How to Install Virtual Machine on VMware ESXi Step by Step

In VMware ESXi virtual machines, you can run a different operating system in an isolated environment, which is beneficial for testing, development and other purposes. This article offers detailed steps to install VM on ESXi host.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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Install VM running on ESXi host

ESXi is VMware’s Type 1 hypervisor that runs directly on system hardware without the need for an OS. It is the critical piece vSphere designed to deploy and serve virtual computers. You can run different OSs efficiently by installing VM on ESXi host.

In VMware, a new virtual machine is similar to a physical computer with an empty hard drive and no operating system. You need to install a guest OS to make your virtual machine to be fully functional. This is typically accomplished through the vSphere Web Client by attaching a CD-ROM, DVD, or ISO image containing the installation image to the virtual CD/DVD drive.

Downloading and installing an ISO image is the recommended to create a new virtual machine in VMware ESXi. In short, you should first place the ISO image in a location that is accessible to ESXi. Typically, the ISO image is uploaded to a datastore accessible to the ESXi host where the guest OS installation will be performed.

Next, I am going to introduce how to install VM on ESXi host step by step.

how to install vm on esxi

How to install VM on ESXi 7.0 step by step

VMware released vSphere 7 in April 2020 which is the key components of this updated virtualization platform. Next, I will show you how to create a new virtual machine in VMware ESXi 7.0.

How to create VM on ESXi 7.0:

1. Log in to vSphere Client, and access to Hosts and Clusters >> Actions >> New virtual machine.

2. To install a new VM on ESXi, select Create a new virtual machine >> Next.

create a new virtual machine on ESXi

3. Enter a name for the new virtual machine, and then select a location for it.

select name and location of ESXi VM

4. Select the ESXi host to run a new virtual machine. Moreover, you can notice the “Compatibility checks succeeded” which means that everything is correct, and you can continue.

select ESXi host for VM

5.  Select a datastore where the virtual machine files, including the virtual disk files, will be stored. You should make sure that there is enough free space on the selected datastore.

select esxi datastore

6. Select compatibility for this virtual machine depending on the ESXi hosts used in your environment. The ESXi 7.0 compatibility level is used for the VM hardware version 17 and supports all vSphere 7 features.

Tips: If you have older ESXi hosts (ESXi 6.5, ESXi 6.7), select the lowest ESXi version to be able to migrate virtual machines to those ESXi hosts from a host running ESXi 7.0.

select compatibility

7. Select a guest OS family and then select a guest OS version.

Guest OS Family: Windows

Guest OS Version: Windows 10 (64-bit)

8. Expand settings to configure virtual hardware. Especially for the CPU and Memory, you should select the proper number of processors and CPU cores, and allocate enough memory for the virtual machine.

configure virtual hardware

9. Check configuration for your new VM and click Finish to install the new VM.

Now you can find the new virtual machine you created and go to Actions >> Power >> Power On to start the VM.

Tips: Besides, if you want to install a virtual machine running ESXi, you could install ESXi on Workstation VM.

At the same time, you should know the importance of data protection. In the event of human errors, system corruption, power outage, etc., it’s possible to loss all of your business data stored in virtual machines. According to 3-2-1 backup rule, you can back up VM to different onsite or offsite devices.  For example, you can backup VM to an external USB drive, network attached hard drives, NAS, SAN, or Firewire devices. 

The most common and reliable way is to use a professional backup tool to protect data seamlessly. Here, I will introduce a free VMware backup software to show the easy backup process.

Free VMware ESXi backup solution to safeguard VM data

As you may know, neither free ESXi host nor vCenter Server provides the feature of virtual machine backup. The professional and agent-less backup solutions usually provides better support for VMware virtual machines.  Here I will introduce a free VMware backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup as an example.

It supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi & Hyper-V, and enables you to create image backups of multiple VMs at once. Besides the basic data protection, you can also develop a flexible backup strategy to save the labor and reduce administration costs. 

Enjoy more benefits from this free VMware image backup software:

Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Easy-to-use: backup and restore multiple virtual machines via central console without complicated configuration and reinstallation.
Auto image backup: Schedule image backups flexibly, and create cleanup policy to auto delete old backups.
Centralized Backup: Perform multiple VMs backup simultaneously from a central console.
Fast VM restore: Recover an entire VM quickly and easily, without any complicated reinstallation and configuration.
Restore from history version: For VMs that have been backed up multiple times, you can select any of the history versions to restore.

Hit the button below to download AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

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

How to protect virtual machines on ESXi for free

1. Navigate to AOMEI Cyber Backup, then add your VMware device (you can add vCenter Server or Standalone ESXi) and click Backup Task >> Create New Task to schedule VM image backup and restore in VMware.

create vm backup

2. In the opened wizard, do as followings to backup VM at image level.

✦ Enter a Task Name and select VMware ESXi Backup as an example.

vmware esxi backup

✦ On Device Name section, select virtual machines you want to backup.

select vms for backup

✦ On Target section, specify a location to store VMs.

select backup target

✦ On Schedule section, choose full/incremental/differential backup to keep tracking virtual machine data and select the time and frequency (daily/weekly/monthly), which protects business security all the time.

schedule vm backup

✦ Click Start Backup. It allows you to select start backup now or later.

3. When a backup is complete, you can restore VM from image backups by clicking the Restore button. Then select a VM backup and click Restore to original location.

restore vm

✍ While the Free Edition covers most of the VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to enjoy:
Batch VM backup & restore: batch backup and restore large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or on 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.


VMware ESXi virtual machine allows you to run multiple operating systems efficiently. In this article, I have described how to install VM on ESXi. It’s simple to create a new virtual machine in VMware ESXi by installing ISO image. When you install the VM on ESXi, please note the steps mentioned before to make sure that you can power on the VM successfully.

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.