How to upgrade your VMs' virtual hardware to version 9 with ESXi 5.5

After upgrading your ESXi hosts to 5.5 the "Upgrade Virtual Hardware" function of the legacy vSphere Client will update the virtual hardware of a VM to version 10, although the legacy client is not able to edit the properties of version 10 VMs (see my earlier post about How to update to ESXi 5.5 ...). Only the Web Client is able to do this with version 10 VMs, and that requires vCenter. If you do not have vCenter available or do not feel comfortable with the Web Client for other reasons then you want to avoid upgrading virtual hardware to version 10. But how can you upgrade to only version 9?

Depending on the type of license you have and the availability of vCenter there are several ways to achieve this:

1. If you are using paid or non-expired evaluation licenses, have vCenter available with the Web Client installed and configured then you can use the Web Client to schedule a virtual hardware upgrade for a VM in its Virtual Hardware settings:

Choose Compatible with "ESX 5.1 and later" to upgrade the VM's virtual hardware to version 9 upon next reboot.

2. If you are using paid or non-expired evaluation licenses for your ESXi host(s), but do not have vCenter available then you can use a simple PowerCLI cmdlet:
# Connect to host
Connect-VIServer your_hostname
# Upgrade hardware of the VM named Hw8Test
Set-VM -VM Hw8Test -Version v9 -Confirm:$false
The VM needs to be powered off before you run this command.

3. If you are using the free ESXi license then you cannot use the PowerCLI script, because the free license limits write access through the APIs. But you can use the following vim-cmd commands in an ESXi shell:

  vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms

will list all VMs that are registered on the host. Find the VM that you want to upgrade and note its vmid. Then run

  vim-cmd vmsvc/upgrade vmid vmx-09

An example:

Again this only works with VMs that are powered off.

This post first appeared on the VMware Front Experience Blog and was written by Andreas Peetz. Follow him on Twitter to keep up to date with what he posts.


  1. Awesome, thanks.

  2. Thanks very much for this. I had been told by countless sysadmins never to upgrade due to the version 10 limitation, but nobody explained a way to set the compatibility for 5.1 like this. So simple. I just upgrade three pesky machines that were still on v8!


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