Use the interactive installation option for small deployments of fewer than five hosts.

In a typical interactive installation, you boot the ESXi installer and respond to the installer prompts to install ESXi to the local host disk. The installer reformats and partitions the target disk and installs the ESXi boot image. If you have not installed ESXi on the target disk before, all data on the drive is overwritten, including hardware vendor partitions, operating system partitions, and associated data.

Note: To ensure that you do not lose any data, migrate the data to another machine before you install ESXi.

If you are installing ESXi on a disk that contains a previous installation of ESXi or ESX, or a VMFS datastore, the installer provides you with options for upgrading. See the vSphere Upgrade documentation.

Interactive ESXi Installation

You boot the installer from a CD or DVD, from a bootable USB device, or by PXE booting the installer from a location on the network. You follow the prompts in the installation wizard to install ESXi to disk.

Install ESXi Interactively

You use the ESXi CD/DVD or a USB flash drive to install the ESXi software onto a SAS, SATA, SCSI hard drive, or USB drive.


  • You must have the ESXi installer ISO in one of the following locations:
    Note: You can also PXE boot the ESXi installer to run an interactive installation or a scripted installation. See Network Booting the ESXi Installer.
  • Verify that the server hardware clock is set to UTC. This setting is in the system BIOS or UEFI.
  • Verify that a keyboard and monitor are attached to the machine on which the ESXi software is installed. Alternatively, use a remote management application. See Using Remote Management Applications.
  • Consider disconnecting your network storage. This action decreases the time it takes the installer to search for available disk drives. When you disconnect network storage, any files on the disconnected disks are unavailable at installation.

    Do not disconnect a LUN that contains an existing ESX or ESXi installation. Do not disconnect a VMFS datastore that contains the Service Console of an existing ESX installation. These actions can affect the outcome of the installation.

  • Gather the information required by the ESXi installation wizard. See Required Information for ESXi Installation.
  • Verify that ESXi Embedded is not present on the host machine. ESXi Installable and ESXi Embedded cannot exist on the same host.


  1. Insert the ESXi installer CD/DVD into the CD/DVD-ROM drive, or attach the Installer USB flash drive and restart the machine.
  2. Set the BIOS or UEFI to boot from the CD-ROM device or the USB flash drive.
    Note: If your system has supported NVIDIA or Pensando data processing units (DPUs), you can only use UEFI to install and boot ESXi on the DPUs.
    See your hardware vendor documentation for information on changing boot order.
    After scanning for available devices completes, if your system has supported DPUs, you see them listed with their respective PCI slots.
  3. If your system has supported DPUs, select the DPU on which you want to install ESXi and press Enter.
    In the DPU Details screen, you see all properties of the DPU device.

    With vSphere 8.0, if your system has supported DPUs, always consider the installation, re-installation or upgrade of ESXi on the DPUs in a lockstep with ESXi on hosts.

  4. On the Select a Disk to Install or Upgrade ESXi page, select the drive on which to install ESXi, and press Enter.
    Press F1 for information about the selected disk.
    Note: Do not rely on the disk order in the list to select a disk. The disk order is determined by the BIOS or EUFI and might be out of order. This might occur on systems where drives are continuously being added and removed.
    If you select a disk that contains data, the Confirm Disk Selection page appears.
    If you are installing on a disc with a previous ESXi or ESX installation or VMFS datastore, the installer provides several choices.
    Important: If you are upgrading or migrating an existing ESXi installation, see the VMware ESXi Upgrade documentation.

    If you select a disk that is in vSAN disk group, the resulting installation depends on the type of disk and the group size:

    • If you select an SSD, the SSD and all underlying HDDs in the same disk group are wiped.
    • If you select an HDD, and the disk group size is greater than two, only the selected HDD is wiped.
    • If you select an HDD disk, and the disk group size is two or less, the SSD and the selected HDD is wiped.

    For more information about managing vSAN disk groups, see the vSphere Storage documentation.

    If you select an SD or USB device, you see a warning that prompts you to select a persistent disk to store the ESXi-OSData partition. In the Select a Disk to store ESX OSData screen, select a persistent storage device with minimum 32 GB available space.

  5. Select the keyboard type for the host.
    You can change the keyboard type after installation in the direct console.
  6. Enter the root password for the host.
    You can change the password after installation in the direct console.
  7. Press F11 to confirm the start of the installation.
  8. When the installation is complete, remove the installation CD, DVD, or USB flash drive.
  9. Press Enter to reboot the host.
  10. Set the first boot device to be the drive on which you installed ESXi in 4.
    For information about changing boot order, see your hardware vendor documentation.
    Note: UEFI systems might require additional steps to set the boot device. See Host Fails to Boot After You Install ESXi in UEFI Mode


After the installation is complete, you can migrate existing VMFS data to the ESXi host.

You can boot a single machine from each ESXi image. Booting multiple devices from a single shared ESXi image is not supported.

What to do next

Set up basic administration and network configuration for ESXi. See After You Install and Set Up ESXi.

Install ESXi on a Software iSCSI Disk

When you install ESXi to a software iSCSI disk, you must configure the target iSCSI qualified name (IQN).

During system boot, the system performs a Power-On Self Test (POST), and begins booting the adapters in the order specified in the system BIOS. When the boot order comes to the iSCSI Boot Firmware Table (iBFT) adapter, the adapter attempts to connect to the target, but does not boot from it. See Prerequisites.

If the connection to the iSCSI target is successful, the iSCSI boot firmware saves the iSCSI boot configuration in the iBFT. The next adapter to boot must be the ESXi installation media, either a mounted ISO image or a physical CD-ROM.


  • Verify that the target IQN is configured in the iBFT BIOS target parameter setting. This setting is in the option ROM of the network interface card (NIC) to be used for the iSCSI LUN. See the vendor documentation for your system.
  • Deactivate the iBFT adapter option to boot to the iSCSI target. This action is necessary to make sure that the ESXi installer boots, rather than the iSCSI target. When you start your system, follow the prompt to log in to your iBFT adapter and deactivate the option to boot to the iSCSI target. See the vendor documentation for your system and iBFT adapter. After you finish the ESXi installation, you can reenable the option to boot from the LUN you install ESXi on.


  1. Start an interactive installation from the ESXi installation CD/DVD or mounted ISO image.
  2. On the Select a Disk screen, select the iSCSI target you specified in the iBFT BIOS target parameter setting.

    If the target does not appear in this menu, make sure that the TCP/IP and initiator iSCSI IQN settings are correct. Check the network Access Control List (ACL) and confirm that the adapter has adequate permissions to access the target.

  3. Follow the prompts to complete the installation.
  4. Reboot the host.
  5. In the host BIOS settings, enter the iBFT adapter BIOS configuration, and change the adapter parameter to boot from the iSCSI target.
    See the vendor documentation for your system.

What to do next

On your iBFT adapter, reenable the option to boot to the iSCSI target, so the system will boot from the LUN you installed ESXi on.