I have ESXi 7.0 installed on a new server
I have an iSCSI datastore with a bunch of VMs from my old server which ran ESX 6.0. If I connect the iSCSI to the new server and register the VMs and run them, they work just fine.
I no longer want to use the iSCSI datastore, I want to retire it and use a local datastore instead. However, any attempt I've made so far to copy the VMs to the new datastore has not worked. The files copy over, but when I try to power on the VM I get this error:
I do not have a vCenter or a vMotion license, and I cannot find any kind of "migrate" option in the vSphere web UI. Is the any way at all that I can migrate the VMs to the new datastore and preserve their snapshot history? I don't understand why copying all the files over doesn't work.
I would suggest to not store your Virtual Machines in a local datastore because if anything happen to the server that holds the disk you will not have any recovery option more than backup. Basically the issue you are facing could be related to VMFS version on the source ESXi to be lower than the destination one and the Snapshots format changed .
VMFSsparse is the format used in VMFS 5 if the disks are smaller than 2 TB if it is bigger than that it will use SEsparse which is the default for VMFS 6 and in this last version is it used by all by default. In the next page it explains everything and it mentions that if you migrate from one Datastore to another the format will change automatically but i am quite sure this applies only to Storage vMotion: Snapshot Formats on VMFS
Is a particular reason of why you want to keep your Snapshots while moving your VMs? Because if possible is much better to first consolidate your snapshots and then do the movement.
You're right, it looks like the old datastore is VMFS5 and the new one is VMFS6. Is there a way to force/convert the VMs into the new SEsparse format so that I can move the VMs without issue? Could I copy them to a VMFS5 datastore and ugprade the datastore to VMFS6? Could I move them if they are in the new format anyways, or will I still have issues?
I've tried exporting the VMs to an OVA file. I'm having separate issues importing the OVA, but in theory would exporting all the VMs to OVA and importing them to the new server work too?
I guess most of my VMs I could probably consolidate the snapshots without any real loss. I like keeping snapshots so I can revert back to prior known good states when issues crop up with systems, sometimes I clone VMs and revert the clone back so I can "fork" a server from a previous point in time.
Unfortunately there is not way of updating the VMFS Datastore from version 5 to 6 without unmounting and deleting the datastore which makes also complex your operation to be done in your environment. If you were having vCenter you would be able to migrate the VMs so the automatic snapshot will convert.
Another recommendation is that you should use the snapshots for short periods of time and only to go back changes in case anything wrong. At this point something that you have to consider if in any of your deployments you will harm them if you delete the snapshots, if not i would go with the consolidation and then move option which is the more consistent one in terms of consistency of data.
Regarding the OVF, actually is a really good idea if you have enough space to export them but that operation will consolidate all your snapshots also.
Thanks for the help and links Lalegre. I don't think the question of "how to migrate VMs with snapshots" is really answered, but you've helped me resolve my confusion around why the migration wasn't working. I was able to consolidate most snapshots for migration (which then worked perfectly) and anything remaining I guess I'll have to rebuild on the new datastore (much less than the effort of rebuilding everything).
Sounds like the VM and disk descriptor files (VMX and VMDK) include references which are not being updated when you move the files.
That’s definitely an advantage of using vCenter Server migration as it updates all of those for you.