Powering off an unresponsive virtual machine on an ESXi host
search cancel

Powering off an unresponsive virtual machine on an ESXi host


Article ID: 308457


Updated On:


VMware vSphere ESXi


This article provides steps for shutting down and when necessary, force on an unresponsive virtual machine.

  • You cannot power off virtual machine on an ESXi host
  • A virtual machine is unresponsive and cannot be forced off or stopped
  • You cannot access or unlock files on a virtual machine
  • After shutting down a virtual machine, vCenter Server shows the virtual machine as running
  • There is no indication that a virtual machine is shut down
  • You cannot edit properties in the virtual machine
  • You see one or more of these errors:
    • Soap error 999. The operation is not allowed in current state
    • The attempted operation cannot be performed in the current state (Powered Off)
    • The request refers to an object that no longer exists or has never existed


VMware vSphere ESXi 6.5
VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7
VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0.0


    If Powering off the virtual machine from vSphere Web Client or Host Client does not work , you must use the command line method.


    Determining the virtual machine's location

    Determine the host on which the virtual machine is running. This information is available in the virtual machine's Summary tab when viewed in vCenter web client.


    There are several methods to power off the non-responsive virtual machine using command line as the following:

    Warning: Follow the sections and steps in this article in order.

    Using the ESXi command-line


    1. Log in as root to the ESXi using SSH.
    2. Get a list of all registered virtual machines, identified by their VMID and Display Name by running this command:
      # vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms

    Example output:

    1. Take note of the impacted virtual machine ID VMID
    2. Get the current state of a virtual machine by running this command:
      # vim-cmd vmsvc/power.getstate VMID
    Example output:

    1. Check if there hanging task on the impacted virtual machine that prevent the machine from powering on by running this command:
      # vim-cmd vmsvc/get.tasklist VMID
    Example output:
    (ManagedObjectReference) [
    1. Run the vim-cmd vimsvc/task_info task_id command to see the task in more detail.
    For example using the data from step 5:
    $ vim-cmd vimsvc/task_info haTask-2-vim.VirtualMachine.createSnapshot-182550283
    vim.TaskInfo) {
    dynamicType = <unset>,
    key = "haTask-2-vim.VirtualMachine.createSnapshot-182550283",
    task = 'vim.Task:haTask-2-vim.VirtualMachine.createSnapshot-182550283',
    description = (vmodl.LocalizableMessage) null,
    name = "vim.VirtualMachine.createSnapshot",
    descriptionId = "VirtualMachine.createSnapshot",
    entity = 'vim.VirtualMachine:2',
    entityName = "VMware vCenter Server Appliance5-1",
    state = "running",
    cancelled = false,
    cancelable = false,
    error = (vmodl.MethodFault) null,
    result = <unset>,
    progress = 50,
    reason = (vim.TaskReasonUser) {
    dynamicType = <unset>,
    userName = "vpxuser",
    queueTime = "2014-11-09T17:49:01.171933Z",
    startTime = "2014-11-09T17:49:01.175521Z",
    completeTime = <unset>,
    eventChainId = 182550283,
    changeTag = <unset>,
    parentTaskKey = <unset>,
    rootTaskKey = <unset>,
    1. The task is hung and needs to be cancelled, use the command:
      # vim-cmd vimsvc/task_cancel task_id
    Note: Please note that not all tasks can be canceled. For instance, in the example above we see the snapshot task has the cancelable flag set to false (cancelable = false).
    1. Shutdown the virtual machine using the VMID found in Step 3 and run this command:
      # vim-cmd vmsvc/power.shutdown VMID
    Note: If the virtual machine fails to shut down, run this command:
    # vim-cmd vmsvc/power.off VMID
    Example output:


    Using the ESXi esxcli command

    1. Log in as root to the ESXi using SSH.
    2. Get a list of running virtual machines, identified by World ID and Display Name by running this command:
      # esxcli vm process list

    Example output:

    1. Take a note of the world ID of the non-responsive virtual machine. For example in step 3 the World ID is 2750434.
    2. Power off the virtual machine from the list by running one of these commands:
      # esxcli vm process kill -t=soft -w=WorldID
      # esxcli vm process kill -t=hard -w=WorldID
      # esxcli vm process kill -t=force -w=WorldID
    Note: These command provide different levels of force to stop the virtual machine:
    • Soft is the most graceful
    • Hard performs an immediate shutdown
    • Force should be used as a last resort
    1. If the VM fails to stop even after running the "esxcli vm process kill" command, evacuate all other VMs off the ESXi host and restart the ESXi itself.

    Additional Information