VMware ESXi restore configuration

VMware ESXi restore configuration is what this article is about and applies to a single host configuration with local storage (DAS).

What do you need to restore your host backup config file:

A. Your host backup configuration file.
B. A bootable cdrom or USB pendrive containing the same version and release build number at the time you created your host backup.

This topic only applies to restore your host configuration.

Vmware esxi restore configuration – let’s get started

Restore your VMware ESXi host configuration by reading the next lines carefully. I assume you have created a host backup file. If not you are in trouble!

1. First run a fresh ESXi installation on your corrupted ESXI host which needs to be repaired. Be aware you don’t want to overwrite your local storage as this contains probably your VM’s! In case you did install your VM’s and the EXSi files on your local storage, you need to follow this procedure.
As we do not want to overwrite the storage containing the VM’s therefore we need to have a separate disk to install the new ESXi files.  In this example I use one USB pen drive with a bootable EXSi installation and one USB pen drive which I am going to use as destination for my new ESXi installation. In this way we are sure not to do any damage on the local storage which is containing the VM’s.

Just plug in the bootable USB pen drive with ESXi and leave the second pen drive disconnected. Boot your host from the USB drive and start the installation.

2. In the Welcome to the VMware ESXi installation Window press Enter to Continue.
3. Press F11 to Accept and Continue

Now it starts to scan all attached drives. After this is finished you will see the Select a Disk to Install or Upgrade Window.
4. Now put in the ESXi destination USB pen drive and press F5 to refresh the inventory drive list. After this the new USB pen drive will appear in the list. Select the new USB pen drive and press Enter to continue.

The USB pen drive I used was formatted and contains no data.

5. The Confirm Disk Selection Window appears telling us the selected disk will be overwritten. Press enter for OK.

Note: In case you select a disk containing a previous ESXi installation you will get a window where you can select Install or Upgrade. Please be aware what selection you choose from here. If you choose Install and the disk also contains your VM’s then this will be overwritten.

6. Select keyboard layout; press Enter to continue.
7. Enter root password. Write this down as we need this later. Just choose a simple password without characters like @ of $.
8. The Confirm Install Window appears and then select F11 to install.
9. At the end you will see a Window with Installation Complete. Now remove the installation pen drive, leave the destination pen drive inserted and press Enter to Reboot.

Be sure you select the USB pen drive as first boot device. You now have a fresh ESXi host. Now we need to restore your ESXi configuration from the backup file.

VMware ESXi restore host configuration – final steps

10. First you need to install VMware vSphere CLI tools on your client computer. In order to download you need to login to VMware.com with your registered account.

Once logged in go to Download VMware vSphere section, select your version (in this example I used version 5.1), select Drivers & Tools, Automation Tools and SDK’s and choose VMware vSphere CLI 5.1.
The CLI tool needs to be installed on a computer with Windows XP or Windows 7. In my case I use Windows XP.

11. Once installed the CLI tools, go to Start – Programs – VMware – VMware vSphere CLI and select Command Prompt.

Before you restore a configuration backup you need to know your host IP address and the root password.

12. In the Command Prompt box type the following command:

vicfg-cfgbackup.pl –server [your host IP] –username root –password [your root password] –load [backup location and filename] -f

For example:

vicfg-cfgbackup.pl –server –username root –password Yamaha@13 –load c:backup11102013.cfg -f



The best way is to use Notepad++ to create the restore command and then past it into the CLI Command Prompt. Do not use Windows Notepad as it screws up the command line and will result in this error:

Server version ” at ‘https://localhost:443/sdk/vimService.wsdl’ unsupported.


After you run the command you will see:

The restore operation will reboot the host.
Type ‘yes’ to continue:

Uploading config bundle to configBundle.tgz …
Performing restore …

Note: If you do not use the -f switch the restore will fail. According to many fora this error is caused by restoring a different build number then the fresh Esxi installation. I’m not sure about this statement because in my test lab I was restoring identical build numbers and still got restore failed.

Restore failed: fault.MismatchedBundle.summary

Once you successfully went through this VMware ESXi restore configuration topic you now probably have successfully restored your ESXi host backup.

Additional notes concerning VMware ESXi restore configuration

Some additional commands from DCUI:

Accessing the local ESXi Shell = ALT+F1
Exit the local ESXi Shell = ALT+F2

To enter maintenance mode: vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_enter
To exit maintenance mode: vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_exit

It’s important to create a backup your single ESXi host in case of a failure. Please visit the VMware ESXi backup configuration page for more details how to backup your VMware ESXI configuration. As I already mentioned, VMware ESXi restore is only possible if you dumped your configuration to a backup file.

This topic about VMware ESXi restore host configuration is tested by Marcel van der Graaf in a lab demo setup. I hope this topic will help engineers to make a proper host backup and also make people aware of the risk they might take not having backup’s at all.

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