How to Assign a License to VMware ESXi Host

When you prepare to run VMware ESXi in vSphere environment, you need to get a license key first. This article will introduce how to assign a license to ESXi host.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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Overview of VMware ESXi license

VMware licenses are 25-character strings that includes letters and digits, divided into 5-character blocks with the “-” symbol. The license keys contain encrypted information about the purchased product edition and are not tied to hardware. You can assign the same VMware ESXi license key to multiple ESXi hosts until the total number of processors exceeds the CPU (central processing unit) capacity allowed by the license.

ESXi hosts are licensed with VMware vSphere licenses on a per-processor basis. VMware ESXi free is more suitable for personal environment or family lab since it has multiple limitations on vStorage API, CPU, memory size, etc. For enterprise running multiple VMs, it’d better to add a paid license to ESXi host, which enables third-party backup tools to interact with the hypervisor directly and increase the high-availability of virtual machines. For ESXi Evaluation version, it’s better to add a license until the evaluation period expires.

This article introduces how to add license to ESXi host step by step.

Note: A multicore CPU is counted as one CPU if the number of physical CPU cores is not higher than 32. If a CPU has more than 32 cores, then an additional CPU license must be applied. The amount of RAM and the number of running VMs are not limited by VMware licenses.

VMware ESXi license

How to add license to ESXi host (2 Ways)

There are 2 ways to add a license to ESXi host. You can choose follow of them to get started.

Way 1. Add license to ESXi host via Web Client

1. Open VMware ESXi web and enter the IP address of the ESXi host that you want to license.

2. Select Manage, then click on Licensing >> Assign license.

add license to ESXi host

3. In the opened wizard, enter the license key and click Check license to verify whether the license key is valid. If you see the green icon, please select Assign license to add this license to the ESXi host.

assign license to ESXi host

4. Back to the Licensing tab, you can notice the information of the ESXi host which shows the license has been successfully added to VMware ESXi host.

add license information

Way 2. Assign a license to ESXi host via vSphere Client

1. Login to VMware vSphere Client.

2. Access to Hosts and Clusters, select your Datacenter, then click on an ESXi host with license.

3. Select Configuration >> Licensing >> Assign License.

add license in vSphere Client

4. In the Assign License window, you can assign an existing license that has unused CPUs to ESXi host if you added multiple license keys to vCenter. And you can also assign a new license key to VMware ESXi host. For example, select New License.

5. Enter the license key, then type a name for the license. Click OK.

enter license and name in vSphere Client

6. In the Assign License dialog box, select the newly created license, and click OK.

select newly created license

No matter which ESXi license you use, you should back up your virtual machines regularly for data protection.

Free and agentless backup solution for licensed VMware ESXi host

For VMware ESXi backup, it’s available for you to clone VM, copy files of virtual machine and export VM to OVF. However, these methods usually require you to do them manually and one-by-one, making it difficult to take advantage of the benefits of licensed VMware ESXi - centralized backup and management.

To protect virtual machines in batch and simplify the data management, it's best to use a professional backup software. Here I will use the free VMware backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup as an example. It supports VMware ESXi 6.0-7.0 except ESXi hosts using the free ESXi license due to disabled VMware APIs. It is an agentless backup tool that offers automatic and flexible backups for VMware ESXi virtual machines. With this professional backup tool, you can schedule comprehensive backup tasks for free.

Perpetual Free: No time limit for AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition.
Support Free ESXi: AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Agentless Backup: Backup virtual machines at host level without installing agent on each VM, reducing O&M costs.
Automate VMware Backup: Run VM backup tasks automatically to offer continuous VM protection and reduce human errors.
Instant Disaster Recovery: Once the VMware crashes, quickly restore VMware to normal state and easily migrate VM to another host.
Role-Assignment: allow one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privilege, effectively reduce administration cost and manual errors.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup for free:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Safeguard VMware ESXi backup for free:

1. Click Backup Task >> Create New Task to schedule VMware ESXi backups.

create VMware ESXi Backup

2. In the opened wizard, enter the Task Name and select VMware ESXi Backup.

✦ In Device Name section, select one or more virtual machines to back up simultaneously.

select multiple virtual machines

✦ In Target section, specify a location to store VM backups such as network or local place. If you connect to NAS, you can easily backup VM to NAS.

Backup Target

✦ In Schedule section, enable schedule task and choose full/incremental/differential backup, then specify backup time and frequency as daily/weekly/monthly.

schedule VMware backup

✦ Click Start Backup. From the drop-down menu, you can decide to perform backup later or now.

3. Restore: You can restore the whole VM and virtual environment within a few clicks. It doesn’t require any complicated reinstallation and configuration.

✍ While the Free Edition covers most of the VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
✦ Batch VM Backup: Batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or standalone ESXi hosts.
✦ Backup Cleanup: Configure retention policy to auto delete the old backup files and save storage space.
✦ Restore to new location: Easily make a clone of a virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host, without reinstalling or configuring a new VM.

Restore to new location


This article describes how to add license to ESXi host. You can assign a license in VMware Host Client for a standalone ESXi host and in VMware vSphere Client for ESXi hosts that are managed by vCenter Server.

No matter which ESXi license you use, you should back up your virtual machines regularly, which protects your data and business security.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.