Windows vCenter Server 6.0 Upgrade

There is a new version of vSphere available, you can upgrade vCenter Server v5.5 or v6.0 to v6.5 by following Windows vCenter 6.5 Upgrade, alternatively consider Migrating Windows vCenter Server to VCSA 6.5.

VMware vCenter Server pools ESXi host resources to provide a rich feature set delivering high availability and fault tolerance to virtual machines. The vCenter Server is a centralised management application and can be deployed as a virtual appliance or Windows machine. This post gives a walkthrough on upgrading a Windows based vCenter from v5.5 to v6.0, the following guides are also available:

Software Considerations

  • The vCenter must be running version 5.x, all ESXi hosts connected must be running version 5.x. For other VMware products see the update sequence table.
  • You must check compatibility of any third party products and plugins that might be used for backups, anti-virus, monitoring, etc. as these may also need upgrading.
  • The operating system should be 64 bit and Windows Server 2008 SP2 or above.
  • The database should be Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 or above.
  • Note that SQL Express is no longer supported; this is replaced during the upgrade with an embedded PostgreSQL database, or you can migrate to a full version of SQL Server.
  • If you are unsure check the Product Interoperability Matrix.

Architectural Considerations

  • When implementing a new vSphere 6 environment you should plan your topology in accordance with the list of recommended topologies for VMware vsphere 6.
  • As we are upgrading an existing vSphere 5.x environment then we are pretty much limited to following the deployment model already in place:
    • If SSO was installed on a different machine from vCenter Server then the machines running SSO will become external Platform Services Controllers.
    • If SSO was installed on the same machine as vCenter Server then this becomes vCenter Server with embedded Platform Services Controller.
  • In this instance I will be upgrading a vCenter using the embedded deployment model.


Other Considerations

  • As we are upgrading an existing vCenter solution, I am working on the assumption that things such as FQDN resolution, database permissions and access to the licensing portal are all in place, as well as any required firewall rules configured and that you have access to the SSO administrator login details.
  • It may be necessary to temporarily stop any third party software which could interfere with the installer, such as anti-virus scanner (see post vCenter 6 Upgrade Internal Error).
  • Ensure you have a good backup of the vCenter Server and the database.
  • A full list of pre-requisites including the minimum hardware requirements can be studied at the vSphere 6 Documentation Centre.


Download the VMware vCenter Server and modules for Windows from VMware downloads.

Browse the folder and right click autorun.exe, select Run as administrator. The VMware vCenter Installer will open. Ensure vCenter Server for Windows is selected and click Install.


The vCenter Server 6 Installer will open in a separate window, click Next.


Accept the end user license agreement and click Next.


Enter the vCenter Single Sign-On password for the administrator@vsphere.local account. If you are using a service account to run the vCenter Server services then you will also need to enter this password too, and then click Next.

The installer will now run pre-upgrade checks.

If there are any permissions issues an error will be raised at this stage. I used a service account that was db owner but got the following error: the user associated with the DSN has insufficient privelages. Resolution: provide sufficient priviliges for the user by granting the user the following permissions: *VIEW SERVER STATE *VIEW ANY DEFINITION. This was resolved using the referenced KB:

Click Next at the configure ports page, if required take a note of the ports used to check you have the correct firewall rules are in place.


Check the destination directory and click Next, this will be the same as your previous installation by default.


If you have insufficient disk space for the selected installation model then you will receive an error at this stage, clear some space or extend the drive to continue. If not then review the Customer Experience Improvement Program page and click Next.


Check the details and tick the box to verify that the vCenter Server and database are backed up, and click Upgrade.


Monitor the progress of the installer, once complete click Finish.

Log into the vSphere client or web client and select the upgraded vCenter under Hosts and Clusters, verify the installed version is correct, you can also select Help > About.

If you are using the vSphere Windows client you will be prompted to upgrade your client to the latest version.


The new vCenter license key must be applied within 60 days:

Web client: Click Hosts and Clusters and select the upgraded vCenter. Click Actions and Assign License. Select a license or use the green plus button to add a new license and click Ok.

Windows client: On the Home screen under Administration click vCenter Server Settings. Under licensing select a license or enter a new key under Assign a new license key to this vCenter Server and click Ok.

If you do not yet have a new license key you will need to upgrade the key through the My VMware portal:

Browse to and login using the account which holds administrative access to your license estate. Click Manage License Keys and change the drop down menu to Upgrade License Keys. Browse to the existing license for vCenter Server 5 and select the tick box next to the license key you wish to upgrade, click Continue.


When you are satisfied the vCenter is working as it should be and backups have completed; remove the temporary data from C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\export.

Consider upgrading any other products you may use, such as Update Manager.

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