Script to Restart VMware Tools Remotely

Caution: Articles written for technical not grammatical accuracy, If poor grammar offends you proceed with caution ;-)

I was “forced” to learn how Powershell and the VI Toolkit works for an engagement a few months ago. Once you learn how powershell works and how the VI Toolkit integrates with Powershell, you will love it. This is coming from a linux guy who sees some of the VBScript stuff and just goes “HUH?!?” If you like VB SCripts, check out this post on Jase’s Place. Back in the day, I knew DOS scripting pretty well and I have learned rudimentary bash and perl scripting. To be frank, Powershell was easy for a knucklehead like me to pick up. I use it frequently to automate tasks in VI3 and the winders VMs it manages.

In my last post, I mentioned that VCB snapshots will cause VMware Tools to appear to go off line, even though they are still running. The fixes were to restart the management services on the host or login/logout of the guest. Restarting the management services on the host could cause issues if someone set up to automatically start VMs on boot. Logging in to the VMs is fine unless you have hundreds of VMs.

A third option is to restart the VMware Tools service. This is something that can easily be scripted as long as you have admin access to the guest via RPC services. There are a few methods to script the restart of services on a server remotely. The first is using the sc.exe utility. The syntax of the script looks like this:

sc.exe \guestname stop VMTools
sc.exe \guestname start VMTools

This can be easily scripted using the good-old DOS for command. Create a text file (C:scriptsserverlist.txt) with all of the servers that need to have the VMware Tools service restarted, one guest per line in the file so it looks like this:


Then run a command that looks like this:

For /F %%SERVER in C:scriptsserverlist.txt do
sc.exe \%SERVER stop VMTools
sleep 10
For /F %%SERVER in C:scriptsserverlist.txt do
sc.exe \%SERVER start VMTools

You can get the sleep utility in the Resource Kit Tools for Windows 2003. A 10 second pause seems to work pretty well to make sure the service actually stops.

Since I lost all of my DOS scripting chops, I only know how to automate this fully using the VI Toolkit and Powershell. The script below will use the VI Toolkit to automatically create a list of guests that report as not having VMware Tools running and pass that information to standard powershell commands to stop and start the services:

#Connect to the vCenter Server
Connect-ViServer <vCenter.FQDN>

#Get a list of guests where VMware Tools are not running
$servers = get-vm | where { $_.PowerState -eq “PoweredOn” } | Get-VMGuest | where { $_.State -ne “Running” } | select vmName, State

# Stop VMTools Service
foreach ($srv in $servers)

Write-Host “Stopping services on $srv”
# Get the VMTools Service
$Service = get-wmiobject -ComputerName $srv -query “select * from win32_service where name=’VMTools'”
if ($Service -ne $null)

#Stop the VMTools Service

Sleep 10
Write-Host “Starting services on $srv”

#Start the VMTools Service

Another thing I recently needed was a quick way to list the guests with snapshots as a quick method to make sure VCB exited properly. You can use this:

Get-VM | Get-Snapshot | Select VM, Name, Created, Description

Well, there you have it. Script your VMware Tools restart…

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