[Beginner’s Guide] VMware Bare-metal Installation

VMware ESXi is a bare-metal hypervisor that can be installed on bare-metal hardware to access and control underlying resources directly. This article will show you the detailed steps of how to install VMware ESXi on bare-metal.


By Crystal / Updated on December 2, 2022

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What is VMware ESXi

Starting to explore virtualization with VMware ESXi is considered to be a good choice. It is the industry leader for efficient architecture, setting the standard for reliability, performance, and support.

As a key component of VMware vSphere suite, VMware ESXi is a robust, bare-metal type-1 hypervisor that installs directly onto your physical server. With direct access to and control of underlying resources, VMware ESXi effectively partitions hardware to consolidate applications and cut costs.

VMware ESXi logo

Before you can start using VMware ESXi, the first thing you need to do is to install it on a bare-metal server, which is a server that doesn’t have an operating system installed. This article will show you the specific steps of VMware bare-metal installation.

How to install VMware ESXi on bare-metal hardware

Before you start, please make sure your hardware is compatible with the version of VMware ESXi you want to install. You can check it on VMware’s official compatibility guide, or use VMware compatibility tools.

Then you can start VMware bare-metal installation step by step. You can perform automated installation with PXE, VMware Auto Deploy or manual installation with Bootable USB/CD or IPMI.

This article will show you how to install VMware ESXi 6.5 from USB as an example. Let’s start by creating a bootable USB.

How to create a bootable USB

To burn ESXi ISO to USB before start using it to install ESXi, you need to prepare the following items in advance.

  • VMware ESXi ISO image downloaded from VMware’s official website.
  • Empty USB flash drive (minimum 8GB) that supports the installation of ESXi.
  • Tools like Rufus to make the USB bootable.

Here are the specific steps:

1. Connect the USB flash drive to your computer. Launch Rufus, and select your USB drive as Device.

2. Click SELECT to specify the ESXi ISO image you download, and add a name to Volume label.

3. Select MBR as Partition scheme, BIOS or UEFI as Target system type, and select FAT32 as File system.

Rufus create ESXi bootable USB

4. Click START. It will pop up a window informing that the boot menu on the ESXi ISO is obsolete, and it will connect to the Internet to download a new file to replace it. Click Yes to continue.

Rufus Replace menu.c32

5. There may be another prompt informing you that the installation USB media will be reformatted and all data destroyed. Click OK to continue.

Rufus waning all data destroyed

How to install VMware ESXi on bare-metal server from USB

1. 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. Accept the End User License Agreement (EULA) and proceed.

VMware End User VMware License Agreement

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

Note: The USB drive will also as an option for destination drive. And yes, you can also select to install and run ESXi from USB stick.

Select a disk to install

4. Select a keyboard layout.

Select a keyboard layout

5. and then enter a root password to continue.

Enter a root password

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

Confirm install

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

Installation complete

When the ESXi bare-metal install completes, the next thing you need to do is to configure the host as your own needs.

VM data protection: regular virtual machine backup

After you have completed the VMware bare-metal installation and configuration, you are free to create and manage virtual machines. But don’t forget that there’s still one thing you must attach importance to, that is to keep the business data safe.

Currently the most widely adopted measure for virtual machine data protection is image-level backup via third-party software. Although some VMware built-in features can be used to back up virtual machines, in these ways you can only back up multiple VMs manually. This may be enough for several VMs on VMware Workstation, but for enterprises managing large amounts of VMs on VMware ESXi, it may not be sufficient.

Therefore, backup software is popular in this regard. For example, an effective free VMware backup software AOMEI Cyber Backup, it enables you to backup multiple VMs on both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi, restore entire VMs, and automate VM protection.

ESXi backup

Using AOMEI Cyber Backup, you can enjoy the following features:

Agentless VM Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs in a central console.
Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, NAS or network share.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.
Restore Entire VM: restore immediately available VMs from any selected restore points.
Role Assignment: allows one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges.
Perpetual Free: you can use AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition with no time limit.

With its user-friendly interface, you will learn how to operate it without any expertise. You can click the following button to download the freeware.

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

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


VMware ESXi is the bare-metal hypervisor in the VMware vSphere virtualization. In this article, I showed you the specific steps of how to install VMware ESXi on bare-metal hardware.

In addition to VMware ESXi, vCenter Server is another key component of vSphere suite. It is the centralized management utility for VMware, and is used to manage virtual machines, multiple ESXi hosts, and all dependent components from a single centralized location. To install it you can refer to How to Install vCenter on ESXi or Windows (Step by Step)

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.