How to move existing Incus instances between servers

To move an instance from one Incus server to another, use the incus move command:

incus move [<source_remote>:]<source_instance_name> <target_remote>:[<target_instance_name>]


When moving a container, you must stop it first. See Live migration for containers for more information.

When moving a virtual machine, you must either enable Live migration for virtual machines or stop it first.

Alternatively, you can use the incus copy command if you want to duplicate the instance:

incus copy [<source_remote>:]<source_instance_name> <target_remote>:[<target_instance_name>]

In both cases, you don’t need to specify the source remote if it is your default remote, and you can leave out the target instance name if you want to use the same instance name. If you want to move the instance to a specific cluster member, specify it with the --target flag. In this case, do not specify the source and target remote.

You can add the --mode flag to choose a transfer mode, depending on your network setup:

pull (default)

Instruct the target server to connect to the source server and pull the respective instance.


Instruct the source server to connect to the target server and push the instance.


Instruct the client to connect to both the source and the target server and transfer the data through the client.

If you need to adapt the configuration for the instance to run on the target server, you can either specify the new configuration directly (using --config, --device, --storage or --target-project) or through profiles (using --no-profiles or --profile). See incus move --help for all available flags.

Live migration

Live migration means migrating an instance while it is running. This method is supported for virtual machines. For containers, there is limited support.

Live migration for virtual machines

Virtual machines can be moved to another server while they are running, thus without any downtime.

To allow for live migration, you must enable support for stateful migration. To do so, ensure the following configuration:

Live migration for containers

For containers, there is limited support for live migration using CRIU. However, because of extensive kernel dependencies, only very basic containers (non-systemd containers without a network device) can be migrated reliably. In most real-world scenarios, you should stop the container, move it over and then start it again.

If you want to use live migration for containers, you must first make sure that CRIU is installed on both systems.

To optimize the memory transfer for a container, set the migration.incremental.memory property to true to make use of the pre-copy features in CRIU. With this configuration, Incus instructs CRIU to perform a series of memory dumps for the container. After each dump, Incus sends the memory dump to the specified remote. In an ideal scenario, each memory dump will decrease the delta to the previous memory dump, thereby increasing the percentage of memory that is already synced. When the percentage of synced memory is equal to or greater than the threshold specified via migration.incremental.memory.goal, or the maximum number of allowed iterations specified via migration.incremental.memory.iterations is reached, Incus instructs CRIU to perform a final memory dump and transfers it.