before booting at the other machine.

Finally, if you are moving the VM from older hardware to newer hardware then normally you only do that one time. If in that case your Windows activation triggers you can just call Microsoft to ask for a re-activation key if you can't do it from within the OS. It's not that problematic and doesn't take that much time as in most cases it is automated.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I often move Windows 7 Professional and Windows 10 Pro VMs between a Core 2 Quad Q6600 desktop (Windows 10 Pro) and Core i5-2430M laptop (Windows 10 Pro) without triggering Windows activation. Both are running Workstation Pro 12.1.1 build-3770994.

All VMs are in a shutdown state with no shapshots. The VMs are stored on a NAS and accessed via the UNC path instead of a mapped network drive if that makes any difference.

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