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We have an existing ESXi 5.1, that we want to backup with Veeam. Veeam works only with free version, which actually fine by us as the server underused.

Is there any way to remove the existing commercial license and switch back to free, without reinstalling?

I've seen this, but we use only vSphere client, and the "Remove" from inventory is actually grayed-out: How to release a VMware unused license from a host? New licensing scheme?

  • Veeam is a company. Which Veeam product are you using? I've never seen a Veeam product that only works with unlicensed ESXi hosts. – joeqwerty May 12 '14 at 15:06
  • Veeam Backup & Recovery specifically does NOT work with the free version of ESXi – Rex May 12 '14 at 16:54
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See: Downloading and licensing ESXi 5.x (2014574) @vmware.com, basically you fill out a registration form during ESXi download which result in an activation email, and if you follow through with the activation you will receive a license key for the free ESXi version. Once you have the free license key you add it and then switch your host over to it.

With regards to Veeam, it no longer works with the free ESXi at all, see: Veeam and Free ESXi – it’s official now @veeam.com (from 2009!) which states:

Recently, VMware requested that Veeam Software discontinue support for ESXi Free in Veeam Backup and Replication in order to comply with VMware’s updated licensing policy. In light of VMware's request, and our close technical partnership, Veeam Backup and Replication will no longer support ESXi Free. We will still continue to offer support for ESXi Free to existing Veeam customers who purchased Backup & Replication prior to version 3.1.

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