If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably installed ESXi 5.5 and upgraded your virtual machine hardware via the vSphere client (ignoring the warnings) and found that you can no longer manage your VM configuration as you don’t have a vCenter license and access to the new web-client. Or maybe you are running an older VM hardware in 5.5 (like 7) and want to bring it to hardware level 8 or 9, but not lose configuration ability in vSphere 5.5.  It’s easy to “downgrade” your hardware level without re-converting the VM or doing any heavy lifting.

WARNING: Create a snapshot before doing the steps below, you won’t need it, but you can’t be too safe!

Scenario 1: You upgraded your VM from hardware version 9 (vmx-09) to 10 and want to roll back to version 9 (vmx-09):

  1. Shut down the virtual machine in the vSphere client.
  2. Remove your virtual machine from the ESXi inventory.
  3. Browse your Datastore and find the virtual machine’s .vmx file.   Download it to your desktop.
  4. Open the .vmx file in Notepad or your favorite text editor.
  5. Find the following line (usually line 3) in your configuration and change the “10” to a “9”
    virtualHW.version = “10” will become virtualHW.version = “9”
  6. Save the file and overwrite your existing .vmx file.
  7. Upload the file to the same location your downloaded the file from in step 3.
  8. Add the machine to inventory and start it up.

Scenario 2: You are on an older VM version and want to upgrade it to 9 using vSphere 5.5:

  1. Shut down the virtual machine in the vSphere client.
  2. Right click your VM and select “Upgrade Virtual Hardware”.  You will now be on version 10 hardware.
  3. Remove your virtual machine from the ESXi inventory.
  4. Browse your Datastore and find the virtual machine’s .vmx file.   Download it to your desktop.
  5. Open the .vmx file in Notepad or your favorite text editor.
  6. Find the following line (usually line 3) in your configuration and change the “10” to a “9”
    virtualHW.version = “10” will become virtualHW.version = “9”
  7. Save the file and overwrite your existing .vmx file.
  8. Upload the file to the same location your downloaded the file from in step 4.
  9. Add the machine to inventory and start it up.

That’s it!  You can now use vSphere 5.5 to manage your hosts just like you did in 5.1 or 5.0.



12 Responses to How to Downgrade VMware ESXi 5.5 Virtual Machine Hardware Version to 9 from 10

  1. Ron D says:

    Thanks for this. There are two additional comments I’d like to make —

    (1) if you log into one of your esxi servers via SSH, you can edit the vmx file directly in the shell by doing the following —

    * cd /vmfs/volumes/{name of your datastore volume}/{name of your virtual machine}
    * vi {name_of_your_vm}.vmx

    (2) Removing the vm from inventory and add it back in. I confirmed this is necessary.

    Thanks for leading me down the right path! 🙂

    • Mike Waldron says:

      You’re absolutely right about using vi, and possibly backing up the vmx file via cp and SSH versus browsing the datastore and doing these steps via vSphere. I figure the datastore method is more idiot-proof so that’s why I opted to instruct using this method versus yours. When I encountered this issue I used vi too!

      I updated the article removing the part where it may not be necessary to remove the VM from inventory. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Daniel says:

    Useful article, thanks. I’m running ESXi 5.5 and wanted to upgrade to vmx-09 to keep the configuration functionality within the Windows vSphere client.

  3. Russ says:

    What about using the VMware Standalone Converter as I did in my SSD installation?

  4. Lewis says:

    Can you also do this by creating a new VM and attaching the disks?

  5. You might also consider downgrading the VMTools

  6. Otto says:

    Very good! tks!

  7. […] How to Downgrade VMware ESXi 5.5 Virtual Machine Hardware Version to 9 from 10 […]

  8. Ytsejamer1 says:

    If you want to UPgrade to a hardware version that isn’t the maximum (e.g. vmx10), you can use PowerCLI to do it. Courtesy of VirtuallyGhetto: http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2013/10/quick-tip-using-cli-to-upgrade-to.html

    > Set-Vm -VM (Get-VM -Name [VM-NAME]) -Version v[HW-VERSION]

  9. Some vm guy says:

    Instructions above would not work at all on vcenter 5.5. I finally used the standalone converter to do a V2V and specify what version I needed. Thanks!

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