VMware ESXi Upgrades and Updates with ESXCLI

This post details the steps to upgrade ESXi where VUM is not available or direct access to the hosts is difficult e.g remote office/datacentre.


  • Root or similar access to the host (can be via the VMA)
  • Offline bundle of the ESXi image (.zip format)
  • Putty or similar to access the shell
  • Host should be in maintenance mode
  • HA should be disabled on cluster

Start the ESXi Shell and SSH services, select the host –> Configuration –> Security Profile –>Properties –> ESXi Shell –> Options –> Start

Repeat for the SSH Service


Open a shared or local datastore on the applicable host, select the host –> Configuration –> Storage, right-click on the applicable datastore and select Browse Datastore.


Select the Upload Files to this Datastore button, select Upload File and browse to and select the .ZIP of the ESXi offline bundle to upload.


Run an SSH client e.g putty to SSH to the shell of the host.

Find Image Profiles

Find the available image profiles within the offline bundle by running the esxcli command:

esxcli software sources profile list -d /vmfs/volumes/<volume>/<ZIPFILE>.zip

*esxcli is case sensitive and paths can be tab completed*

Validate Image Profile

Validate current profile against new image profile use the command:

esxcli software profile validate -d /vmfs/volumes/<volume>/<ZIPFILE>.zip -p <profile>

You should see:

Profile Validation Result
Compliance: True

If the validation result returns false, you can still proceed with the update or upgrade if you confirm the invalid vib is not applicable.


An update will replace existing vibs with new vibs and include vibs that are not currently on the installed image profile.

esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/<volume>/<ZIPFILE>.zip -p <profile>

*use -f to force the update, will be required for a false validation of the image profile*


An upgrade replaces the current image profile with the image profile specified in the command. All vibs including manual additions to the current installed image profile may be removed. If there are custom vendor vibs, either use the Update option or manually apply the custom vibs after the upgrade.

esxcli software profile install -d /vmfs/volumes/<volume>/<ZIPFILE>.zip -p <profile>

*if the upgrade fails due to custom vibs, you can use the parameter –ok-to-remove at the end of the command*


Once the update or upgrade is complete, type the command reboot

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