By Crystal / Last Updated April 25, 2022

What is VMware ESXi free

Is VMware ESXi free? Yes. If you are looking for a free version of ESXi, you can try VMware Free that is a 100% free Hypervisor provided by VMware. You can download it from the VMware website, apply for a key, and use it. However, the free version has many limitations on features, which can be found in the next part.

VMware has also released VMware Evaluation which allows you to enjoy unlimited ESXi features for 60 days. Enterprise Plus requires a fee to use and provides you with powerful hypervisor features forever, and it’s the most advanced version of ESXi.


What are the limitations of free ESXi

In the latest vSphere 7.0, VMware has also released a free version of ESXi, which changes hardware support and the disk layout of the ESXi drive, and the rest remains unchanged.

In the free VMware version of ESXi, it provided some convenience such as not limiting physical memory and the number of cores per CPU. But it also has many limitations.

1. You cannot manage virtual machines through vCenter Server.

If you're an enterprise user, you've probably not considered the free version of VMware ESXi. vCenter Server has a range of advanced features such as vMotion, DRS, Software-defined storage (vSAN), High-Availability, cluster ESXi servers, upgrade Manager.

If you need to perform VMware vSphere H.A Cluster, vCenter Server is necessary to achieve high availability of virtual machines in cluster.

2. vStorage API is not accessible.

VMware doesn't provide vSphere Storage APIs for the free version of ESXi, so it doesn't allow third-party backup tools to interact with the hypervisor, which leads to impossibility of automatic and multiple backups using third-party software for enterprise backup needs. You have to manually back up individual virtual machine in VMware.

For Enterprise users, manual backup is inconvenient and time-wasting. So, vStorage API is crucial to ensure your business safety by interacting with a professional software such as AOMEI Cyber Backup which helps to back up your unlimited virtual machines through central console.

3. Up to 2 physical CPUs per Hypervisor.

4. Up to 8 vCPUs per VM, any other VM with more than 8 vCPUs will not be started.

VMware ESXi free limitations

5. No VMware official support.

With the free version, if you confront problems, you will not be able to contact VMware support office, but you can browse the VMware community to find the solution.

6. With maximum memory 12TB.

ESXi free limitations

Considering these limitations, you may be able to decide whether you need the free version or paid version of ESXi.

If you are new to vSphere ESXi or want to use ESXi in a home lab environment, I recommend you to try the free version which can meet some of your basic requirements.

Next, refer to the following part of ESXi downloads and install the VMware ESXi free version.

How to download and license free VMware ESXi

1. Download VMware ESXi from the VMware website. Pay attention to the compatibility of the free version.

2. Log in to your Customer Connect profile and register it. Then you will get a license key and make a note of it.

donwload ESXi free

3. Select Manually Download to start installing free version of ESXi.

4. Log in to the ESX/ESXi host and click Manage >> Licensing >> Assign License.

5. Enter the license key in the text box. Then click Check license.

6. Review the license keys and click Finish.

How to use backup software to protect unlimited VMs

AOMEI Cyber Backup is a professional backup software to protect your large amounts of virtual machines. It allows to schedule the flexible backup strategies to run multiple backup automatically.

Automatic VMware Backup: Auto backup virtual machines on regular basis to protect VMware workloads continuously.
Instant Disaster Recovery: Once the VMware crashes, quickly restore VMware to normal state and reduce business-critical downtime.
Agentless Backup: Backup virtual machines at host level without installing agent on each VM, reducing O&M costs.

Procedures to back up multiple VMs in a flash

1. Install AOMEI Cyber Backup on the host and bind your devices. Then click Backup Task >> Create New Task.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi 6.0 & later versions
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2. In the task wizard, enter a name and select the virtual machines for backup.

select virtual machines

3. Target: specify the backup destination.

select backup destination

4. Schedule: set up the backup task with flexible strategies such as full/incremental/differential backup and its time.

schedule backup

5. Backup Cleanup: specify the cleaning plan to delete the unwanted backups automatically to save storage.

backup cleanup

6. Click Restore that can achieve instant recovery to original or new host with ease.

restore VM

A reliable third-party backup tool is a powerful assistant for enterprise data security. It’s efficient for virtual machine protection and simplifies the VM management.


After reading this article, I believe you have been familiar with the VMware ESXi Free limitations. If you are in a home labs environment or in the initial stages of learning ESXi, the free VMware version of ESXi is worth a try.

However, if you are in a production environment and need to run workloads with advanced features, the limitations of VMware ESXi free version will impact your work badly, and getting a paid VMware ESXi license may be your best choice.