I know that vSphere 6.5 is out for some time now, but I did not got to upgrading my own homelab up until last week. So last week I started the upgrade and I ran into two situations in wich I had to do a little bit of troubleshooting. On top of that I realized that this site did not have a how to upgrade vCenter server appliance (VCSA) just yet, so why not add one now ;)

Quick note: My vCenter installation allready was in the appliance format, therefor this article will only describe upgrading the appliance variant.


While you download the latest vCenter server appliance ISO from the VMware site you should check the following:

  • As with all upgrades you should first make sure that you have a proper backup of your vCenter server appliance
  • Further more make sure that integrated applications and / or services are compatible with version 6.5 (check the VMware Product Interoperability Matrices)
  • Make sure you have a system that you can use the ISO on. In my case I used a virtual machine with Windows installed so I could use the GUI upgrade
  • Have a free IP address available in the same subnet as the current vCenter server appliance

Stage 1

The upgrade is devided into two stages. The first is to build the new VCSA besides the current appliance. This new VCSA will run on a temporary IP addresss until the entire upgrade is done. And in case something goes wrong during this part no harm is done. Just cancel the upgrade and delete the newly created appliance and start over again.

To start the GUI installation go to the mounted ISO and start the installer.exe in the <DriveLetter>:\vcsa-ui-installer\win32\ directory and follow these steps:

  • Choose for Upgrade 
  • Accept the EULA
  • Now in this next step I first got a error and later found out I made a mistake:
    • Once you entered all the information and click next the installer will try to reach the vCenter. For me this resulted in the error “A problem occured while getting data from the scource vCenter Server”. And the log showed me “error: sourcePrecheck: error in getting source Info: ServerFaultCode: A general system error occurred: vix error codes = (1, 4294967294)”. After some searching I found that this means the VCSA root password needs resetting. Looking at the VSCA admin page it indeed stated that my password was expired. After resetting the error was gone in the installer.
    • As you can see in the screenshot I entered all the details, but during stage two of the upgrade I got an error on the bottom part. VCSA upgrade source applianceThe error stated that the entity on which my vCenter appliance was running is the appliance itself. VCSA upgrade vCenter mangementThinking this through it makes sence as it kind of creates a chicken and egg situation. Now I kind of hoped that I could still adjust this at that stage, but you cant. So I deleted the new appliance and started over again but now I entered the vSphere host on which the VCSA is running. Make sure DRS is not set to “Fully Automated”, would be a shame if the appliance whould move from the entered vSphere host during the installation.
  • If you are using a self-signed certificate then you will be asked if it is trusted, click Yes to continue
  • The next few steps will have you enter the target location of the new appliance including vCenter / Vsphere host,  VM folder and compute resource
  • Then you will need to give the new VCSA a virtual machine name and enter a root password
  • You will need to select the depployment size for the new appliance. And I think VMware did a great job by adding a sizing table to help accommodate the choiseVCSA upgrade deployment size
  • Select the datastore on which to deploy the VCSA
  • And finally enter the network settings. This is where you enter the temporary IP address.

The installer will now start and create a new virtual machine. Once this deployment is done you can either use the installer to continue with stage 2. Or you can use a browser and navigate to https://<temporary ip address>:5480/ .

Stage 2

I am note sure anymore why, but I ended up running stage two from the browser. When you open the site it will state that vCenter server 6.5 has been installed succesfully, but still needs additional steps.

  • Select the upgrade option in the menu
  • You are asked to enter the srouce VCSA and managemend entity again. This time I entered the vSphere host the first time ;) VCSA upgrade srouce webinterface
  • Then you get to choose what kind of data you want to migrate. You will always have the configuration offcourse, but you also have the option to save historical data.VCSA upgrade Historical data
  • And then at the final step you need to confirm that you made a backup of the source VCSA. If you don’t confirm that you have the upgrade proces won’t continue.

As a final warning you will be notified that the source VSCA will be shutdown after the network configuration has been done. By clicking OK the upgrade will kickoff with the data migration. Once finished you can reach your new VCSA on this same ip address that once belonged to the old VCSA.

The old VCSA will still be in the vCenter inventory but with it’s power turned off. Maybe to state the obvious but it is not reccomended to start this appliance again. If you do decide to do so again make sure it is not connected to the network.