The Difference Between An ESXi Patch, Express Patch, and Update

ESXi patches, express patches, and updates can be obtained from:

Understanding the difference between an ESXi patch, express patch, and update:

  • An update is a service pack with many fixes included.
  • An express patch is a small service pack with a few dozen updates.
  • A patch is a single update.

So, essentially, there is nothing significantly different between the three.

Review the following blog entry to understand the cumulative capabilities of the update files:

In short, every ESXi update/express patch/patch is cumulative as long as you apply it as such. To achieve this when patching from the command line, use the “esxcli software vib update -d <patch archive>” command, where <patch archive> is the path to the ESXi file that you downloaded from and then uploaded to your ESXi server’s datastore.

3 thoughts on “The Difference Between An ESXi Patch, Express Patch, and Update

  1. Hi, I’m kinda new to supporting ESXi, and this a great concise article – exactly what I was looking for!

    What I’m still confused about though, is if the patches are cumulative, why for example is the 5.5 3b update twice the size of the Express Patch 10 update which supercedes it?

    Cheers, Ben


    • Hi Ben,

      Thanks for the kind words and follow-up question. The author of the linked vmware blog article, Kyle Gleed, attempts to address a similar question in the article’s “thoughts” area. See items 2 and 3 here for his explanation:

      While I appreciate and respect Kyle’s additional info, I’m afraid there is still grey area created when a superseding patch is ultimately said to be “cumulative,” yet, perhaps, not inclusive of ALL VIBs in previously released builds.

      My approach is to use a clearly complied VMware ESXi Release and Build Number History like:

      On the page linked above, “All bold versions are downloadable releases.” These downloadable (I like to think of them as “stand-alone”) releases should contain ALL VIBs up to that point.

      If I were installing a fresh ESXi instance, I would start with the latest “bold” version listed and then upgrade to the latest available build after that “bold” version. Likewise, if I were upgrading an existing ESXi instance, I would upgrade to the latest “bold” version and follow up with the latest available build after that “bold” version.



      • Hi, there is a slight problem with the BOLD info, at least for 5.5. On the Virten site the basic Update 3 is highlighted in bold, yet if I go to the last downloadable version is VMware ESXi 5.5.0 Update 3b.
        I suppose I should tell them 😉


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