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How do I autostart VMWare ESXi 6.0-6.7 virtual machines?

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Anton Shostak
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The task has taken me a year to figure out, so I would like to share tips with you, in case you run into the problem and come across this article, searching for it.

This is an account of what I had to do to fix this particular issue.


Had you ever used VMWare's ESXi, you would know, that versions, prior to ESXi 6.0 were managed by a Windows vSphere Client and everything was working properly.


But that was not convenient for everyone, to keep a Windows machine handy just to log in into their VMWare's control panel. If you, like me, were one of those, or just lucky to start your journey with VMWare from version ESXi 6.0, you could have noticed, that the application refuses to support versions over 6.0. Therefore you can use a Host Client (which has a web-interface, instead).


The story would have ended here, although not this time. Once you set everything up and have your virtual machines running happily, you will be hard pressed to find how to make them automatically start, when the system is power-cycled.


In case you migrate from the older VMWare and provided some luck, your machines will continue to auto-start. But what to do with the new machines, created actually with ESXi 6.0+? After every power-cycle, they will just stay off.

In the documentation all over the Internet you can find, that autostarting is controlled by a setting of priority for your VMs. Unfortunately, this setting does not work.


Before ESXi 6.0 you could explicitly set a boot-up flag in the Windows vSphere Client, so how to solve it now? If you search, you will not find it, but I have come across the solution completely by an accident. 


There is a utility, which is meant for running virtual machines by VMWare on Linux or Windows, the name of this utility is VMWare Workstation Pro. It is commercial, but you can try it for free for 30 days.


- Use it to connect to your system, using "Connect to a Remote Server" button on the initial screen.

 

- Right-click on the host's IP or hostname in the left pane after a successful connection, and select - VM power actions

 

- You will see "Auto Start" flags, which can be set in front of every virtual machine.


By the way, VMWare Workstation Pro does not provide many features, which are there in the web-based Host Client. So, strangely just one option, absent in the web-interface, is here and 80% of other options are in the web-interface.


This way I have demonstrated, that there exists a hidden mechanism, not present in the Host Client's interface, which can be triggered, without any change of your system's configuration.


Please endorse and share this article, if it had helped you to get to know VMWare ESXi better.

 

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