VMWare ESX 3.5 upgrade to 4.1

Posted on 2010-09-10
Last Modified: 2013-08-28
Hi Experts,

I would like to do an upgrade of our ESX 3.5 server to version 4.1, please can someone give me a overview and guideline of what i need to do?

is that i can do the upgrade directly?

my environment is simply a standalone ESX server.

Question by:nokyplease
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Assisted Solution

simonseztech earned 167 total points
ID: 33651526

First be sure that your hardware is on the Hardware Compatiblity List for 4.1

If the ESX 3.x host has network access, you can use VMware vCenter Update Manager or the vSphere Host Update Utility to perform the upgrade. The vSphere Host Update Utility is installed with the vSphere Client. vCenter Update Manager is available with vCenter Server 4.0, vCenter Server 4.0 Update 1, vCenter Server 4.0 Update 2, and vCenter Server 4.1. Both applications are available on the vSphere download site:

You can perform an "offline" update following this guide

Please advise that this currently experimental support.

Since you are upgrading please consider upgrading to ESXi 4.1, because ESX 4.1 is the lastest build of the ESX line. From now on VMware will only support and update ESXi.
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Assisted Solution

coolsport00 earned 83 total points
ID: 33651967
Since this is a standalone server, anything related to Update Mgr or vCenter "simonseztech" provided will more than likely be irrelevant, unless of course you're potentially running a trial of vCenter (virtual center in prev versions) or are using it for just your 1 host, but if that's the case then you're not using what VMware considers a "standalone" host? :) But, you can certainly use Host Update Utility. Here are some good visual resources on how to use Host Update Utility if you choose that route:
I also concur with "simonseztech" in making sure your host is compatible with 4.1 before going through the task of upgrading.

What is your storage setup? Do you have 1 RAID array with both your hypervisor (ESX) install on as well as your datastore, or do you have separate RAIDs or separate disks? If you have separate disks, what I recommend to do is what I did in my Enterprise infrastructure to upgrade to vSphere, and that was migrate VMs off my host (you would need to probably copy using Veeam FastSCP [free] to a separate, external storage if you have it), power down my hosts, disconnect all my datastore storage, then do a fresh install of ESX. The only small tedious part to doing that is the need to reconfigure your vSwitches, so if you have a somewhat complex configuration on your vSwitch(es), just document what it is before doing a fresh install. After the install, I reconnected my datastore storage and migrated my VMs back to my host. I then upgrade VMware Tools on each VM, then updated the VM's hardware to ver. 7. If your setup is all on 1 disk, I recommend pretty much the same procedure, since copying/moving the VMs off the host would take care of any data you have on your storage (if you have ISOs on there, you'll want to move them too).

VMware has an upgrade site with great info:

Hope that helps.
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Assisted Solution

danm66 earned 167 total points
ID: 33651987
The host update utility is not available with vsphere 4.1, so that option is only good enough to get your host(s) to 4.0.

To go directly from 3.5 to 4.1, you'll need to either use Update Manager after upgrading your Vcenter server to 4.1, or use the offline upgrade mentioned above.

If you are using remote storage, you could just install 4.1 after detaching your storage and then reconfigure your networking and other settings.  This really isn't that big of an undertaking for most setups.  Just take screenshots within the VI client of all of your network, storage and user configurations prior to the installation.

The official upgrade guide is at: and all of the other docs including an HTML based library at:


Assisted Solution

frederi earned 83 total points
ID: 33670083
As danm66 stated, you cannot upgrade with Host Update Utility to 4.1.
Moreover, if you are using Vcenter, you will need to install the latest version, which runs only on 64bit Windows. As we just ran into this issue, I'd rather say it even if it's useless, this way I'm sure you won't have the same problem :)
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Assisted Solution

simonseztech earned 167 total points
ID: 33670940

Author Comment

ID: 33707907
hi i read the upgrade guide and it said upgrade to esx4 also need to upgrade all guess os, is there a way to do it fast?
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Accepted Solution

danm66 earned 167 total points
ID: 33708051
You should update the tools on all of your guests.  quickest ways is to use Update Manager if you have vCenter or within the client, click on the host on the left side then click on Virtual Machines tab to the right.  From there you can do a multi-select (shift-click or ctrl-click's) of the VM's then right-click and select Install/Upgrade VMware tools.

You don't have to upgrade virtual hardware and it's really not likely to be beneficial with most 32bit windows versions unless you need one of the newer device types for enhanced throughput.  The newer hardware version uses more memory within the guest as there are more virtual PCI slots and such, so I wouldn't be in a hurry to upgrade the hardware.  

Those are the only guest OS upgrades I know of.

Author Comment

ID: 33821381
thanks i will give it a go and see what happen.

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