VMware ESXi: How to reset ESXi evaluation license

This guide will give you the steps needed to reset the license file so that you can apply the evaluation license back to your ESXi host.

WARNING: This is for education/informational testing/development purposes only, and should not be used on a production server.

To reset your expired ESX 4.x, ESXi 4.x, ESXi 5.x, ESXi 6.x, ESXi 7.x or ESXi 8.x evaluation license:

  1. Login to the HOST via SSH or Shell
  2. Remove /etc/vmware/license.cfg
  3. Copy /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg to /etc/vmware/license.cfg
  4. Restart the vpxa service

Or simply copy the code below and paste it into your SSH session.

rm -fr /etc/vmware/license.cfg
cp /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg /etc/vmware/license.cfg
/etc/init.d/vpxa restart

I tested this on ESXi version 8 and it appears that the steps below are not necessary, but I’m leaving them here for reference.

Then open the “Licensed Features” option in the configuration tab of the ESXi host through the vSphere Client.

Click on “Edit” in the top right of the “Licensed Features” page

Once the “Assign License” window opens you will see two options. There will be a category for “Evaluation Mode” and Assigned License. Click on the “(No License Key)” option and then click “OK”. This will set the host back to “evaluation” mode and will give you access to all features for 60-days!

Revision history:

2023/07/10 – added information about ESXi version 8.x and updated the code to stop the prompt confirming the removal of the license.cfg file.

30 thoughts on “VMware ESXi: How to reset ESXi evaluation license”

  1. Hi Aaron,

    Thank you very much for your instruction, it helped me avoid many hours of heavy re-installation work of my test ESXi host.

    Best regards,
    Evgeny (Moscow)

  2. Hi Aaron,

    Came across this through a Google search today, was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

    Have a great day,

      1. Aaron,

        Looks like the key_EvaluationExpiryDate value in the /etc/vmware-vpx/vpxd.cfg might potentially be the value to reset Vcenter times in 5.5. I imagine 6.x is likely the same. It’s a long hash value that I have no idea how to convert to a date time stamp, but perhaps if it is figured out it could be reset. Sorry for resurrecting an old thread.

  3. Pingback: VMware ESXi: How to reset ESXi evaluation license – Aaron Redding – Bienvenue sur la KBelliot ;)

  4. Hi, you also need to restart the hostd service, otherwise VM’s may fail to power on.

    /etc/init.d/hostd restart

  5. Pingback: Reset ESXi evaluation license – VMDK 自修室

  6. I’ve tried this before and I had to reboot the server that my ESXi lives on about 6x’s. Has anyone else had the same experience?

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  9. MIchael Doherty

    Hi there, tried this and it worked great, but the problem now is we can’t do a SSH connection to the server? any idea?

  10. Mohamed Aboelazm

    it works with me only if i remove the host from inventory after the operation then add it again

  11. I do the same and able to extend the evaluation period but after one day I am unable to log in to the ESXi web server as user name password authentication error. using the same password. need your help.

    1. commands i used:
      rm -r /etc/vmware/license.cfg
      cp /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg /etc/vmware/license.cfg
      /etc/init.d/vpxa restart

  12. Tnice Mtenhery

    This works like a charm. It worked for me guys. For how long can one keep on extending the license key like this before it reject this evaluation license?

    1. I am not sure how many times a reset of the evaluation license can be done. I have only needed to reset my license one time.

    1. I have yet to find a way, because of the heavy use of databases and many systems that make up vCenter it would take a bunch of time to reverse engineer their system.

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