With the software-based iSCSI implementation, you can use standard NICs to connect your host to a remote iSCSI target on the IP network. The software iSCSI adapter that is built into ESXi facilitates this connection by communicating with the physical NICs through the network stack.

When you use the software iSCSI adapters, consider the following:

  • Designate a separate network adapter for iSCSI. Do not use iSCSI on 100 Mbps or slower adapters.
  • Avoid hard coding the name of the software adapter, vmhbaXX, in the scripts. It is possible for the name to change from one ESXi release to another. The change might cause failures of your existing scripts if they use the hardcoded old name. The name change does not affect the behavior of the iSCSI software adapter.

The process of configuring the software iSCSI adapter involves several steps.

Step Description
Add or Remove the Software iSCSI Adapter Activate your software iSCSI adapter so that your host can use it to access iSCSI storage.
Modify General Properties for iSCSI or iSER Adapters on ESXi Hosts If needed, change the default iSCSI name and alias assigned to your adapter.
Configure Port Binding for iSCSI or iSER on ESXi Configure connections for the traffic between the iSCSI component and the physical network adapters. The process of configuring these connections is called port binding.
Configure Dynamic or Static Discovery for iSCSI and iSER on ESXi Host Set up dynamic discovery. With dynamic discovery, each time the initiator contacts a specified iSCSI storage system, it sends the SendTargets request to the system. The iSCSI system responds by supplying a list of available targets to the initiator. In addition to the dynamic discovery method, you can use static discovery and manually enter information for the targets.
Set Up CHAP for iSCSI or iSER Storage Adapter If your iSCSI environment uses the Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP), configure it for your adapter.
Set Up CHAP for Target You can also configure different CHAP credentials for each discovery address or static target.
Enable Jumbo Frames for Networking If your iSCSI environment supports Jumbo Frames, enable them for the adapter.

Add or Remove the Software iSCSI Adapter

You must activate your software iSCSI adapter so that your ESXi host can use it to access iSCSI storage. If you do not need the software iSCSI adapter after activation, you can remove it.

You can activate only one software iSCSI adapter.


Required privilege: Host.Configuration.Storage Partition Configuration

Note: If you boot from iSCSI using the software iSCSI adapter, the adapter is added and the network configuration is created at the first boot. If you remove the adapter, it is added again each time you boot the host.


  1. In the vSphere Client, navigate to the ESXi host.
  2. Click the Configure tab.
  3. Add or remove the adapter.
    Option Description
    Add the software iSCSI adapter
    1. Under Storage, click Storage Adapters, and click Add Software Adapter.
    2. From the drop-down menu, select Software iSCSI Adapter and confirm that you want to add the adapter.

      The software iSCSI adapter (vmhba#) is added and appears on the list of storage adapters. After adding the adapter, the host assigns the default iSCSI name to it. You can now complete the adapter configuration.

    Remove the software iSCSI adapter
    1. Under Storage, click Storage Adapters, and select the adapter (vmhba#) to remove.
    2. Click the Properties tab.
    3. From the Adapter Status Actions menu, select Disable and confirm that you want to deactivate the adapter.

      The adapter will be marked for removal. The adapter will be removed from the host on next host reboot.

    4. Reboot the host.

      After the reboot, the adapter no longer appears on the list of storage adapters. All virtual machines and other data on the storage devices associated with this adapter become inaccessible. You can later activate the adapter.