VMWare Verison Upgrade

Samantha Smith
Samantha Smith used Ask the Experts™

I have a client with 2x Virtual Machines (critical) on a VMWare 5.5 Server (the free version).  
They have upgraded to an additional processor, but now want to add more RAM.  The version of VMWare will not support this.
How do I safely upgrade to the Paid version of 5.5, or the Free version of 6.0, which I beleive handles more RAM?

Many Thanks.
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If you change the license to a paid version, all you should need to do is paste in the new license information in vSphere.  Otherwise, if you're upgrading to a new version of esxi, just need to run the installer on your esxi partition and it'll upgrade to the newer version.

I'd make sure you have good full recovery backups first, but I've never had any issues with an upgrade aside from minor hardware driver problems for NICs.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

VMware Sphere Hypervisor supports 4TB of RAM. (even the free version!).

Why do you think it will not support more RAM ?

You can see the evidence and proof of this in my EE Article

HOW TO: What's New in VMware vSphere Hypervisor 5.5 (ESXi 5.5)

To upgrade to the PAID version is simple, purchase VMware vSphere Essentials at $700 approx, and then add the new License Key to the host, select the host > configuration > licensed features > Edit, and then add the new key, and Assign it.

This can be done with VMs running. does not affect them.

Please note 5.5 licenses are different to 6.0 licenses, therefore you may have to downgraded the 6.0 license to 5.5, and apply it. Otherwise you will need to install ESXi 6.0.

Please check your hardware is compatible for ESXi 6.0.

(and upgrade will require VM downtime!).


Andrew, sorry, I have my version numbers wrong.  We have version 5.0
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VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017
Ah, well version 5.0....

options upgrade to

1. 5.5 for free.
2. 6.0 for free.
3. Purchase a license for 5.0 (and that'll will require purchasing a 6.0 license and downgrading it!)
4. Purchase a license for 6.0

So basically, insert the 5.5/6.0 CDROM in the Server, and following the installation wizard.

Make sure you have a FULL Backup of VMs, in the datastore, and when prompted select Y(YES) to preserve VMFS which is the datastore which contains the VMs.

see my EE Articles here

HOW TO: Install and Configure VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.0 (ESXi 6.0)

HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.0 (ESXi 6.0) using the vSphere Client (C# client)

So without downtime....

1. Purchase a 6.0 license.
2. Downgrade it to 5.0.
3. Apply license.

No downtime required.


Thanks again Andrew.
Of course, it's the VM backup I am also concerned about, having the FOC version of VMWare means I cannot use Veeam or similar for the backup.
I will read your articles.
Thanks you.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

If you need to Backup, you will need to purchase a License - maybe!

Unless you investigate and using GhettoVCB or Trilead VM Explorer, which claim, they can backup without using a License!

Other Backup Product exist as well, as Veeam....
I recommend Veritas System Recovery (formerly Symantec System Recovery) for image based backups.  For your purposes you can use the 30 day trial to perform a full image backup (it's unrestricted)- but it's a reliable product you may want to consider implementing.

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