Physical to Virtual Machine Conversion Guide

VMware vCenter Converter enables physical and virtual machines to be converted into VMware virtual machines. The source can be a physical server, or a virtual machine using another platform such as Hyper-V. The client can also be used to convert a VMware Workstation or Fusion virtual machine to a vCenter infrastructure VM or vice-versa. This post will walk through the physical to virtual (P2V) process; using VMware vCenter Converter to migrate the operating system, applications, and data over the network to the virtualisation platform.



  • There will be down time during the switch-over, best practises indicate any databases or applications should be stopped during the conversion, as well as Anti-Virus.
  • Most Windows and Linux operating systems are supported, you can view a full list of supported operating systems on page 19 of the vCenter Server Converter White Paper.
  • Communication across ports 22, 443, and 902 is required. If you are connecting the Converter client to a remote machine then ports 139, 445, and 9089 are also required.
  • If the source machine is Windows then ensure Windows Firewall does not block File and Printer Sharing.
  • Make sure the virtual infrastructure has the variables required to run the physical machine as virtual, such as the correct VLAN configuration if you intend on keeping the same IP address, as well as Backup, DR, monitoring, and any other third party application compatibility.
  • The vCenter Converter itself does not require a license, you will need a (free) VMware account to download.

Client Install

First we install the vCenter Converter client on the physical server to be virtualised. This is straight forward installer and can be done any time, a reboot is not required. Click any of the thumbnails below to enlarge.

  • Download the latest version of the vCenter Converter from VMware Downloads and run the application.
  • Click Next to start the wizard.
  • Click Next to accept the patent agreement.
  • Agree to the license terms and click Next.
  • Accept the default installation directory and click Next.
  • Select Local Installation and click Next.
  • Review the customer experience program option and click Next.
  • Click Install to start the installation.
  • Once complete click Finish.

P2V Process

With the vCenter Converter client installed the next step is to actually run the physical to virtual conversion. To ensure a clean conversion it is recommended to stop any databases or applications during this process, even if you cannot afford the downtime it is likely there will be a performance degradation while the conversion is running. You should also consider disabling any AV program during the conversion.

Open the VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Client. Click Convert machine.


Change the source type to This local machine and click Next. You can also convert a remote Windows or Linux machine using the appropriate option.


Change the destination type to VMware Infrastructure virtual machine, this allows us to connect to a vCenter Server. Enter the vCenter name and credentials, click Next.


Enter a unique name for the virtual machine and the organisational folder where it will be stored, click Next.


Select the host or cluster for the virtual machine and the storage to use, click Next.

Review the options page, there are a number of useful settings here. For example you can set the physical machine to shut down once complete and the virtual machine to power on, for automatic switch over. You can also set the correct VLAN for the vNIC to use, exclude drives from the P2V task, or change virtual hardware settings; such as increasing resources. Change any desired settings and click Next.


On the summary page click Finish to begin the P2V conversion. The P2V job will be added to the tasks list with an estimated completion time, this varies depending on the amount of data to migrate and the speed of the network.

Post P2V

Once complete the virtual machine will be powered off by default, unless you specified otherwise in the options page. If required, manually shut down the physical machine and power on the new virtual machine. If you power on the virtual machine while the physical server is still connected to the network make sure you have disconnected the vNIC from the virtual machine to avoid an IP address or host name conflict.

There are a number of ‘tidy up’ jobs we need to carry out on the new VM after the P2v process.

  • Install VMware Tools.
  • From the Edit Settings option of the virtual machine remove any unnecessary virtual hardware that may have been added as a hardware equiviliant was detected, but not used.
  • Remove any physical server, or hardware, management software such as RAID management, drivers, etc.
  • Remove any ghosted entries from device manager, to see non-present devices open command prompt as administrator and run set devmgr_show_nonpresent+devices=1. In Device Manager click View, Show Hidden Devices. Uninstall any greyed out devices.
  • Remove any system restore points from before the conversion.
  • Remove the VMware vCenter Converter client.

Resources – for additional information or troubleshooting steps see the VMware vCenter Converter User Guide. Calculate cost savings for converting physical servers to virtual using the VMware ROI TCO Calculator.

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