Creating an ESXi install USB Stick

Installing ESXi (or any os for that matter) off of a CD/DVD is becoming harder and harder yet they still insist on distributing ISO files. Once upon a time we had these drives internally but these days chances are neither your workstation or server are going to have an optical drive meaning you’ll have to dig up a USB optical drive from the bottom of a box buried under multiple other boxes… Or something like that.

USB sticks have replaced optical media for installing operating systems so here I’ll show you how to create an install USB for VMware ESXi. You’ll need:

  • A Windows computer (Or USB passthrough to a Windows VM)
  • ESXi ISO file
  • USB Flash Drive 4GB+
  • Rufus (Portable edition is convenient)


Creating a bootable USB ESXi installer

      1. Open Rufus
      2. Make sure the correct USB stick is selected
      3. Select the ESXi ISO file
      4. Press Start
      5. Select Yes when presented with this message
      6. Rufus will give you a final warning about to make sure you have selected the right device
      7. Wait until it’s written the ISO to the USB Stick
      8. Close Rufus and Remove the USB Stick
      9. You can now put the stick in the Server and boot up the ESXi installer

You can install ESXi on the same USB you’ve booted the installer from as it fully loads the installer in to RAM. This is a really convenient feature as you don’t need to use 2 USB sticks.

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