How to Shutdown a VMware Virtual Machine Using ESXCLI


You try to shutdown a virtual machine but it is not shutting down through the OS or through the vSphere client.  It is stuck and you have completely lost access to the virtual machine.

This applies to ESXi 5.x and above.

You should first determine why the machine isn’t shutting down.  There are a number of reasons for this such as backups, snapshots, 3rd party operations, etc.  Forcing a virtual machine to shutdown could result in corruption and a restore from backup may be required.

If you need to take action on the machine immediately, follow the process below.

  1. SSH into the host where the virtual machine is running.
  2. Run “esxcli vm process list” to get the WorldID of the machine you want to shutdown.  Note the WorldID as you will need it for the next step.
  3. Run “esxcli vm process kill –type=[soft,hard,force] –world-id=WorldNumber

As you can see there are a few options to shutdown.

  • Soft is the most graceful.
  • Hard performs and immediate shutdown.
  • Force will shutdown the server immediately.  Force should be used as a last resort.  


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