Importing and Exporting VMs

You can import VMs from OVF/OVA packages, from disk images, and from Citrix Hypervisor XVA files. VMs can be exported as OVF/OVA packages and as Citrix Hypervisor XVA files. Import and export VMs in XenCenter using the Import and Export wizards.

When importing VMs created on hypervisors other than Citrix Hypervisor, use the Operating System Fixup tool to ensure that imported VMs can boot on a Citrix Hypervisor server.

You can import or export a UEFI-enabled VM created on a Citrix Hypervisor server as an OVA, OVF, or an XVA file. Importing a UEFI-enabled VM from other hypervisors is not supported.

Supported import and export formats

Format Description
Open Virtualization Format (OVF and OVA) OVF is an open standard for packaging and distributing a virtual appliance consisting of one or more VMs. For more information about XenCenter support for OVF and OVA file formats, see Open Virtualization Format.
Disk image formats Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) and Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) format disk image files can be imported using the Import wizard. You might want to import a disk image when only a virtual disk image is available, but there is no OVF metadata associated with it. For more information about supported disk image formats, see Disk Image Formats (VHD and VMDK)
Citrix Hypervisor XVA format XVA is a format specific to Xen-based hypervisors for packaging a single VM as a single file archive of a descriptor and disk images. Its file name extension is .xva.

Which format to Use?

Use OVF/OVA to:

  • Share Citrix Hypervisor vApps and VMs with other hypervisors that support OVF.
  • Save more than one VM.
  • Secure a vApp or VM from corruption and tampering.
  • Include a license agreement.
  • Simplify vApp distribution by storing an OVF package in an OVA.

Use XVA to:

  • Import and export VMs from a script with a command line interface (CLI).

Operating System Fixup

XenCenter includes an advanced hypervisor interoperability feature – Operating System Fixup – which aims to ensure interoperability for VMs that are imported to a Citrix Hypervisor server. Use Operating System Fixup when importing VMs created on other hypervisors from OVF/OVA packages and disk images.

Operating System Fixup configures a guest OS to boot by enabling boot devices critical for booting in a Citrix Hypervisor server and disabling any services or tools for other hypervisors. Guest OSes include all versions of Windows that Citrix Hypervisor supports and some Linux distributions.


Operating System Fixup does not convert the guest operating system from one hypervisor to another.

Operating System Fixup is supplied as an automatically booting ISO image that is attached to the imported VM’s DVD drive. It performs the necessary configuration changes when the VM is first started, and then shuts down the VM. The next time the new VM is started, the boot device is reset, and the VM starts normally.

To use Operating System Fixup on imported disk images and OVF/OVA packages, you enable the feature on the OS Fixup Settings page of the XenCenter Import wizard. Specify a location to copy the Fixup ISO to so that Citrix Hypervisor can use it.

Operating System Fixup requirements

Operating System Fixup requires an ISO SR with 40 MB of free space and 256 MB of virtual memory.

Importing VMs: overview

When you import a VM, you are effectively creating a VM. The import process involves many of the same steps as creating a VM, such as nominating a home server and configuring storage and networking for the VM. For detailed information about each of these steps, see Creating a New VM.

The Import wizard takes you through the following steps to import a VM:

  1. Select the import file.

    The first step is to locate and select the file containing the VM or VMs you want to import.

    For files that are not currently on your local XenCenter host, you can enter a URL location (HTTP, HTTPS, file, FTP) in the Filename box. On clicking Next, a Download File dialog box opens and you can specify a folder on your XenCenter host to copy the file to. The Import wizard continues to the next page when the file has been downloaded.

  2. (VHD and VMDK import only) Specify the new VM’s name and allocate vCPU and memory resources.

    When importing from VHD or VMDK file, you must specify a name for the new VM and allocate it some virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and memory. All of these values can be adjusted later, after the new VM has been created. For more information, see VM CPU and Memory Allocation. VM names are not checked for uniqueness within XenCenter, so it makes it easier for you to manage different VMs if you give them meaningful, memorable names. For more information, see VM Name and Description.

  3. (OVF/OVA only) Review/accept EULAs.

    If the package you are importing includes any EULAs, accept them and then select Next to continue. If no EULAs are included in the package, the wizard will skip this step and move straight on to the next page.

  4. Choose the location/home server.

    Select the destination pool or standalone server where you want to place the imported VMs. To nominate a Home Server for the incoming VMs, select a server in the list.

  5. Configure storage.

    Next, choose the SRs where the virtual disks in the imported VMs are to be placed:

    For VMs in XVA format, you select an SR where the imported VM’s virtual disks are to be placed.

    For VMs in OVF/OVA packages or in disk image files, you can place all imported virtual disks onto the same SR. Alternatively, you can place individual virtual disks onto specific SRs.

  6. Configure networking.

    Next, map the virtual network interfaces in the imported VMs to target networks in the destination pool/standalone server.

  7. (OVF/OVA only) Security validation.

    If the selected OVF/OVA package is configured with security features such as certificates or a manifest, you must specify the necessary information.

  8. (OVF/OVA and disk image only) Configure OS Fixup

    If the VMs you import are built on a hypervisor other than Citrix Hypervisor, you must configure the Operating System Fixup feature to enable the imported VM to boot correctly on a Citrix Hypervisor server.

    • (XenCenter 8.2.2 and earlier) Configure Transfer VM settings

      Older versions of XenCenter use the Transfer VM to transfer the content of a disk image. You must configure networking for the Transfer VM, a temporary VM used when importing/exporting VMs from disk images and OVF/OVA packages.

  9. Complete new VM creation.

    On the final page of the Import wizard, you can review all the configuration options you have chosen. When importing from XVA, you can select the Start VM automatically check box to have the new VM start automatically when it is created.

    Click Finish to finish importing the selected VMs and close the wizard.

Exporting VMs: overview

Select the VM or VMs you want to export and then open Export wizard: on the VM menu, click Export.

  1. Specify export file details.

    On the first page of the wizard, enter the name of the export file. Specify the folder where you want the file to be saved. Choose the export file format from the Format list:

    Choose XVA File (*.xva) to export the selected VM to an XVA file. Only single VMs can be exported in this format.

    Choose OVF/OVA Package (*.ovf, *.ova) to export the selected VMs as an OVF or OVA package.

  2. Confirm VMs selected for export.

    On the next page of the wizard, you can modify the VM selection set. When exporting to XVA, only one VM can be selected.

  3. (OVF/OVA only) Configure EULA, Advanced Options, and Transfer VM settings

    When exporting VMs as an OVF of OVA package, various extra settings can be configured. For more information, see Export VMs as OVF/OVA.

  4. Complete VM export.

    On the final page of the wizard, review the settings you have selected on the previous wizard pages. To have the wizard verify the export file, select the Verify export on completion check box.

    Click Finish to begin exporting the selected VMs and close the wizard.

(XenCenter 8.2.2 and earlier) Transfer VM

The Transfer VM is a built-in VM that only runs during the import or export of a virtual disk image (VDI). The VM transfer the VDIs contents between the disk image file location and the SR. One Transfer VM runs for each import or export of a disk image. When importing or exporting VMs or vApps with more than one disk image, only one disk image transfers at a time.


The Transfer VM was removed in XenCenter 8.2.3 and replaced with a more efficient and secure transfer method. We recommend that you upgrade your version of XenCenter to the latest version available on the Citrix Hypervisor product downloads page.

Configure networking settings for the Transfer VM in the Import and Export wizards.

Transfer VM requirements

The Citrix Hypervisor requirements to run one Transfer VM are:

Virtual CPU 1
Virtual memory 256 MB
Storage 8 MB
Networking A network that is reachable from the Citrix Hypervisor host - usually the management network. Static or dynamic IP address. (Citrix recommends the use of a dynamic IP address.)

The default transfer protocol is iSCSI, and this protocol requires an iSCSI Initiator on the XenCenter host.

Importing and Exporting VMs