Is vCenter Free and How to Choose vCenter

vCenter Server offers numerous benefits to manage virtual machines. Is vCenter free to use these advanced features? This article will answer your question and offers you a detailed comparison.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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Is vCenter Server free?

The vCenter Server is a centralized platform for managing vSphere environments. It allows you to assign custom roles to users, create new VMs, search the vCenter Server inventory, etc. with just a few clicks. vCenter Server is the main management component of vSphere which adds a range of advanced features such as vMotion, DRS, Software-defined storage (vSAN), High-Availability, cluster ESXi servers, upgrade Manager, etc.

vCenter has numerous benefits for enterprises to manage virtual machines. So do you want to try the features of vCenter Server? Or do you want to download vCenter for free?

Unfortunately, there's no free version of vCenter. Therefore, an enterprise user may probably not consider the free version of VMware ESXi. Almost all customers of paid ESXi licenses will also purchase a vCenter Server license so that those licenses ESXi servers can be centrally managed.

is vcenter free

VMware vCenter editions comparison

It’s worth keeping in mind that even with a paid version of type-1 hypervisor ESXi, you will still need a vCenter Server license to use any clustering features or want to unlock features such as Clustering, High Availability (an automatic reboot of VMs on a failed host to a healthy host), Cloning and Fault Tolerance.

In addition, if you are looking to add other VMware solutions to the datacentre including vSAN, vSphere Replication or Site Recovery Manager, then all of those solutions require access to a vCenter Server.

However, getting the product name wrong can result in various costly consequences including purchasing the wrong product or an older version with differentiating feature sets. So here, you should know the 3 editions of VMware vCenter Server 7.0.

  • vCenter Server for Essentials: Basic management for vSphere Essentials Kits
  • vCenter Server Foundation: More advanced management for smaller businesses aimed at monitoring and controlling VMs.
  • vCenter Server Standard: High-end management enabling the optimization and control of all VMs in a vSphere environment.

compare vcenter edition

How much does vCenter cost

You should know that a paid version of ESXi does offer some benefits (such as VADP backup abilities) but without a vCenter Server license, most of the benefits are not available. You could compare the vCenter version and choose the suitable one.

vCenter Server Essentials price

VMware vSphere Essentials (include vCenter Server Essentials) price:

▶ Basic Support: $576.96/year $686.77/3years

VMware vSphere Essentials Plus Kit (include vCenter Server Essentials) price:

▶ Basic Support: $5596.00/year $7188.44/3years

▶ Production Support: $5781.00/year 7676.84/3years

vsphere essentials price

vCenter Server Foundation price

▶ Basic Support: $2095.00/year $3013.40/3years

▶ Production Support: $2197.00/year $3282.68/3years

vcenter server foundation

VMware vCenter Server Standard price

▶ Basic Support: $7472/year $9599.08/3years

▶ Production Support: $7719/year $10251.16/3years

vcenter server standard

VMware vSphere 7.0 is a reliable, flexible, and efficient virtualization platform. VMware constantly works to improve its functionality by adding more new features and improving the existing ones. With the help of vCenter 7.0, organizations can now build scalable virtual environments for running, managing, and protecting their virtual machines and applications.

VMware Environment Protection with AOMEI Cyber Backup

As you may know, vCenter Server does not provide the feature of virtual machine backup. And that makes backup software a commonly accepted choice.

AOMEI Cyber Backup is an efficient and flexible VMware backup software that ensures that your VMware virtual environment is fully protected with the help of VM backup and recovery.

If you use free VMware ESXi, in addition to not having vCenter Server, your options may also have been limited by not supporting vStorage APIs. Luckily, AOMEI Cyber Backup support both paid and free ESXi.

AOMEI Cyber Backup is flexible for your IT infrastructure supporting ESXi 6.0 and its later versions.

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
 Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
 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, or monthly.

AOMEI Cyber Backup

AOMEI Cyber Backup simplifies a complete backup task, and next, I will demonstrate how to create one. Please download and try the 30-day free trial:

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
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4 Steps to batch backup VMs on vCenter Server

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.

Bind device

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: batch select large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server for centralized backup.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path. According to 3-2-1 backup rule, you should store VM files to different places in case of data failure.

select backup target

  • Schedule (optional): perform full, differential, or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.

schedule VM backup

  • Cleanup (optional): configure retention policy to auto delete the old backup files and save storage space.

backup cleanup

4. Run Backup: 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.

5. When necessary, click Restore to achieve fast recovery from any backed-up history version.

Restire from backup task

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.

It only requires several steps to create multiple VM backups and run it automatically, which safeguards virtual machine data automatically and keep business continuity all the time.

restore VM


In this article, we answer whether vCenter is free. Besides, we compare the different versions of vCenter and their prices. If you need to run the paid ESXi version or to use any clustering features, a paid vCenter version is required.

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.