PowerCLI Basic Scripts: Bulk Export All Virtual Machines in a Folder

Have you ever wanted to mass export virtual machines? I know I have and its infuriating that the web GUI does not have this option built into it. So I went and pulled some good ol’ duct tape engineering and made a somewhat functional script for it.


Firstly, we need to connect to the VMware vCenter server. This commandlet allows you to pass credentials in the command/script, or by using the PowerShell equivalent of readline. So if you’re okay with being insecure and bad habits, remove the # and fill in your credentials.

Connect-VIServer -Server YourVcenter.full.tld #-User administrator@vsphere.local -Password Password123!

If you have an invalid SSL certificate, make sure to add this before the line above to ignore the issue and continue anyways:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction Ignore -Confirm:$false


Now we need to figure out the folder structure, creating a Get-Folder "FolderName" for each time we enter a folder. For mine I enter 2 folders where VM’s are contained.

For me, this would be 2 total get folder commands. So it would be:

Get-Folder "CCDC" | Get-Folder "Athens"

We then need to get the output from that last folder and sort the output, selecting only the name.

| Get-VM | Select -ExpandProperty Name

Next, we need to format the list as a string to sort out the weirdness

| Out-String | Format-list

Next, we need to set a location of the output text file that contains all of the virtual machines we are going to export. I am using “C:\Temp\dump.txt”.

I tried to use a variable, but PowerCLI had a stroke when calling that variable, so I am using an output file. If you have a method that does not need a dump file, please post it in the comments.

| Out-File C:\Temp\dump.txt

The complete one-liner would be:

Get-Folder "CCDC" | Get-Folder "Athens"| Get-VM | Select -ExpandProperty Name | Out-String | Format-list | Out-File C:\Temp\dump.txt


Now we need to load that dump file we created into a variable. Make sure to replace it with your dump file

$vm_names = Get-Content C:\Temp\dump.txt


Next is the fun part. Actually exporting the VM’s, or VApps as VMware calls it. From here there are some options you can add. The Export-VApp line is the actual command that exports the VM. You will need to set an output directory for this to work. In my case, it’s a network drive S:\Athens. If you want to export all of the virtual machines at the same time, add “-RunAsync:$true” I caution against using it because it will not increase export times, as it seems there is a hard cap of about 10-20MB/s when exporting VM’s and it is much harder to keep track of the completion process. I also disabled the creation of a separate folder for each VM. I also specified the format be OVF, which is the one that the VM is split into multiple files. If you want a single file the specify OVA.

foreach ($vm_name in $vm_names)
Get-VM -Name $vm_name | Shutdown-VMGuest -confirm:$false # This will shutdown the VM before export. 
Get-VM -Name $vm_name | Get-CDDrive | Set-CDDrive -NoMedia -confirm:$false # This will remove any CD in the drive. 
Get-VM -Name $vm_name | Export-VApp -Destination 'S:\Athens' -Format OVF -CreateSeparateFolder:$false

This script is pretty modular, so you could for example switch out the commands to instead of exporting a VM, change a network adapter to # port group, Bulk shutdown/startup machines, Mass delete VM’s, etc. If you found this helpful, please consider donating to us. Our server hosting is about 15 bucks a month, So every bit helps.

Complete script:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction Ignore -Confirm:$false
Connect-VIServer -Server vcenter.lok.tech #-User administrator@vsphere.local #-Password

Get-Folder "Folder1" | Get-Folder "FolderInsideFolder1" | Get-VM | Select -ExpandProperty Name | Out-String | Format-list | Out-File C:\Temp\dump.txt

$vm_names = Get-Content C:\Temp\dump.txt

foreach ($vm_name in $vm_names)
Get-VM -Name $vm_name | Shutdown-VMGuest -confirm:$false
Get-VM -Name $vm_name | Get-CDDrive | Set-CDDrive -NoMedia -confirm:$false
Get-VM -Name $vm_name | Export-VApp -Destination 'S:\Athens' -Format OVF -CreateSeparateFolder:$false

About: Ryan Parker

I am former captain of the Cyber Defense team form Cal State San Bernardino. I also have a side job helping small to medium business with anything technology, including but not limited to servers, networking, and end user devices. One of my hobbies is building out infrastructures for myself, friends, and clients. I current maintain a VMware ESXi cluster with about 280GB of RAM, with a 10Gbit network as backbone.

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