Virtual Machine Versions: Differences and how to upgrade

You’ve probably seen it; when you create a new virtual machine under vSphere, you’re asked to choose a hardware version

Version 4

  • Runs on ESX 3.0 and later – including vSphere – VMware Server 1.0 and later.
  • Recommended when you’re sharing storage with ESX 3 or 3.5 machines.
  • Use if you need to migrate virtual machines back to ESX 3.x for anything.

Version 7

  • Runs on vSphere 4.0 and later as well as VMware Server 2.0.
  • Use when you don’t need to migrate machines back to ESX 3.x servers. You cannot run version 7 virtual guests under versions of ESX prior to 4.0.

The table below shows you the primary differences between the two virtual hardware versions.

 

Version 4

Version 7

Default for vSphere 4.0+

No

Yes

Default for ESX 3.5x and lower

Yes

N/A

RAM

65 GB

255 GB

Virtual CPUs

4

8

Microsoft cluster support

No

Yes

NICs/VM

4

10

USB support

No

Yes

Hot plug RAM/processors

No

Yes

 

In order to upgrade a virtual machine from version 4 hardware to version 7 hardware, you need to first install the latest VMware Tools.

Once the upgrade is complete, shut down the virtual machine.

Next, right-click the virtual machine you’d like to upgrade and choose Upgrade Virtual Hardware.

You will receive a warning indicating that the process you’re about to undertake is irreversible and will make it impossible to run the virtual machine on older VMware products, such as ESX 3.5. Click the Yes button to proceed.

Once the virtual hardware upgrade process is complete, start the virtual machine. Once you do so and you log in, Windows (assuming that’s your guest OS) will add the new drivers that are necessary to support the new hardware.

Once the driver installation is complete, click Restart Now.

 

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