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How to upgrade VMWare ESXi 4.1 to 5.0

How to upgrade VMWare ESXi 4.1 to 5.0
A simple step-by-step guide on upgrading VMWare ESXi 4.1 to 5.0


VMWare recently updated their very successful ESXi product to version 5, bringing some fantastic new features and updates, but how painful is it to upgrade from version 4.1 to 5? Thankfully not very, and here’s how to do it.

As with any upgrade process make sure you have a full and valid backup before you do anything. 

Start by shutting down all of your virtual machines on the ESXi server. Whilst they’re all shutting down, hop over to the VMWare site and download version 5 of ESXi. Once you have downloaded the ISO burn it to a CD.

After all the servers have shutdown, insert the ESXi 5 you have just created and reboot the VMWare server and boot from the CD. You’ll be presented with the following screen, simply wait 5 seconds and the install wizard will start to load. This can take a few minutes. 

VMWare ESXi 5.0 boot screen

Once the wizard has loaded you’ll be presented with a ‘Welcome to the VMWare ESXi 5.0.0 Installation’ screen. Simply press ‘Enter’ to continue.

Press ‘F11’ to accept the license agreement, and ESXi will scan your system for any storage devices. Once this is done choose your datastore where your existing virtual machines are installed and press ‘Enter’. Again ESXi will scan the store to see if anything is installed. A few seconds later it will ask you what you wish to do with the datastore. The choices are;

  • Force migrate to ESXi, preserve VMFS datastore
  • Install ESXi, preserve VMFS datastore
  • Install ESXi, overwrite VMFS datastore

Select ‘Force migrate to ESXi, preserve VMFS datastore' and press ‘Enter’. This will upgrade your server to version 5 but keep all of the settings and Virtual Machines intact. Once again ESXi will scan your system and you may see a message that says some of the drivers may not work after the upgrade. Take a note of these drivers and press ‘F11’ to continue. ESXi will now upgrade, this will take approx 15-20 mins, after it has completed ESXi will ask you to reboot, eject the install disk and press ‘Enter’.


That’s it. ESXi will boot and you can login using the vSphere 5 client and power up all your servers again.

Overall it’s a pretty simple process, just make sure you backup first.

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