How to update VMWare ESXi 4 to 4.1 The Easy Way

I know, I know, version 5 5.1 is now out but I came across an issue a while back when I needed to upgrade my work VMWare ESXi test box from 4 to 4.1 update 1 and thought it might be handy for future reference.

So, I needed to upgrade from 4 to 4.1, update 1 and couldn’t use the update manager as for some reason it simply didn’t want to play with that particular machine. Fortunately VMware provide some pretty nice command line tools for free!

Firstly you’ll need the ESXi 4.1 upgrade files, these are available as a zip from the VMware site, while you’re there also download the VCLI tools which are available from the same area. To get hold of them you’ll need to create or use your free login.

Tip: It’s also worth checking that your hardware is compatible with the update as VMWare is notorious for having issues with certain non standard setups, you can use their server compatibility tool here or if, like me your rocking it on a home made box check out the lists at UltimateWhitebox.

While you’re waiting, shutdown any running client machines on the server you intend to upgrade and pop it into maintenance mode.

Once you’ve got them, install the VCLI tools, them track them down in your Start Menu and open the VCLI Command Prompt.

Using standard DOS commands ‘cd’ your way to the ‘bin’ directory located on the installation path of the tools. In my case it’s:

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware vSphere CLI\bin

When you’re there check where you put the update zip file and also the IP of the ESXi box you want to upgrade, then run the vihostupdate perl script as the follwing command: –server serverIP –install –bundle c:\zipfile

It will then as you for the admin credentials of your server and then process the update before prompting you to reboot your ESXi server. When it comes back up remember to take it out of maintenance mode and you are good to go!


If you’re getting strange errors when you try to run the update pearl script and you copied and pasted it into the command prompt, delete it and enter it manually.


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