Reset the root password of an ESXi server

Some time ago I needed to make a SSH connection to a new installed ESXi server. The default  root password the customer was using was not working. The admin who installed the ESXi server didn’t known the password anymore. So i needed to reset the password. The VMware Knowledge Base states the following on resetting the root password on ESXi:

Reinstalling the ESXi host is the only supported way to reset a password on ESXi.  Any other method may lead to a host failure or an unsupported configuration due to the complex nature of the ESXi architecture. ESXi does not have a service console and as such traditional Linux methods of resetting a password, such as single-user mode do not apply. Link

I didn’t have the time to reinstall the ESXi server.I remember that Host Profiles has an option to reset the root password. Host Profiles is a feature of the Enterprise plus license. The customer license was Enterprise and not Enterprise Plus. So I requested a 60 day trail license of VMware vSphere. The trail include a Enterprise Plus license.

Here is an overview of the steps to reset the root password:

  • Enter the trail license in the vSphere Client  and register the host with the trail license
  • Put the host in Maintenance mode
  • Open the vSphere Client
  • In Host Profiles, Create a Profile from existing host and select the host, enter the Name
  • Nagivate to the security configuration, Administrator Password and select “Configure a fixed administrator password”
  • Enter the new root password twice


  • Attach the host profile to the host


  • Right-click the host and select Apply Profile


  • Wait till the Host Profile Compliance status is Compliant. The root password is now changed!


  • Test if it is possible to SSH to the ESXi host
  • Delete the Host Profile


  • Change the license from Enterprise Plus to the original license
  • Remove the Enterprise Plus license
  • Exit maintenance mode

1 thought on “Reset the root password of an ESXi server”

  1. Thank you very much, great guide!

    Unfortunately I couldn’t change the password by some strange reason, but I managed to upload my ssh key and change the passwords manually

Leave a Comment