VMware ESXi – How to extend the license expiration period of an ESXi server

The installable version of ESXi hosts is always installed in evaluation mode.

The evaluation period is 60 days and begins when you turn on the ESXi host.

The evaluation license provides the set of features equal to a vSphere Enterprise Plus license.

When the evaluation period ends, the ESXi host will disconnect from vCenter Server. All powered on virtual machines continue to work, but you cannot power on virtual machines after they are powered off. You cannot change the current configuration of the features that are in use. You cannot use the features that remained unused before the license expiration.

There is however an easy way to extend the license expiration period, or actually reinitialise the counter back to 60 days.

  • Log on to the ESXi host via SSH
  • Execute the following commands:
    • mv /etc/vmware/license.cfg etc/vmware/license.cfg.old
    • cp /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg /etc/vmware/license.cfg
    • /etc/init.d/vpxa restart

As you can see in the below screenshots the evaluation period has been extended (Note: Date format is US (mm/dd/yyyy), procedure was executed on 02 OCT 2021):


  1. I tried to run this today, but it still says “Failed to power on virtual machine Mgmt DHCP. License key has expired. Click here for more details. ”

    Running Client version:

    Client build number:

    ESXi version:

    ESXi build number:

    1. OK Update. I found another post that said to also run this command before the restart of the services.

      rm /etc/vmware/vmware.lic

      and that worked for me. I can keep training on a budget for my certifications =)

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