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Windows Server VMware Tools overview

In this quick article we are going to review the steps to install Windows Server 2016 VMware tools. In particular this one refers to a manual setup on a single virtual machine. It is possible to execute the VMware tools setup on multiple virtual machines as well. By running an unattended setup using the command line or during the SysPrep for Windows Operating Systems. We’ll cover these steps with a separate article.

So the question would be: why install VMware Tools?

VMware Tools enhance the performances of the operating system also adding extra features that otherwise would not be available until their installation. For example the ability to drag and drop files between the Guest OS and the Host. to name one. And the Windows Server 2016 VMware tools in this respect make no difference.

The VMware tools for Guest OSes include lots of components categorized in Drivers and Toolbox components.

So in the list of Drivers we can find:

  • Audio
  • LSI
  • MemCtl
  • Mouse
  • SVGA
  • Sync
  • VMCI
  • Hgfs
  • VMXNet
  • VMXNet3
  • FileIntrospection
  • NetworkIntrospection
  • VSS

In the list of Toolbox features we find:

  • Unity
  • Perfmon

It is possible to dictate which drivers or component we want to install using either Manual or Unattended setup. In this case this article refers to a simple manual install for Windows Server 2016 VMware tools.


Install Windows Server 2016 VMware tools

From the Virtual Machine Actions menu and then under Guest OS we have the option to manually install the VMware tools. As soon as we select this option the vSphere Hypervisor in this case will automatically unmount any CD/DVD and mount the Windows.ISO file which include the VMware tools. From here we can start the wizard. the same wizard will automatically detect the version of the operating system.

domalab.com Windows Server 2016 VMware Tools wizard

In this step we can choose the type of installation to perform. The Typical option applies to the large majority of cases. Of course it is possible to use a complete or even a Custom one. Custom setup allows to choose which components the wizard will install. Very useful in situations where drivers might conflict with current components. Very unlikely to happen but there might be situations for example where 3rd parties require exclusive access to specific functions like VSS.

domalab.com Windows Server 2016 VMware Tools install

As soon as the selection is chosen now the wizard is ready to install the selected components.

domalab.com Windows Server 2016 VMware Tools manual install

The installation takes only a few minutes if not seconds. Let’s click Finish to complete the installation.

To make the new changes effective we need to reboot the virtual machine. Of course this operation can be deferred allowing to save all work before rebooting.

As a best practice all virtual machines should have VMware tools installed as aside from performances enhancements also greatly helps to interact with the operating system residing in the virtual machine Guest OS. A few examples include:

  • when running Backups and Restore operations is helping freezing access to the file system achieving crash and application consistent backups.
  • better Memory management including memory ballooning features
  • better access to the file system inside the virtual disks (in particular with SCSI disks)
  • enhanced network performances including the support of plenty of enterprise features including the ones for security

As a next step we are now ready to use this Windows Server 2016 virtual machine as a template to start building or upgrading our home lab. In the next article we’ll review the options about deploying custom Windows Server 2016 virtual machines.


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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