Enable SSH access on VMWare ESXi 5.x server

SSH access is disabled by default on VMWare ESXi 5.x servers but sometimes it’s useful to use the command-line when you want to shrink VMDK files or quickly move virtual machines from one datastore to another. In this short tutorial I’ll show you how to enable SSH access on your ESXi server.

Log into your ESXi server and go to the configuration tab.

VMWare ESXi Configuration

Now select the Security Profile and click on Properties in the upper right corner.

VMWare ESXi Configuration Security Profile

Here you will see all the services that are available on your ESXi server. Some of them are running by default but others like SSH are stopped.  Select SSH and click on Options.

VMWare ESXi Service Properties

Now you see a number of options. I want SSH to start and stop with the host, select the option and click on Start. Once the status shows Running you can click on OK.

VMWare ESXi SSH Options

Now you will be able to login using SSH.

# ssh root@192.168.81.59
Password: *******
The time and date of this login have been sent to the system logs.

VMware offers supported, powerful system administration tools.  Please
see www.vmware.com/go/sysadmintools for details.

The ESXi Shell can be disabled by an administrative user. See the
vSphere Security documentation for more information.
~ # 

That’s all there is to it, have fun working on the CLI of your VMWare ESXi server. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.