ESXi Shell and SSH interfaces are disabled by default. Keep these interfaces disabled unless you are performing troubleshooting or support activities. For day-to-day activities, use the vSphere Client, where activity is subject to role-based access control and modern access control methods.

Note: Access the host by using the vSphere Client, remote command-line tools (ESXCLI and PowerCLI), and published APIs. Do not enable remote access to the host using SSH unless special circumstances require that you enable SSH access.


If you want to use an authorized SSH key, you can upload it. See ESXi SSH Keys.


  1. Browse to the host in the inventory.
  2. Click Configure, then click Services under System.
  3. Manage ESXi, SSH, or Direct Console UI services.
    1. In the Services pane, select the service.
    2. Click Edit Startup Policy and select the startup policy Start and stop manually.
    3. To enable the service, click Start.
    When you select Start and stop manually, the service does not start when you reboot the host. If you want the service to start when you reboot the host, select Start and stop with host.

What to do next

Set the availability and idle timeouts for the ESXi Shell. See Create a Timeout for ESXi Shell Availability and Create a Timeout for Idle ESXi Shell Sessions.