How to Shutdown vSAN Cluster with vCenter Hosted in It

It you run your vCenter Server on a vSAN datastore, you need to follow the proper procedures to shut down the cluster to avoid data loss. This article will show you the steps.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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What is VMware vSAN

If your organization opens a remote office/branch office (ROBO), you may notice that vSAN is being used for local storage. VMware vSAN (virtual SAN) is an enterprise storage virtualization software that supports hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) systems. It is fully integrated with VMware vSphere, as a distributed layer of software within the ESXi hypervisor.

vSAN datastore

vSAN is designed for organizations to create a virtual storage network using their existing server infrastructure. It allows organization to pool their server storage resources and present them as a shared storage pool that can be used by virtual machines running on the vSphere platform. VMware vSAN helps to simplify storage management and reduce costs by eliminating the need for separate storage hardware. 

The use cases for vSAN

Besides ROBO (Remote and Branch Offices), vSAN is also often used in the following cases:

  • Virtual machine storage: The primary use case for vSAN is to provide storage for virtual machines running on the vSphere platform. By pooling the storage resources of the servers in the cluster, vSAN can provide scalable, high-performance storage for virtual machines.
  • Disaster recovery (DR): vSAN can be used to create a highly available storage infrastructure that is resilient to hardware failures. By replicating data across the nodes in the cluster, vSAN can ensure that virtual machine data is protected in the event of a hardware failure.
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): vSAN can be used to provide scalable and cost-effective storage for virtual desktops running on the vSphere platform.
  • Private cloud: vSAN can be used as part of a private cloud infrastructure to provide scalable and flexible storage for virtual machines...

If you set up a vSAN cluster in your vSphere environment, and also run the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) in that vSAN cluster, you need to follow the proper procedures to shutdown vSAN, or you may suffer data loss.

Next, this article will show you how to properly shutdown vSAN cluster with vCenter running on it.

How to shutdown vSAN cluster with vCenter hosted in it

Before you start, please note that once the server cluster is shutdown, its shared datastore is inaccessible to clients. Therefore, to shut down vSAN cluster with vCenter Server hosted in it, it is important to backup VMware ESXi VMs and follow the proper procedures to avoid any potential data loss or corruption.

Here are the steps to safely shut down vSAN cluster with vCenter hosted on it:

1. Log in to vSphere web client and check vSAN health service. Power off all virtual machines stored in the vSAN cluster, except for the vCenter Server VM, vCLS VMs and file service VMs.

Shut down Guest OS

2. Migrate vCenter to another ESXi host or to the first host (recommended by VMware) so that you can easily find it when restart the vSAN cluster.

Migrate VCSA

3. Select the vSAN cluster and navigate to Monitor > vSAN > Resyncing Components to verify no vSAN components are currently resyncing.

Resyncing components

4. Right-click the vCenter Server VM and select Power > Shut Down Guest OS. It will make the vSphere Web Client unavailable.

Shut down Guest OS

5. Run the following ESXCLI command to put the member ESXi hosts of the vSAN cluster into maintenance mode.

esxcli system maintenanceMode set -e true -m noAction

Then you can shut down the ESXi hosts.

A dedicated vSphere backup software – AOMEI Cyber Backup

You may need an effective backup software for VMware vSphere to protect your virtual environment and gain the ability to quickly recover your virtual machines when needed. In this article, I will introduce an efficient vSphere 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 and Hyper-V 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

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 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 perform vSphere backup and restore via AOMEI Cyber Backup

Backup multiple VMs:

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.

By selecting Restore to new location option, you can 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


Shutting down a cluster will make its shared datastore inaccessible to clients. Therefore, to avoid accidental data loss, you need to backup VMs and follow the proper procedures to shut down a vSAN cluster, especially when the vCenter Server is hosted on this cluster. This article showed you how to properly shutdown vSAN cluster with vCenter hosted in it.

To backup your VMs, you can try AOMEI Cyber Backup, it allows you to backup ESXi VMs and restore them to another host at an affordable price.

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.