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Which vSphere client should I use and when? (updated for 5.5)

Which vSphere client should I use and when?

With the release of vSphere 5.1 comes a new primary administration tool for managing your VMware vSphere 5.x environments, the vSphere Web Client. While the new web client has been given feature parity with that of previous vSphere Desktop Clients; the new features released with vSphere 5.1 and higher are only managed via the vSphere Web Client.
To help understand the functionality of each client, below lists the new features that are only available via the web client and several features that remain available only in the desktop client. If a feature is not listed then that functionality is available in both the vSphere Web Client and the vSphere Desktop Client.

vSphere Web Client Only vSphere Desktop Client Only
  • vCenter Single Sign-On
    • Authentication
    • Administration
  • Navigation with Inventory Lists
  • Inventory Tagging
  • Work In Progress (Pause)
  • Pre-emptive Searching
  • Save Searches
  • Enhanced read performance utilizing the Inventory Service
  • vSphere Replication (not SRM)
  • Virtual Infrastructure Navigator
  • Enhanced vMotion (no shared storage)
  • Integration with vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) Workflows (Extended Menus)
  • Virtual Distributed Switch (vDS)
    • Health Check
    • Export/Restore Configuration
    • Diagram filtering
  • Log Browser Plugin
  • vSphere Data Protection (VDP)
  • VXLAN Networking
  • Ability to change Guest OS on an existing virtual machine
  • Inflate thin disk option found in the Datastore Browser
  • VMware Update Manager Plugin
  • vCenter Server Maps
  • Create and edit custom attributes
  • Connect direct to a vSphere host


Additional Information

 Download the vSphere Client Comparison


16 thoughts on “Which vSphere client should I use and when? (updated for 5.5)

    1. Justin King

      you have the option to convert custom attributes into tags which offer better flexibility. Custom Attributes are stil available, just in the desktop client only.

  1. Mike Ellis

    I would also say that you can only use the desktop client to manage hosts without vCenter For example if you need to shutdown vCenter to take a snapshot, or to power on vCenter server, etc.

  2. Jim Nickel


    I both like and dislike the new Web Client. It has some nice features, but I miss some of the layouts that the vSphere Client had.

    However, I do not agree that it has feature parity with the desktop client.

    For example, I could not find a way to set the Logical Unit Pathing (Fixed, MRU or Round Robin) on a iSCSI target.

    Nor could I find a way to have a single vSwitch with 2 NICs but then override the NIC order for a VKernel port in order to be compliant with the network requirements for iSCSI binding.

    These are only two items, and I have only used the Web Client for a few hours….how much more stuff is missing?


  3. Luca Olivetti

    It’s just me or the web client is unusable under Linux?
    All the numeric fields are marked as invalid, with the error “One of the formatting parameters is invalid.”
    It has something to do with the locale settings, but I tried LANG=C and the result is always the same.
    I tried both firefox and chrome (with built-in flash).

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  6. Max E.

    You can upload files via either client, but trying to upload say a large ISO via web client takes forever! compared to the desktop client.

    Not to crazy with all this jumping back and forth between the two with 5.1 and if they will be getting rid of the desktop client they need to make some serious improvements to the web client in these type of areas.

    Also via web client I saw an alert which I wanted to copy the txt and paste into a web search and it wouldnt let me copy off the web client page/screen that a huge failure. Anything should be allowed to be highlighted and copied…


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