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Installing and upgrading VMware Tools in vSphere (2004754)

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This article provides the steps to install and upgrade VMware Tools in vSphere.
VMware Tools is a suite of utilities that enhances the performance of the virtual machine’s guest operating system and improves management of the virtual machine.

Although the guest operating system can run without VMware Tools, many VMware features are not available until you install VMware Tools. For example, if you do not have VMware Tools installed in your virtual machine, you cannot use the shutdown or restart options from the toolbar. You can use only the power options.

Note: This article references the correct procedures for installing or upgrading the VMware Tools in Windows based virtual machines.For all other supported operating systems, see Installing and Configuring VMware Tools.


ESXi hosts provide tools installers which need to be updated periodically. They are distributed through ESXi patches or downloadable from My VMware.
Optionally, they can be configured to point to a single shared repository of Tools installers. For more information see VMware Tools for hosts provisioned with Auto Deploy (2004018).

Manually install or upgrade VMware Tools in a single Windows virtual machine

Note: All supported Windows guest operating systems support VMware Tools.

Install the latest version of VMware Tools to enhance the performance of the virtual machine's guest operating system and improve virtual machine management. When you power on a virtual machine, if a new version of VMware Tools is available, you see a notification in the status bar of the guest operating system.

For Windows 2000 and later, VMware Tools installs a virtual machine upgrade helper tool. This tool restores the network configuration if you upgrade from virtual hardware version 4 to version 7 or later.

  • Power on the virtual machine.
  • Verify that the guest operating system is running.
  • For vSphere virtual machines, determine if you have the latest version of VMware Tools.

    To verify:

    In the vSphere Client inventory, select the virtual machine > click Summary tab.
  • User must have administrative privileges.
To manually install the VMware Tools:
  1. Select the menu command to mount the VMware Tools virtual disc on the guest operating system.

    In vSphere Client – Go to Inventory > Virtual Machine > Guest > Install/Upgrade VMware Tools.
    In vSphere Web Client – Go to All Actions icon > Configuration > Install/Upgrade VMware Tools.

  2. If you are using vCenter Server and are performing an upgrade or reinstallation:

    In the Install/Upgrade VMware Tools dialog, select Interactive Tools Installation or Interactive Tools Upgrade and click OK.

    The process starts by mounting the VMware Tools virtual disc on the guest operating system.

  3. If you are installing VMware Tools for the first time, in the Install VMware Tools information screen, click OK .
    • If auto run is enabled for the CD-ROM drive in the guest operating system, the VMware Tools installation wizard appears.
    • If auto run is not enabled, launch the wizard manually:
      • Click Start > Run.
      • Type D:\setup.exe.
         Where, D: is your first virtual CD-ROM drive
      • Click OK.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions. To install non default components, select the Custom setup.
  5. If the New Hardware wizard appears, go through the wizard and accept the defaults.
  6. When prompted, reboot the virtual machine.

    After the installation is completed, the VMware Tools label in vCenter Server > Summary tab changes to OK.

Upgrade VMware Tools 

VMware recommends that if you upgraded VMware Tools as part of a vSphere upgrade, upgrade to the latest virtual hardware version available for the virtual machine. For more information, see Upgrading hardware of a virtual machine to the latest version (1010675).

After ESXi hosts are updated with new tools, vSphere displays a message:

VMware Tools is outdated on this virtual machine.

This is not necessarily an unsupported condition. For more information, see Interoperability Matrix. Generally, Tools are forward and backwards compatible by several versions.

Automate the Installation of VMware Tools in a Windows virtual machine
If you are installing VMware Tools in many Windows virtual machines, you can automate the installation.

When using vCenter Server, you can use the Virtual Machines tab for a host or cluster and select the virtual machines on which to install or upgrade VMware Tools.

  • Power on the virtual machine.
  • Log in to the guest operating system as an administrator.
  • If you plan to use setup.exe at the command line to run the VMware Tools installation, edit the virtual machine settings to connect the virtual CD/DVD drive to the VMware Tools ISO image.
  • If you want to use MSI arguments to specify options regarding the silent installation, go to the Windows Installer page on the MSDN Web site to familiarize with the syntax. You can use these arguments with the setup.exe command or place them in the vCenter Server dialog box for automatic installations and upgrades.
  • If you want to prevent some VMware Tools components from being installed, familiarize with the VMware Tools component names so that you can specify which components to exclude. For more information, see the Names of VMware Tools Components Used in Silent Installations section in Installing and Configuring VMware Tools.
To automate the upgrade in Windows virtual machine:
  1. In the Inventory > Hosts and Clusters view, select the host, cluster, or datacenter and click the Virtual Machines tab.
  2. Control-click or Shift-click to select the virtual machines.
  3. Right-click the selected virtual machines and click Guest > Install/Upgrade VMware Tools.
  4. Complete the wizard.
Note: To specify any MSI arguments or to specify which VMware Tools components to exclude, add the same arguments and options that you would for the setup.exe program in the Advanced text box.

Automate the upgrade of VMware Tools in multiple Windows virtual machines

To automate the upgrade, use one of these options:
  • PowerCLI update-tools cmdlets. For more information, see the vSphere PowerCLI Documentation guide .

    This updates the VMware Tools on the specified virtual machine.

    C:\PS> Update-Tools 'myVM'

    Note: The virtual machine must be powered on.

  • Update Manager can be used to provide VMware Tools and virtual hardware upgrade baselines that can be applied to multiple virtual machines. For more information, see the vSphere Update Manager Administration Guide

  • Virtual Machine check/upgrade tools during power cycle.

    Note: The Check and upgrade Tools during power cycling feature does not work in ESXi 5.0. For more information, see the known issues section in the VMware vSphere 5.0 Release Notes.

    1. In the Sphere Client Inventory, right-click the virtual machine and click Edit Settings.
    2. Click the Options tab.
    3. Click VMware Tools.
    4. Select Check and upgrade tools during power cycling.
For more information, see Installing VMware Tools in a Windows virtual machine (1018377).

Additional Information

For information on Operating System Specific Packages (OSPs), see VMware Tools Operating System Specific Packages.
For translated versions of this article, see:



Update History

10/01/2012 - Added Debian to list of Guest Operating Systems

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.


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