[Solved] How to Replace ESXi Host with New Hardware

If you want to upgrade your ESXi infrastructure, how to replace ESXi host with new hardware? And how to perform V2V migration to move virtual machines from the original host to another host? This article will show the answer to you.


By Crystal / Updated on December 28, 2022

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Case: How to replace ESXi host with new hardware?


I have a 3 node VMware cluster consisting of Dell Poweredge servers. Two of these hosts are about to hit Dell's warranty limitation of 7 years and will need to be replaced with new kit. Can anyone tell me or point me towards an idiot guide on how to replace physical hosts in a cluster? I'm hoping that it is possible without major trauma but it's not something I've had to do before so I could use some pointers. Many thanks

- Question from community.spiceworks.com

You may want to replace your ESXi host with new hardware for some purpose, for example, you want to upgrade your VMware infrastructure to a higher version, with the new release of vSphere 8, or your old hardware is just about to reach warranty limitation, as in the case above.

vSphere vMotion

So, how should you get started? What needs to be backed up and how could you safely migrate the virtual machines on your old host? This article will answer these questions for you.

Preparations before replace ESXi host with new hardware

For those of you who have already installed and configured an ESXi host, reconfiguring a new one may be very simple. However, to migrate your environment to a new hardware, you may still need some preparations in advance.

  • Compatibility check: To ensure these virtual machines are compatible with the target host on the new hardware, you need to perform a compatibility check in advance. For example, CPU compatibility and EVC.
  • Backup all ESXi VMs and configurations: backup before any risky operation is effective to avoid data loss caused by unexpected errors. Third-party software is commonly used to backup ESXi VMs. You can try AOMEI Cyber Backup to efficiently batch back up multiple VMs.
  • Install ESXi, vCSA on the new hardware: the new hardware need to be installed and configured with ESXi to replace the old host. You can refer to VMware Bare-metal Installation and How to Install vCenter Step by Step.
  • Add the new host to cluster: add the new host with storage array host clusters to ensure that the new hosts can access the same shared storage as the original cluster.

Steps to install ESXi, vCSA on the new hardware

Before you migrate ESXi VMs to another host and replace the original one, you need to install ESXi and vCSA on the new hardware in advance. You can use USB to install the hypervisor on bare metal. Here are some steps that you can refer to.

Install VMware ESXi on bare-metal from USB

1. Create a bootable USB via Tools like Rufus, and Connect your bootable USB drive to the host, and change the boot order to boot from the USB drive in the BIOS boot menu.

ESXi boot menu

2. The installer will scan and display all drives on the host available for installation. Select the destination drive you want to install ESXi on.

Select a disk to install

3. Enter a root password to continue.

Enter a root password

4. The installer will rescan the system, and then display the Confirm Install window. Select Install to continue.

Confirm install

5. Wait for the installation process to complete, and then eject the USB from the host and reboot the system.

Installation complete

Install vCSA on the new hardware

1. Download VMware vCenter Server Appliance ISO image from the official site, and then mount the ISO image as a virtual DVD drive.

2. Navigate to vcsa-ui-installer\win32 directory and find installer.exe, right-click on installer.exe and select Run as administrator.

Note: If you are using Linux, navigate to vcsa-ui-installer\lin64 and run installer.exe.

3. On the interface of vCenter Server Installer application, click Install to start the installation.

Install a new vCenter Server

4. Follow the wizard of stage 1 vCenter Server deployment, select I accept the terms of the license agreement option, and click Next.

Stage 1 deploy vCenter Server

5. Follow the wizard to specify the vCenter Server deployment target settingsthe VM settings, the deployment size, the storage location, and the network for this vCenter.

Configure network settings

6. Review the settings and click Finish to initialize stage 1 deployment. When it completes, click Next to continue stage 2 vCenter Server setup.

Stage 2 set up vCenter Server

7. Set the time Synchronize mode, SSO configuration, accept CEIP, and Click Next to review the settings. Then you can click Finish to initialize the setup.

Configure CEIP

2 Ways to migrate ESXi VMs to another host

To replace ESXi host with new hardware and replicate VM to another host, there are 2 ways you can choose from.

  • vSphere vMotion: vSphere vMotion is a feature that live migrates ESXi VMs to another host while the guest operating system is running. This feature requires relevant VMware licenses to acquire.
  • Backup and restore: If you don't have the license or you use the free VMware ESXi without vMotion, you can back up the guest VMs on the original host and restore them to the new host as a workaround.

migrate ESXi VMs to another host via vSphere vMotion

1. Log in vSphere web client, and right-click a VM and select Migrate.

2. On Select the migration type page: select Change compute resource only which means only to migrate the virtual machines to another host or cluster and do not change the storage. Then click Next.

move a vm to another host

3. On Select a compute resource page: see all available hosts on the box, and select a target host that you want to migrate to, then verify the compatibility. Click Next.

4. On Select networks page: select a new destination network for the virtual machine migration. You can keep the VM network as default, and click Next.

5. On Select vMotion priority page: select Schedule vMotion with high priority. Click Next.

select vmotion priority

6. On Ready to complete page: view all settings, if you are satisfied with them, click Finish to complete the migration to another host. Then you can go to the target host to check if the migration is successful.

Batch backup guest VMs on original host and migrate to new host

Backing up all VMs can not just protect your important data from loss, but also allows you to restore to another host for purposes like migration. You can try the VMware backup software AOMEI Cyber Backup to help you with the migration.

It supports both paid and free VMware ESXi 6.0 and later versions, and allows you to cover multiple VMs in one task. Binding 2 hosts and then you can easily restore the VMs to the new host.

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.

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.

vmware esxi backup

3. Set 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: you can batch select large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server, or multiple VMs on a standalone ESXi host for centralized backup.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path.

Backup target

  • 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.

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.

4. Restore to new location: When restoring, you can also restore to new location to create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saving the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Restore to new location


If you want to upgrade your VMware infrastructure to a higher version, then you may need to replace ESXi host with new hardware. Before you start, you need to perform compatibility check and data backup to avoid errors and data loss.

This article showed how to replace ESXi host with new hardware. Except for this, if you don’t have the required license for hot cloning, you can also export the virtual machines to OVF to perform V2V migration.

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.