After you perform an ESX/ESXi upgrade, you have the option of upgrading all the virtual machines that reside on the host to take advantage of new features.

See Virtual Machine Compatibility to determine whether your virtual machines are compatible with the new version of ESXi. For a list of hardware features available to virtual machines with each ESXi compatibility setting, see the vSphere Virtual Machine Administration documentation.

The first step in upgrading virtual machines is to upgrade VMware Tools. If the virtual machines do not have VMware Tools installed, you can use the VMware Tools upgrade procedure to install VMware Tools. After you install or upgrade VMware Tools, upgrade the virtual machine hardware.

Note

Do not use vmware-vmupgrade.exe to upgrade virtual machines.

VMware offers the following tools for upgrading virtual machines:

vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client

Requires you to perform the virtual machine upgrade one step at a time, but does not require vSphere Update Manager.

vSphere Update Manager

Automates the process of upgrading and patching virtual machines, thereby ensuring that the steps occur in the correct order. You can use Update Manager to directly upgrade virtual machine hardware, VMware Tools, and virtual appliances. You can also patch and update third-party software running on the virtual machines and virtual appliances. See Perform an Orchestrated Upgrade of Virtual Machines with vSphere Update Manager and the Installing and Administering VMware vSphere Update Manager documentation.