To set up a host provisioned with vSphere Auto Deploy to boot from disk, you must configure a host profile. You can apply that host profile to other hosts that you want to set up for stateful installs.

You can configure the host profile on a single host. You can also create a host profile on a reference host and apply that host profile to other hosts.


  • Decide which disk to use for storing the image, and determine whether the new image will overwrite an existing VMFS partition.
  • Set up your environment for vSphere Auto Deploy. See Preparing for vSphere Auto Deploy.
  • Verify that a disk with at least 4GB of free space is available. If the disk is not yet partitioned, partitioning happens when you apply the host profile.
  • Set up the host to boot from disk. See your hardware vendor's documentation.
  • Create a host profile. See the Host Profiles documentation.


  1. Navigate to Home > Policies and Profiles > Host Profiles.
  2. Click the host profile you want to configure and select the Configure tab.
  3. Click Edit Host Profile.
  4. On the Edit host profile page of the wizard, select Advanced Configuration Settings > System Image Cache Configuration > System Image Cache Configuration.
  5. In the System Image Cache Profile Settings drop-down menu, choose a policy option.
    Option Description
    Enable stateful installs on the host Caches the image to a disk.
    Enable stateful installs to a USB disk on the host Caches the image to a USB disk attached to the host.
  6. (Optional) If you select Enable stateful installs on the host, specify information about the disk to use.
    Option Description
    Arguments for first disk

    By default, the system attempts to replace an existing ESXi installation, and then attempts to write to the local disk.

    You can use the Arguments for first disk field to specify a comma-separated list of disks to use, in order of preference. You can specify more than one disk. Use esx for the first disk with ESX installed on it, model and vendor information, or specify the name of the vmkernel device driver. For example, to have the system first look for a disk with the model name ST3120814A, second for any disk that uses the mptsas driver, and third for the local disk, specify ST3120814A,mptsas,local as the value of this field.

    The first disk setting in the host profile specifies the search order for determining which disk to use for the cache. The search order is specified as a comma delimited list of values. The default setting localesx,local specifies that vSphere Auto Deploy should first look for an existing local cache disk. The cache disk is identified as a disk with an existing ESXi software image. If vSphere Auto Deploy cannot find an existing cache disk, it searches for an available local disk device. When searching for an available disk vSphere Auto Deploy uses the first empty disk that does not have an existing VMFS partition.

    You can use the first disk argument only to specify the search order. You cannot explicitly specify a disk. For example, you cannot specify a specific LUN on a SAN.

    Check to overwrite any VMFS volumes on the selected disk If you select this check box, the system overwrites existing VMFS volumes if not enough space is available to store the image, image profile, and host profile.
    Check to ignore any SSD devices connected to the host If you select this check box , the system ignores any existing SSD devices and does not store image profiles and host profiles on them.
  7. Click Save to complete the host profile configuration.

What to do next

Apply the host profile to individual hosts by using the Host Profiles feature in the vSphere Client. See the Host Profiles documentation. Alternatively, you can create a rule to assign the host profile to hosts with the vSphere Client or by using PowerCLI. See Write a Rule and Assign a Host Profile to Hosts.

  • Create a rule that applies the host profile to all hosts that you want to provision with the settings specified in the reference host. For writing a rule in a PowerCLI session, see Write a Rule and Assign a Host Profile to Hosts.
  • For hosts that are already provisioned with vSphere Auto Deploy, perform the test and repair compliance operations in a PowerCLI session, see Test and Repair Rule Compliance.
  • Power on unprovisioned hosts to provision them with the new host profile.