[Step-by-Step Guide] How to Install Guest OS on VMware ESXi

Whether setting up a single VM or configuring an enter virtual infrastructure, VMware ESXi provides a powerful platform for creating and managing virtual machines with ease. Next, this article will provide you a step-by-step guide showing how to install guest OS on VMware ESXi VMs.


By Crystal / Updated on December 14, 2023

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What is VMware ESXi

Virtualization is now widely adopted by organizations and enterprises to save on costs and resources. And VMware ESXi is one of the most popular type-1 bare-metal hypervisors to make this happen.

VMware ESXi is the core component of the VMware vSphere virtualization suite. It provides direct access and control of the underlying resources, allowing you to create multiple virtual machines and run different guest operating systems (OSs) on a single host.


Therefore, running different guest OSs on a host is convenient for all kinds of development and testing. So, to get started with virtualization, how to install guest OS on VMware ESXi VMs? Next, this article will provide you with a step-by-step guide.

How to install a guest OS on VMware ESXi VM

With VMware’s intuitive interface and high compatibility with a vast array of different OSs, install guest OS on VMware ESXi is a quick and easy process. Here is a detailed step-by-step guide that you can refer to.

1. Access VMware ESXi web client, navigate to Virtual Machines > Create / Register VM to open the wizard.

Create a new VM on VMware ESXi

2. Select creation type as Create a new virtual machine. Click Next.

Select creation type on VMware ESXi

3. Provide a Name and identify the guest operation system Compatibility information.

Identify the new ESXi VM

4. Select a datastore to store the VM files.

Select storage for new ESXi VM

5. Configure the virtual machine hardware and virtual machine additional options.

VMware ESXi customize settings

6. Review the settings and click Finish to create the virtual machine.

Review settings of new ESXi VM

7. Right-click on the virtual machine you just created, and select Edit Settings…

Edit Settings

8. From the Virtual Hardware tab, click to expand the CD/DVD drive 1 option.

Expand CD/DVD drive-1

9. Select Datastore ISO File option, and check Connect At Power On option below.

Select Connect at power on option

10. Click Browse to open the web browser and select the ISO file of the guest OS you want to install. Click OK to save.

Select ISO file

11. Right-click on the virtual machine and select Power On and then Open Console to continue the installation.

Open Console

After you install guest OS on VMware ESXi, don’t forget to install VMware Tools on virtual machine to gain enhanced performance and functionality.

A dedicated ESXi VM backup software – AOMEI Cyber Backup

You may need an effective backup software for VMware ESXi to protect your virtual environment and gain the ability to quickly recover your virtual machines when needed. In this article, I will introduce a reliable VMware backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup, which enables you to backup multiple VMs either managed by vCenter Server, or on a standalone ESXi host.

It simplifies the backup process and present the steps with intuitive GUI interface. In addition, it offers you the following benefits.

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi VMs.
Flexible vSphere Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, or network destinations like Windows share or NAS.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.
Role Assignment: allows one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges.

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions. Next, I will show you how to perform vSphere VM backup and restore via AOMEI Cyber Backup. You can click the following button to download the 30-day free trial.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

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

Steps to backup VMware ESXi VMs via AOMEI Cyber Backup

▶ Backup multiple VMs for a quick walkthrough:

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click > Bind Device.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and select VMware ESXi Backup as the Backup Type.

3. Set the Task Name, Device, Target, Schedule and Cleanup as needed.

  • Task Name: you can change the task name or use the default name with an ordinal.
  • Device: batch backup multiple VMs on vCenter or standalone host within one backup task.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path like NAS.
  • Schedule (optional): perform full, differential, or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.
  • Cleanup (optional): automatically delete the old backup copies that exceed the retention period you specified.

4. Run Backup: Now you can click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.

Restore VM from backup:

5. Restore from Backup: Select the backup task you want to restore, and click ... > Restore to open the wizard.

Or you can click Backup Management > History Versions. Specify a VM and select a restore point from the left list.

6. Start Restore: Choose to Restore to original location or Restore to new location. And click Start Restore to recover the virtual machine in place.

Restore to new location: Create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup to perform out-of-spacre recovery, saves the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Restore to new location


To get started with vSphere virtualization suite, proper installation and configuration is the first thing you set out to do. You may want to know how to install guest OS on VMware virtual machine. This article provides a step-by-step guide of how to install a guest OS on VMware ESXi. Hope it could be helpful.

Once you have stored important business data on a virtual machine, you need to start thinking about how to protect it well. Typically, virtual machine data is protected with an image-level backup. You can try AOMEI Cyber Backup to backup your VMware ESXi VMs.

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.