How To Enable SSH And ESXI SHELL In VMware

Sometimes, for very ordinary things, you need to help your brain to make better decisions on more important issues. Enabling SSH on ESXi can be as challenging as you can. That’s why I try to explain how to activate, so if anyone needs it you do not need to go a lot.

To enable SSH on VMware ESXi hosts, you can do two things:

  • Via ESXi Console
  • Via the vSphere Client window

1- Activate SSH and ESXi Shell via ESXi Console

Access to the ESXi host console is not always easy. At least in commercial environments that require physical access to servers during security procedures. However, if you are using ESXi in your lab or if you have physical access to the server, activating SSH is simply possible in a few steps.

Initially, by pressing the <F2> key, enable the ESXi Console login window.

In the Authentication Required window, enter the user name and password of the host and press the Enter key.

In the System Customization window, scroll down and select the Troubleshooting Option and press the Enter key.

You will see four options on the page. You can enable or disable SSH and ESXi Shell by selecting any of these options. Selecting an option and pressing Enter will change the setting between active and inactive.

As shown in the image, if the option allows you to enable (enable) it means disable it in the present. (In the lower-case image of SSH and ESXi Shell both are active)

In the sample image, as you can see, the option selected is Disable ESXi Shell, which means that ESXi Shell is currently active and will be disabled if the Enter key is pressed.

Finally, exit the console environment by pressing the ESC key.

2. Activate SSH and ESXi Shell by vSphere Client

Connect to the ESXi host or vCenter via vSphere Client.

Click on the car.

On the Configuration tab, click on the Security Profile option in the left pane of the Software section.

In the Services and Firewall section, you see active services running. The SSH Server service probably does not appear on this list, which means it’s inactive.

Click Properties at the top of the screen.

Remote Access Services Remote Access Services is visible in the Remote Access window. In this list, you will see the services of SSH and ESXi Shell, which probably will show the Stopped option to stop them.

Find the SSH option and click on Option; a new window opens where you can enable or disable the SSH service. There are three options in the Startup Policy section, respectively

  1. When the port 22 is open, it automatically starts the service.
  2. Starting up with the host (VMware ESXi) and shutting it off, it starts.
  3. Manually start and stop (for the sake of security this is our offer)

Now you can connect to the VMware ESXi with SSH Client. If plugged in, check the VMware ESXi firewall.

After activating SSH, you can connect to programs like Kitty and Putty .

Security alert

Enable SSH when you need it and disable it after use for more security. Here are some examples of cases that enable SSH:

  • Update VMware ESXi
  • Install Patches
  • Use cli
  • Copy the file to VMware ESXi
  • And things that you do not have in the GUI environment can do the worst.


Sabir Hussain Soomro
About Sabir Hussain Experienced IT Specialist with a history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in VMware ESX, Domain Name System (DNS), DHCP, VoIP, Water Backup Solutions, Adobe Connect, Servers, and Data Center. but quickly found a large following of readers and subscribers. Connect on: Google + or Feel free to network via Twitter.@VMGate110

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