How to Reset VMware Root Password Without Reinstalling ESXi
You will set a root password when starting using ESXi host, but over time, you may not remember the VMware root password. However, in some specific cases, you want to reset VMware root password without reinstalling the ESXi host. So what should you do?
Case: How to reset VMware ESXi 6.7 root password
Is there a way to reset forgotten root password on ESXi host 6.7? Per VMware, the only way is to reinstall ESXi on the host, but I would hate to migrate my VM's to another host.
- Question from Spiceworks Community
According to VMware, reinstalling an ESXi host is the only supported method for resetting VMware root password. However, Starting with ESXi 4.1, the host profile feature was introduced. If the host is managed by vCenter and is still connected, you can reset ESXi root password by taking advantage of the host profile feature.
How to reset VMware ESXi root password (2 ways)
There is no default root password in VMware ESXi, so when you log in ESXi, you are required to enter your IP address, root name and password first. You'd better write down your root password to cope with the following scenarios:
- Upgrade VMware ESXi.
- vCenter goes haywire and is inaccessible and requires the local root account remains for authentication.
If you forget your password and don't want to reinstall your ESXi hosts, what should you do? Remember to take a backup or snapshot before you start again to avoid data loss due to the risk of operation.
Way 1. Reset ESXi root password via Host Profile
You can use Host profiles to reset ESXi root password in ESXi 6.5/6.7/7.0, and please refer to the following steps.
1. Login to the vCenter Web client.
2. Navigate to Home, and then choose Host Profiles >> Extract Host Profile.
3. In the Extract Host Profile menu wizard, enter a name and description for the selected Host Profile and click Next and then Finish to complete the capture of the host profile template.
4. Right-click the new Host Profile and choose Edit Settings.
5. In the opened wizard, from Edit host profile, search for root and reset a new password and confirm it.
6. You have changed the password. Then right-click the Host Profile and select Attach/Detach Hosts and Clusters. Select the host you have changed the password, and click Attach.
7. From the Action Menu, select Maintenance Mode >> Enter Maintenance Mode. During this period, the virtual machine needs to be shut down, so please ensure if your task has downtime.
8. From the Action Menu, select Remediate, then select host to remediate.
9. Check Host Compliance.
10. After the host reboots, exit the maintenance mode.
Way 2. Reset VMware root password by editing the “shadow” file
If it’s not available for you to use vCenter to reset your password, you can try another method: use a Live Linux CD/DVD/USB to reset VMware root password. ESXi saves the root password encrypted in a password file located in /etc/shadow . I will remove the password hash in located in 2 partitions in order to create a new password in the DCUI console.
1. Download a live Linux CD/DVD, and I choose the Gparted LiveCD.
2. Burn a USB or CD/DVD with the Live CD/DVD and boot your host off it.
3. Locate the 2 partitions sized 249.98MB. The /dev/sda5 and /dev/sda6 are what we’re after assuming you installed ESXi on the first available hard drive/ssd. This could differ if, for example, you installed ESXi on a USB device or SD card. We will be editing the /dev/sda5 partition first followed by the /dev/sda6.
4. Open a terminal window and run the following commands in the exact order as listed.
● Run these commands to get to the shadow password file.
mkdir /boot /temp
mount /dev/sda5 /boot
cp state.tgz /temp
tar -xf state.tgz
tar -xf local.tgz
● Then use vi to edit the shadow password file.
Just move to the line starting with the root and delete the string between the first 2 colons. Use the Delete key. When done, enter :wq followed by Enter.
● Continue by running the following batch of commands.
tar -cf local.tgz etc/
tar -cf state.tgz local.tgz
mv state.tgz /boot
5. Remove the Gparted media and boot the ESXi host. Once the ESXi host has completed booting, log on as root from the DCUI console. You should be able to log in without typing in a password. Now you may reset a new password.
This method is not supported by VMware, but it works on various versions of ESXi. When resetting VMware root password, the most important thing is to make a VMware backup before performing this operation.
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✦ In the opened wizard, enter a task name and choose VMware ESXi Backup.
✦ On Device Name pane, select the host and virtual machines you want to backup.
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This article introduced how to reset VMware ESXi root password without reinstalling ESXi host, which saves a lot of time. When you are resetting ESXi root password, if your virtual machines do not have downtime, you should migrate your virtual machines, as well as backup VMware ESXi VMs.