This tutorial will show you the easiest way to transfer files between a local Windows 10 machine and a VMware ESXi 6.5 Host.

Introduction

One of the most common reasons for wanting to transfer files to an ESXi host is to upload the ISO images required for installing the virtual machines’ operating system. Although it’s possible to transfer files to a VMware ESXi 6.5 host using the web interface, it is far more reliable to use SSH and the steps in this tutorial will show you how.

UPDATE: I wrote this post because in version 6.5 the transfer process kept failing. If you’re using the latest version of vSphere 6.7 or greater, web console transfers seem to work OK now. I wrote about this in a post on creating a Ubuntu VM.

Prerequisites

Before you proceed, you must make sure SSH is enabled on your host. You can find out how to enable SSH in the post titled: How to Connect to an ESXi 6.5 Host using SSH on Windows.

Step 1: Download WinSCP for Windows 10

WinSCP is a free and open-source file transfer utility for Windows. It can be used to transfer files between a local and remote machine securely over SSH.

When downloading WinSCP we have two options. We can either use the portable version which means we don’t have to install it. This is a good option if you want to run WinSCP from a flash drive for use on multiple systems. It will also allow you to run WinSCP on a system when you don’t have admin rights to install programs.

Head over to the WinSCP download page of the official site and click on the Installation package or the Portable executables download link.WinSCP Download Page

Step 2: Install WinSCP on Windows 10

Assuming you downloaded the WinSCP-Setup.exe by clicking on the Installation package link, we are now ready to install WinSCP. If you downloaded the portable executable you can skip this step.

Double click on the downloaded WinSCP-Setup.exe file to launch the installer wizard.WinSCP Setup

If you have User Access Control enabled you will be asked to confirm if you want to make changes to the system. Click Yes to the dialogue that pops up.WinSCP User Access Control Message

Read the EULA and then click Accept >WinSCP Install Wizard EULA

Select Typical Installation (recommended) and then click Next.WinSCP Install Wizard -Typical Installation

Select the user interface style and then click Next.WinSCP Install Wizard - User Settings

Click Install to finish the installation.WinSCP Installation Wizard - Install

Uncheck the Launch WinSCP and Open Getting started page then click Finish.WinSCP Installation Wizard - Finish

WinSCP is now installed and can be launched via the shortcut on the desktop.

Step 3: Connect and Upload Files to an ESXi 6.5 Host

Now that WinSCP is installed we can connect to the ESXi host by doing the following steps:

  1. Open WinSCP by double clicking the WinSCP shortcut on the desktop.
  2. When the Login dialog pops up click on New Site.
  3. Enter the IP address in the hostname field.
  4. Enter the username and password and then click Login.

WinSCP Login to ESXi 6.5

If it is the first time connecting to the host you will be asked to confirm that you trust the host. Click Yes to confirm.WinSCP Login Add Host Key

You should now be connected to the ESXi 6.5 host.WinSCP Connected to ESXi 6.5 Host

As you can see from the image above on the left are the documents on the local machine and on the right are the documents of the host.

To upload a file or folder to the ESXi host you first need to decide what location the files will be uploaded to. This can be done by navigating to the destination folder on the right hand pane. Once you are in the destination folder you can upload the file by right clicking on the local file and then clicking Upload.

The image below shows an example of uploading an ISO image to a datastore on an ESXi 6.5 host.WinSCP Upload ISO to ESXi 6.5 Host

Downloading to the local computer works the same way as above but in reverse.

Conclusion

That’s it. You can now transfer files between your local machine and your VMware ESXi 6.5  hosts securely and reliably.

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