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Connecting to an ESX host using an SSH client (1019852)

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This video provides an overview of connecting to an ESX host using an SSH client. This article references using the PuTTY SSH client.

Note: These steps can be used on an ESX 3.x or 4.x host. These steps do not apply to ESXi.

For information on using SSH with other versions, see Tech Support Mode for Emergency Support (1003677).


By default, root login via SSH is disabled to prevent brute force attacks. This articles details how to create a new user on the ESX host, log in as the new user, then change to root access so you have the correct privileges to administer the ESX host.

This article assumes you have the SSH client and the vSphere Client or VMware Infrastructure Client installed. The video also assumes you have configured your ESX host's service console network. If you can ping the ESX host service console IP, you can proceed. For more information, see Testing network connectivity with a ping command (1003486).

To connect to the ESX host using an SSH client:
  1. Log into ESX host as the root user with the vSphere Client.
  2. Click Users & Groups.
  3. Right-click on a blank area and click Add.
  4. Enter a username and password. Confirm your password. Starting in ESX 4.0, the password must be at least 8 characters in length.
  5. Select Grant shell access to this user and click OK.
  6. Open your SSH client.
  7. Complete the necessary fields. Ensure Port is set to 22 and Protocol is set to SSH. Press Enter or click Open.
  8. Log in as the new user you created in step 4.
  9. Change to the root user account:

    1. Type su - and press Enter. This command switches the user to root access and provides the path to the root user commands.
    2. Enter the root password and press Enter. You are now logged into the ESX host via SSH as root.
    3. When you are done administering the system, type Exit and press Enter. This reverts to your new ESX user.
    4. Type Exit and press Enter again. You have successfully disconnected from your SSH session.
If you wish to allow root login to SSH directly, without using su -, see Enabling root SSH login on an ESX host (8375637).

Additional Information

See Also

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