VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 6.1.1 works with ESXi 6.5, virtualizing Windows PCs & VMs for free

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 16 2016 (updated on Nov 17 2016) in
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • Storage
  • Run-as-administrator

    Last night, I was recording a nifty ESXi 6.5 install video using a Windows 10 system that was running on some older hardware. That was a mistake, it bogged down right when I needed it, live on camera. Oh well, time to migrate this VM to another system as I prepare for round 2, the VCSA install. The quick and easy way to get this done doesn't require vSphere clustering or firewall hole poking, even standalone ESXi hosts will do.

    I simply installed the latest version of the free VMware vCenter Converter Standalone version 6.1.1 build-3533064 on to the system I wanted to move. Works with VMware Workstation too, see full VMware's support list in the instruction manual below.

    I then ran through the wizard to push this 26GB of Windows 10 Anniversary Edition to a speedy ESXi 6.5 system with NVMe. Transmogrified into a full-fledged-fast ESXi VM. Nice!


    You may need to launch Converter as Administrator, unless you like the surprising error
    Permission to perform this operation was denied.
    as seen below.


    Figured I'd record the video below, as I performed the straight-forward conversion steps. Why? Because I was blazing a bit of a new trail here, since this early-2016 release of Converter doesn't claim to support yesterday's vSphere 6.5 release. Note that it tends to take months for VMware to update this utility. Meanwhile, good to know that it seems to work just fine already.

    The usual disclaimers seen at bottom left of all my articles apply, proceed at your own unsupported risk!


    Oh, one more quick side-story. Back in the late 2000s, I was doing consulting work at a Fortune 50 company. It was my job to virtualize over 200 ancient HP and Dell servers, migrating them to the vSphere infrastructure I had just built. VMware Converter was pretty lousy back them, those early days, and tricks like using Ghost to clone a finicky drive were needed when the conversion failed for a variety of reasons. It's gotten much better, but is still rather long in the tooth, showing it's age when trying to convert remote Windows 10 systems (firewall issues, permissions issues). Stick with a workflow that is something like this, and you're more likely to git 'er done:


    1. Install on the source system you'd like to virtualize, or move from one ESXi host to another (without vCenter), taking advantage of the drive resize option can be handy too!

    2. Point it to the VMware Infrastructure system
      This means an ESXi host, or if tied to vCenter/VCSA, point it to that vCenter/VCSA instead, if your DNS is configured correct.

    3. Walk through the wizard, as seen in the video

    4. Shut down your old now virtualized system

    5. If you have MAC address based DNS/DHCP reservations, check the properties of the new VM, to get the new MAC address, and update your reservations

    6. While you're in there, remove stuff you probably don't really need like the floppy controller, extra NICs, USB controller, etc.

    7. Optionally, if you know what you're doing, you might want to remove the NIC from the VM that it chose, then go with optimized VMXNET3 driver, but be warned, this will change the network enumeration and could break any VPNs installed in the VM, requiring repair or VPN uninstall/reinstall

    8. Power on the new VM, verify it works and that networking is operational with the proper name and IP, and clean-up irrelevant stuff like Lenovo/HP/Dell laptop drives and such that have no place in a VM

    That's about it!


    VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 6.1.1 works with ESXi 6.5, virtualizing Windows PCs/VMs for free


    Remember, this is not something that is supported by VMware, and it is a free product after all. Please read the manual, watch the video, and search the VMware Converter Standalone Community, where you can also post your questions and issues. You can also feel free to put your questions in the comments area below the article, and I'll try to answer if it's an easy fix. Still stuck? See also this page.


    See also at TinkerTry

    See also