I happen to run in to vSphere environments without Enterprise plus, or need to implement vSphere environments where for example budget is a constrain, and one or more other limiting factors are there for having Enterprise Plus.

When we don’t have a vSphere edition supporting Host Profiles, Auto Deploy and Distributed switches, we need to have to create a way to (multiple) host back up and restoring for a disaster recovery or such. It can be easy with PowerCLI…


In this post I want to write about the PowerCLI cmdlet to back-up a host configuration. We can use the Get-VMHostFirmware cmdlet to back-up the local configuration to a tarbal and save this on a disk location. The Get-VMHostFirmware takes the following options:

Get-VMHostFirmware -VMHost <host> -BackupConfiguration -DestinationPath <directorywithouttrailing\>

This creates a tarbal (in other words tar archive zipped in .tgz) bundle with the the filename configBundle-hostname.tgz. In this tarbal there is a manifest text file with the release level of the host, UUID, kernel options and user options.  There is also a state.tgz tarbal with the host state of the moment the tarbal is created. In this state tarbal is the local tarbal (getting lost a bit here ;-)) with local dump of the configuration of the host. Here you will find the files for creating local settings, vSwitch configurations, Resource Pools, Authentication, NTP, SSH etc. etc. etc.

Configuration Tarbal


We need to build a script around this to occasionally take the dumps from hosts, for example with a schedule task. For the current customer I’m doing this for clusters. An side effect to doing the configuration dump, is checking the configuration is the same across all hosts in the cluster. If you happen to have a tarbal with a different size there is probably something different about this host. This can be with a reason or not. But something worth to check.

The following script takes input in variables for the vCenter, cluster, Hostroot, Hostpassword (note: plain text!), Destinationpath (without trailing \). It furthermore creates a log file name with the cluster and date. In this logfile we put the hostname, buildnumber to get the exact patchlevel and output of the Get-VMHostFirmware.

# This script dumps the config of hosts in cluster
# to be used with restoring via Set-VMHostFirmware (and Set-VMHost -State ‘maintenance’)
# To be runned with a user with access to the environment
# Must be runned against hosts with same build, when needed use -f force to override

# Log is created where name and build is written with time stamp

$vCenter = “<vcenter server>”
$Cluster = “<clustername>”
$HostRoot = “root”
$HostPassword = “<password>”
$DestinationPath = “<driveletter:\pathname>”

# connect to vCenter
Connect-VIServer $vCenter

# Create LogFileName
$LogFile = “$DestinationPath\Dump-$Cluster-$(Get-Date -Format ddMMyyyy).log”

# Open Logfile with timestamp
Get-Date | Out-File $LogFile

Foreach($Hostname in (Get-VMHost -Location $Cluster | Select-Object name, build)){
“Dump and build for $Hostname” | Out-File $LogFile -Append
Get-VMHostFirmware -VMHost $Hostname.name -BackupConfiguration -DestinationPath $DestinationPath | Out-File $LogFile -Append
“Dump created” | Out-File $LogFile -Append

Disconnect-VIServer -Confirm:$False


Restoring the configuration when something goes amiss? Take a host at the same build number, either the one where some configuration change went wrong or reinstall a host in case of a complete disaster.

For restoring we need two cmdlets, one to put the host in maintenance and one to restore.

Set-VMHost -VMHost <host> -State ‘Maintenance’

And to restore:

Set-VMHostFirmware -VMHost <host> -Restore -SourcePath <backupfile complete pathname.tgz> -HostUser <user> -HostPassword <password>

The Sourcepath must include the driveletter\directory-tree\dumpfilename.extension.

Like said when restoring configuration the build number of the host must match the build number of the host that created the backup file. If this not possible, use the -force option to override this requirement. Recommended is having the same build number.

– Enjoy!

Sources: vmware.com


One thought on “PowerCLI Collection: Back up the ESXi configuration (and restore it)

  1. Hi and thanks for the script.
    How can I modify it so it will backup configs also from hosts that are not part of any clusters?

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