The compatibility level determines the virtual hardware available to the virtual machine, which corresponds to the physical hardware available on the host machine. You can schedule an upgrade of the compatibility level to make a virtual machine compatible with newer versions of ESXi running on the host.

Use this procedure to schedule an upgrade of one or more virtual machines at the next reboot of the virtual machine, and choose from all supported compatibility level upgrades. To upgrade virtual machines immediately to the latest supported virtual compatibility level, see Upgrade the Compatibility Level for Virtual Machines by Using the vSphere Web Client.

For information about virtual machine hardware versions and compatibility, see Virtual Machine Compatibility. Also see the information about virtual machine compatibility in the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration documentation.

Create a backup or snapshot of the virtual machines. See the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration documentation.

Upgrade VMware Tools. On Microsoft Windows virtual machines, if you upgrade the compatibility level before you upgrade VMware Tools, the virtual machine might lose its network settings.

Verify that all .vmdk files are available to the ESX/ESXi host on a VMFS3, VMFS5, or NFS datastore.

Verify that the virtual machines are stored on VMFS3, VMFS5 or NFS datastores.

Verify that the virtual hardware on the virtual machines is not the latest supported version.

Determine the ESXi versions that you want the virtual machines to be compatible with. See Virtual Machine Compatibility.


Log in to the vCenter Server from the vSphere Web Client.


Select the virtual machines.


Select a datacenter, folder, cluster, resource pool, or host.


Click the Related Objects tab and click Virtual Machines.


Power off the selected virtual machines.


Select Actions > All vCenter Actions > Compatibility > Schedule VM Compatibility Upgrade.


Click Yes to confirm the upgrade.


Select the ESXi versions for the virtual machines to be compatible with.


(Optional) Select Only upgrade after normal guest OS shutdown.

This prevents the scheduled upgrade from occurring unless the guest operating system of the virtual machine is shut down or rebooted normally.

Each of the selected virtual machines is upgraded to the hardware version that you chose at the next reboot of the virtual machine, and the Compatibility setting is updated in the Summary tab of the virtual machine.