Manually Patch VMware vCenter Server VCSA with ISO

Patching is one of the things that we as administrators hate to do, but it is a necessary thing to keep up with the latest and greatest features and functionality, not to mention, security. The VMware vSphere environment is no exception to this best practice. Keeping your ESXi hosts patched is certainly a best practice as well as patching VMware vCenter Server. Recently I ran into an issue where the vCenter Server I was running in the lab would not correctly update using the online update mechanism from the VAMI interface. With that being the case, I decided to try to update the VCSA appliance using the appliance patch ISO. Let’s take a look at how to manually patch VMware vCenter Server VCSA with ISO and see how this process is accomplished.

Download the vCenter Server VCSA Appliance Patch ISO

This approach for me is being used due to a problem I was seeing with a VCSA appliance updating from the online repository. However, this method to manually update vCenter Server VCSA with ISO can also be used if you have a VCSA appliance that does not have Internet connectivity for security or other reasons.

First off, how do you get the ISO file for applying the VCSA appliance patch? You get this from the VMware Patch Download center. You can quickly Google this and find it, but the direct URL to the site is: https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch

You will need to login using your “My VMware” credentials.

Download the VCSA Appliance patch ISO for patching your VCSA appliance manually

As you can see above, the Release Name is listed as VC-6.7.0U2a-Appliance-Patch and is in ISO form. You can tell this is a patch by the size of the ISO file compared to the regular Appliance ISO file which is more than twice as large.

Manually Patch VMware vCenter Server VCSA with ISO

The process to manually patch VMware vCenter Server VCSA with ISO is fairly straightforward and involves just a few steps including:

  • Download the Appliance patch ISO (shown above)
  • Copy the ISO to a datastore or content library that you can mount to your VCSA appliance CD-ROM drive via the vSphere Client.
  • Once the ISO file is mounted, SSH into the VCSA appliance and run the necessary commands to manually patch VMware vCenter Server VCSA with ISO that was uploaded

After downloading the file from the VMware Patch Download Center, I have uploaded the ISO and mounted it to the VCSA appliance CD-ROM drive.

VCSA Appliance patch file ISO is mounted to the VCSA appliance CD-ROM drive

Now, I am ready to begin running the necessary commands to begin the manual patching process using the ISO. The first thing you need do is SSH into the VCSA appliance. After SSH’ing in, as you can see here, I was at a BASH prompt. To get to the prompt you need to be in if you see the “red pound” prompt is type:


Once you login, to get the patch staged, type the following command:

software-packages stage --iso --acceptEulas
Login to the VCSA appliance via SSH login and stage the patches via ISO

You can list out the staged VCSA appliance patch as well as the updateVersion in the staged ISO patch by running the following command:

software-packages list --staged
Listing the VCSA patches that are staged and the version of VCSA that will be applied

Now, you simply need to manually apply the staged updated. You can do that with this command:

software-packages install --staged

The installation of the VCSA appliance patch will proceed forward. You will see the status of the patch update in the form of progress of packages installed where you see the “red arrow” below.

Beginning the patch install process from the appliance patch ISO

After a few minutes, you should see the message, “Packages upgraded successfully, Reboot is required to complete the installation“.

You can reboot the appliance from the VAMI interface or command like using the shutdown reboot -r <reason> command.


After the VCSA appliance reboots, you can login to the VAMI interface and check the Current version details to make sure the version matches the version applied from the manual update from the ISO file.


Wrapping Up

It is great that VMware has provided numerous ways to update vCenter Server, including the ability to manually patch VMware vCenter Server VCSA with ISO. This can be extremely helpful in situations where you run into problems updating a VCSA appliance online, or if you have a VCSA appliance that is not connected to the Internet to pull updates online. Hopefully, this quick walk through on how to perform the manual update

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