Enabling and Accessing SSH in VMware ESXi

Secure Shell (SSH) is a powerful tool that provides secure remote access to VMware ESXi hosts. Enabling and accessing SSH is essential for advanced configuration, troubleshooting, and management tasks, especially when direct access to the ESXi host is necessary.

In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of enabling and accessing SSH in VMware ESXi. Understanding how to securely enable and use SSH can help streamline administrative tasks and enhance the management of your virtual infrastructure.

Step 1: Enable SSH in ESXi Host

To enable SSH in an ESXi host, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the vSphere Client or vCenter Server.
  2. Select the ESXi host you want to enable SSH for from the “Hosts and Clusters” view.
  3. Click on the “Configure” tab and select “Security Profile” under the “System” section.
  4. In the “Services” section, click “Edit” next to “SSH.”
  5. Click “Start” to enable the SSH service.
  6. If you want SSH to start automatically with the host, change the “Start and stop with host” option to “Start and stop manually.”
  7. Click “OK” to save the changes and enable SSH.

Step 2: Access ESXi Host via SSH

Once SSH is enabled, you can access the ESXi host using an SSH client such as PuTTY (Windows) or Terminal (macOS/Linux). Follow these steps to connect to the ESXi host via SSH:

  1. Open your SSH client and enter the IP address or hostname of the ESXi host you want to connect to.
  2. Specify the SSH port, which is usually port 22, unless you have configured a different port.
  3. Provide your ESXi host’s root credentials when prompted.
  4. You are now connected to the ESXi host via SSH, and you can execute commands and perform administrative tasks.

Step 3: Closing SSH Session

Remember to close your SSH session properly after completing your tasks to maintain security:

  • Simply type “exit” and press “Enter” to close the SSH session.
  • Ensure you disconnect securely from the SSH client to prevent unauthorized access.

Important Security Considerations:

Enabling SSH provides powerful access to the ESXi host, and it is essential to consider the following security measures:

  • Use Strong Passwords: Ensure your ESXi host’s root password is strong and kept confidential.
  • Limit SSH Access: Restrict SSH access to trusted administrators only and consider using firewall rules to control SSH access from specific IP addresses.
  • Disable SSH When Not in Use: If SSH access is not needed, consider disabling it to reduce the attack surface.
  • Keep ESXi Updated: Regularly update your ESXi host to the latest version to ensure security patches are applied.


Enabling and accessing SSH in VMware ESXi provides a secure method for remote management and troubleshooting tasks. By following this comprehensive guide, you can confidently enable SSH and access your ESXi hosts, enhancing your ability to manage and maintain your virtual infrastructure efficiently.

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