How to patch VMware ESX / ESXi without update manager

So, you got a installation up and running. VMware ESX / ESXi and all. But didn’t got the time nor the money to buy a license to update manager. Take no blame, neither did I. Here is a guideline to follow how to get your VMware ESX / ESXi up to date. All you need is to download the patch(es) and enable the SSH to the host. Maintenance mode is highly recommended, but not mandatory. This is also a supported way to patch your installation.

  • Download the patch(es) from
    • ESX / ESXi 5.X users, you are in upper-hand here; you only need to download the latest patch. It includes all the patches previously released
    • Older ESX / ESXi users, sorry no dice. You need to download all the patches starting from one above the release build you have and install the one by one.
      • Enable the SSH to your host.
      • Shutdown all guests gracefully and put the host to maintenance mode
      • Use any tool you want to transfer the patch(es) to your host. Destination to use is datastore[x] root. SCP i.e. will do the job.
      • Login to your host and use the command
        • esxcli software vib install -d /vmfs/volumes/datastore[x]/[PATCH_FILE].zip
      • Patch installation takes about 2 mins and outputs a result. Don’t worry about the skipped part.
      • Reboot the host
    • Login to your host using VSphere client. In the summary tab you can
      see the build number, which should correspond to the patch you installed

      • ESX / ESXi 4.X users see the latest patch installed; the patches are to be installed in order.
      • ESX / ESXi 5.X users; win-win, you are all done. Leave the maintenace mode.
    • Update all your guests VMware tools; not mandatory, but recommended.

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