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Troubleshooting unresponsive guest operating system issues (1007818)

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  • Virtual machine fails to respond to keyboard or mouse activity.
  • Virtual machine is not responding to network communication.
  • Virtual machine does not allow access via RDP, vCenter Server virtual machine console screen, or other connection methods.
  • Virtual machine screen is black, and does not refresh.
  • You may see one or more of the following errors:
    • /init: /init: 151: Syntax error: 0xforce=panic
    • Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init!
    • Error codes 6005, 6008 in Windows Event Viewer


Virtual machines can become unresponsive in the same way as a physical machine. For this reason it can be difficult to determine whether the ESX/ESXi or the guest operating system itself is the cause for the unresponsiveness. This article provides some basic steps to help identify the source of the issue. Also, it provides links to some issues known to affect the guest operating system.


Validate that each troubleshooting step below is true for your environment. Each step provides instructions or a link to a document, in order to eliminate possible causes and take corrective action as necessary. The steps are ordered in the most appropriate sequence to isolate the issue and identify the proper resolution. Do not skip a step.

  1. Verify no messages are received during the boot process that identify the cause of the virtual machine's unresponsiveness. The best way to tell if the virtual machine’s issues result from a guest operating system problem or an ESX problem is to observe the boot process. If, during boot, the operating system loading information is displayed, the virtual machine is able to access the hard drive and is bootable. Generally, when the operating system is able to load, the issue lies within the operating system. 

  2. Verify sufficient disk space for proper virtual machine operation. One of the most common causes for a virtual machine to become unresponsive is that the hard drive has run out of space. Without sufficient space for logging and IO, the virtual machine may be unable to continue to function. For more information, see Investigating OS disk space (1004007) .

  3. Verify there are no operating system messages that explain the virtual machine's unresponsiveness. Linux and Windows virtual machines may encounter errors that cause failure and unresponsiveness.  Sometimes these errors may generate error messages displayed on the console. For more information, see Verifying if software is causing your virtual machine to fail (1003999).

  4. Verify the virtual machine has sufficient resources to ensure proper operation. A virtual machine may be appear unresponsive due to exceedingly high load on system resources. However, since the machine is virtual, the resource monitoring tools contained within the guest operating system may not accurately reflect the resource utilization of the guest. 

    For this reason, use the tools provided with the ESX host and Vmware VirtualCenter. For more information about monitoring resource utilization of a guest, see the vSphere Resource Management Guide, and reference the Performance Monitoring Utilities: resxtop and esxtop section. For ESX implementations that make use of the VMware vCenter product, see the Monitoring Your Virtual Infrastructure section from the vSphere Datacenter Administration Guide.

  5. Verify information logged to the Microsoft Event Viewer does not report an issue that can cause an unresponsive virtual machine. A Microsoft guest operating system contains a utility for viewing system related logs. The Event Viewer contains Application, Security, and System logs. These logs record information specific to the operation of the guest operating system. For more information, see Using Windows Event Viewer to identify the cause of an unresponsive or failed virtual machine (1007866).

  6. Verify the Microsoft registry's configuration is not causing the virtual machine to appear unresponsive. A Microsoft guest may sometimes be unable to shutdown properly using the VM > Shutdown option.

    Because it was unable to properly shutdown, it may appear as if it has become unresponsive, or is halted. To update the virtual machine's configuration and ensure it successfully shuts down upon receipt of the shutdown command, see Unable to shutdown Windows using shutdown guest option (1004764).
Note: If your problem still exists after trying the steps in this article:

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