You can configure virtual machines running on an ESXi host to start up and shut down with the host or after a delay. You can also set the default timing and startup order for virtual machines. This way, the operating system has enough time to save data when the host enters maintenance mode or is being powered off for another reason.

The Virtual Machine Startup and Shutdown (automatic startup) setting is deactivated for all virtual machines residing on hosts that are in a vSphere HA cluster. Automatic startup is not supported with vSphere HA.

Note: You can also create a scheduled task to change the power settings for a virtual machine. See vCenter Server and Host Management.


  1. In the vSphere Client, navigate to and select the host where the virtual machine is located.
  2. Click the Configure tab.
  3. Under Virtual Machines, select VM Startup/Shutdown and click Edit.
    The Edit VM Startup/Shutdown Configuration dialog box opens.
  4. Select Automatically start and stop the virtual machines with the system.
  5. (Optional) In the Default VM Settings pane, configure the default startup and shutdown behavior for all virtual machines on the host.
    Setting Description
    Startup Delay After you start the ESXi host, it starts powering on the virtual machines that are configured for automatic startup. After the ESXi host powers on the first virtual machine, the host waits for the specified delay time and then powers on the next virtual machine. The virtual machines are powered on in the startup order specified under the Default VM Settings pane.
    Continue if VMware Tools is started Shortens the startup delay of the virtual machine. If VMware Tools starts before the specified delay time passes, the ESXi host powers on the next virtual machine without waiting for the delay time to pass.
    Shutdown delay Shutdown delay is the maximum time the ESXi host waits for a shutdown command to complete.

    When you power off the ESXi host, the autostart manager initiates the automatic shutdown on the first virtual machine and waits within the specific delay time for the virtual machine to complete the power action. The power action can be Power Off, Guest Shutdown, or Suspended.

    The order in which virtual machines are shut down is the reverse of their startup order. After the ESXi host shuts down the first virtual machine within the time that you specify, the host shuts down the next virtual machine. If a virtual machine does not shut down within the specified delay time, the host runs a power off command and then starts shutting down the next virtual machine. The ESXi host shuts down only after all virtual machines are shut down.

    Shutdown action Select a shutdown action that is applicable to the virtual machines on the host when the host shuts down.
    • Guest Shutdown
    • Power Off
    • Suspend
    • None
  6. (Optional) You can also configure the startup order and behavior for individual virtual machines.
    Use this option when you need the delay of the virtual machine to be different from the default delay for all machines. The settings that you configure for individual virtual machines override their default settings.
    1. To change the startup order of virtual machines, select a virtual machine from the Manual Startup category and use the up arrow to move it up to the Automatic or Automatic Ordered categories.
      Use the up and down arrows to change the startup order for virtual machines in the Automatic and Manual Startup categories. During shutdown, the virtual machines shut down in the reverse order.
    2. To edit the startup and shutdown behavior of a virtual machine, select a virtual machine, use the up arrow to move it, and click the Edit icon.
      The Virtual Machine Startup/Shutdown setting dialog box opens.
    3. In the Startup Settings pane, configure the startup behavior of the virtual machine.
      You can decide to use the default startup delay or you can specify a new one. If you select Continue immediately if VMware Tools starts, the ESXi host powers on the next virtual machine without waiting for the delay to pass.
    4. In the Shutdown Settings pane, configure the shutdown behavior of the virtual machine.
      You can use the default shutdown delay or specify a new one and select the shutdown action.
    5. Click OK.
  7. Click OK.