Virtual machines do not shut down gracefully
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Virtual machines do not shut down gracefully


Article ID: 341067


Updated On:


VMware VMware vSphere ESXi


This issue occurs when you configure your virtual machine and ESX or ESXi host to Allow virtual machines to start and stop automatically with the system and choose Guest Shutdown as your shutdown action.
In this configuration, the expected behavior is for the guest to shutdown gracefully when the host is shutdown or rebooted. Instead the virtual machine is powered off hard when a host shutdown or reboot is initiated.
This article provides a workaround to the issue.

  • ESX and ESXi virtual machine fails to shutdown gracefully
  • The virtual machine is configured to shutdown gracefully when the host is shutdown, but not to start up automatically with host
  • The virtual machine experiences a hard shutdown


VMware ESX 4.0.x
VMware ESXi 4.0.x Embedded
VMware ESX Server 3.5.x
VMware Server 2.0.x (Windows)
VMware vSphere ESXi 5.0
VMware Server 2.0.x (Linux)
VMware ESX 4.1.x
VMware ESXi 4.1.x Embedded
VMware ESXi 3.5.x Installable
VMware ESXi 3.5.x Embedded
VMware ESXi 4.0.x Installable
VMware ESXi 4.1.x Installable


To correct this issue on a per virtual machine basis:
  1. On the Virtual Machine Startup and Shutdown Properties window, select the new virtual machine and click Move Up so that it is listed under Any Order.
  2. Click OK to exit the Properties window.
  3. Click Properties again.
  4. Move the virtual machine back to Manual Startup.

Note: On future host shutdowns, a graceful shutdown of the virtual machine is attempted. This step needs to be performed for every virtual machine that requires a graceful shutdown with the host, but not to start up with the host. The automatic startup settings, and therefore this workaround, do not transfer between hosts, so this procedure may need to be performed again if the virtual machine is vMotioned.

Additional Information

Note: The Virtual Machine Startup and Shutdown (automatic startup) feature is disabled for all virtual machines residing on hosts that are in (or moved into) a VMware HA cluster. Automatic startup is not supported when used with VMware HA. As of vCenter Server 5.0 Update 1, the option to re-enable the setting is greyed out when the host is in a HA cluster. For further information see the Resolved Issues section in the VMware vCenter Server 5.0 Update 1 (for Windows) Release Notes.