How to Update an Expired vCenter Server License

melissa • July 12, 2016 • No Comments

Sometimes we are in a hurry when installing a vSphere environment and forget little things like entering license keys.  Remember, vCenter 6 and other vSphere products include a 60 day evaluation period, which expires on day 61.  Hopefully we only forget to update our vSphere licenses in development and test environments, since it is in the have verification testing for plans for production environments, right?  It should be as easy as just grabbing the license key and plopping it in, but sometimes it is not.  I am going to show you one of the most common issues I’ve seen when updating and expired VMware vCenter server license and how to fix it.  This lesson also applies to updating or assigning ESXi host licenses.

(This article talks about updating an expired vCenter license in the C# client which has been deprecated.  If you’re looking for how to update an expired license using the vSphere Web Client, be sure to look here.  If you aren’t already using the vSphere Web Client, click here to learn more about it.)

I am sure you have seen this screen before, but look what happened when I tried to copy and paste my complete license key in!  It did not make it.
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.52.02 AM

Not sure how I got here?  Right click your vCenter in the left Navigator pane, and select Assign License…  In fact you can also do this on your ESXi hosts to assign their licenses.

Now, back to vCenter licensing.  I can only see the first five characters I pasted in, and I could not add the license to vCenter.  If you see this issue, don’t panic.  There is still a way to get that key into vCenter.  Why bother you ask?  Well, once the vCenter Server license has expired you won’t be able to do much.  While things will still “work” to some extent, you won’t be able to do much.  Say goodbye to adding hosts to your inventory.  If your ESXi host licenses are also expired, then you will really be in trouble.

For now, we are going to focus on updating the vCenter Server license.  To enter your vCenter Server license, you must type out each and every character.  Copy and pasting will not work.  After you see all of the characters represented, click Add License Keys.  Don’t just click Next!

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.52.41 AM

After you see a message that the key has been added successfully, go ahead and click Next.  You can then Assign your license to your vCenter and you are off to the races!  In the Product field, you will see a radio button next to the license you just entered.  The green checkbox next to the name of your vCenter tells you you are all set.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.55.06 AM

Remember, ESXi licenses and vCenter Server licenses are not the same thing.  Ensure you have the license key for vCenter Server Standard, not an ESXi license key.  They are different even though they both have a 60 day evaluation period.  Now, you can enjoy your fully operational vCenter, and follow the same process to enjoy fully licensed ESXi hosts.

Both vCenter and ESXi licenses are critical to the smooth operation of a vSphere environment.  I strongly suggest verifying licenses as part of the verification and testing process before your production environment is live.

If you are using the VMware vSphere web client, be sure to take a look at this article.  Remember, the C# client is going away.  If you want to learn more about the newest vSphere client for accessing hosts directly based on HTML5, be sure to look at my favorite feature of it.

Categories VMware