How to install Windows Home Server 2011 in an ESXi Virtual Machine

Posted by Paul Braren on Oct 5 2011 (updated on Jan 12 2012) in
  • HomeServer
  • Virtualization
  • Windows
  • whs2011inesxi

    These instructions assume you've already got the hardware to run ESXi.  And to keep things simpler, this ESXi host has only one NIC configured, and the VM has only one NIC configured.  For some additional background & tips on configuring the BIOS on recent Z68 motherboards, and step-by-step walk thru showing how to install ESXi itself (it's quite easy), see

    If you're interested in the installation of close-relative Windows Home Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and/or using deployments for initial backup strategy, see also

    Here's a high-level overview of what the video below covers, step by step.  Once y0u've downloaded the ISO, it takes well under an hour to create your own identical install.

    1) Download
    Where to get ISO from (MSDN or TechNet) and how to find the exact ISO file you need

    2) upload ISO to ESXi storage pool
    Veeam FastSCP is 15X faster than VMware Datastore Browser

    3) Create the virtual machine
    Boot with the ISO mounted, and making sure drive is at least 160GB

    4) Let it do a normal install
    At the end, set the clock, turn off Windows Time Updates via NTP

    5) Install VMware tools
    be sure to refuse reboot it offers, instead shutdown

    6) Change to better/faster network driver
    it's called "VMXNET 3", rationale explained here:

    7) Power up, rename NIC and hard-code the IP address
    leaving IPv4 and IPv6 as is, and be sure you're on "Home" network, and other hosts can ping this virtual machine

    8) Set VMware Tools to keep clock in sync with ESXi host

    9) Do a snapshot (backup)
    so you can get back to this moment in time if antivirus/network/client workstation problems make you wish you could get back to where you were

    That's basically the gist of it.  ALL the details are demonstrated, step-by-step, below (no sound):