VMware Tools Troubleshooting on Windows

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VMware Tools can be troublesome at times. Most of the time though, it runs in the background and nobody notices. That’s how it is supposed to be! I’ve seen where a few people have removed it altogether thinking that will resolve issues but that’s not how you fix things! In fact, you’ve probably drastically reduced the performance of the VM and the host it’s running on.

First let’s begin as to why you need VMware Tools running in your virtual machines. Simply put, it’s a suite of utilities that enhances the performance of the virtual machine’s guest operating system.

VMware Tools benefits:

  • Improved mouse performance (let’s face it, this is the main reason you installed it, to get thank clunky mouse in order!)
  • Increased graphics performance
  • Enhanced device drivers:
    • –VMXNET3 (If you’re having issues with E1000, try this adapter instead. It requires VM Tools to run.)
    • –SVGA display
    • –Sync driver for quiescing I/O
    • –Balloon driver for memory management

VMware Tools features:

  • Time synchronization with the ESXi host
  • Shared folders between host and guest file systems
  • Copying and pasting text, graphics, and files between the virtual machine and client
  • You also gain the ability to shut down the virtual machine the the options menu without the need to login

So as you can see, it’s not something you can skip. The benefits far outweigh the downside of not having VMware Tools running.

How to fix it.

For this blog, we’ll focus on troubleshooting the Windows version of Tools.

So when it acts up, what should you check in order to fix it? A common issue is that VMware Tools installation on a guest operating system displays error messages or stops responding before completion or that it hangs when installing or reinstalling. Some of the first things to do:

  • Verify that the guest operating system you are trying to install VMware Tools in is fully certified. It happens a lot, just double check the VMware Compatibility Guide to verify.
  • Verify that the correct guest operating system is selected. If you’re trying to install a Windows Operating system and the vmx configuration file still thinks the virtual machine is a Linux VM that you tried to make a couple days ago and you simply reused that VM, it’s not going to end well. VMware Tools is mounted as an iso. It will use the wrong iso file. This leads me to the next option to check.
  • Verify that the correct ISO image is being loaded. If you’ve checked that and it is correct it is possible that the iso could be corrupted.
  • Verify that the VMware Tools ISO image has not been corrupted. For more information, see KB 1004820.
  • If installing on a Windows operating system, ensure that you are not experiencing any issues with your Windows installation itself.
    • You will want to check a few registry keys. KB 1001354 is a great reference.
    • The general steps for all Windows Operating Systems is:
      1. Search the registry for vmware and delete all associated entries. (as long as you have no other VMware products installed like vCenter.)
      2. Close the registry editor.
      3. Open Windows Explorer.
      4. Delete the %ProgramFiles%\VMware\VMware Tools folder.
      5. Restart the virtual machine.
      6. Install the new version of VMware Tools.

Wrap up

Generally those steps above will resolve most issues with VMware Tools. If you’re not sure if your virtual machine has VMware Tools running you can get that information from the Summary tab of the VM, or I will leave you with a nice PowerCLI oneliner that you can run to list all the VMs and the status of VMware Tools.

Get-VM | Get-VMGuest | select VMName, ToolsVersion | FT -autosize

Hope this helps resolve any issues with VMware tools!

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