VMware vCenter Server is the centralized management software for virtualized environments. vCenter maintains logs that provide insights into operations, performance, and issues. Knowing where these logs reside is crucial for monitoring, troubleshooting, and analysis.
This article focuses on common vCenter Server 7 log locations across Windows and vCenter Server Appliance deployments. We’ll also explore key logs to review during troubleshooting.
What are vCenter Server logs?
vCenter Server utilizes logs to record events, tasks, warnings, and errors. Key components like services, agents, and processes maintain their own logging.
These logs provide administrators visibility into:
- User access events
- vCenter operations
- Performance data
- Errors and issues
Reviewing logs assists with:
- Auditing and compliance
- Troubleshooting problems
- Optimization and tuning
- Capacity planning
- Usage reporting
Common examples include API access logs, system logs, VM monitoring logs, etc. Identifying important logs ensures critical data is captured.
vCenter Server logging locations
vCenter Server is available as both a Windows machine and a virtual appliance. Below are the common log locations for each deployment.
On vCenter Server for Windows, default logs commonly reside in:
Some key logs:
- vpxd.log: vCenter Server vpxd service
- inventoryservice.log: vCenter services
- vsphere-client.log: vSphere Client activities
- ESXi host logs
- VM logs
DB logs may exist in a separate database directory. Other component directories may also contain relevant logging.
vCenter Server Appliance
The vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) utilizes log bundles and centralized logging. Common logs are found in:
Bundle logs provide broad data sets collected over time. Common bundle examples include:
- vm-support: Comprehensive support bundle
- vpxd: vCenter Server bundle
The VAMI interface allows log download through the browser. Use SSH access for direct system log access in /var/log/vmware/.
Key vCenter Server 7 logs
Certain logs provide more value during troubleshooting and review. Prioritizing these logs first allows faster issue identification.
The core vpxd service log records overall vCenter Server operations. Any major system issues are likely captured here first.
The inventoryservice log provides visibility into vCenter infrastructure objects. Inventory building, updates, and transactions are logged.
All connections, activities, and actions conducted within the vSphere Client are found here. Critical for auditing user access.
The VM monitoring log vmon details performance metrics and statistics collected on managed VMs. Extremely useful for troubleshooting resource contention.
The Linux syslog contains a broad range of system-level errors, warnings, and events. Check this log alongside core vCenter logs for a comprehensive view.
VCSA support bundles like vm-support combine component logging into a single compressed file. Use for complex issues spanning multiple areas.
Bundles simplify log collection for VMware Support. Useful when more holistic data is needed for review.
Configure vCenter Server logging
Adjusting log configuration changes verbosity levels, size limitations, and rotation policies. This ensures critical data is captured appropriately.
Consider increasing logging on specific components during troubleshooting. Be sure to reset these once the issue is solved.
See VMware documentation for detailed log configuration guidance on both platforms.
Access vCenter logs from ESXi hosts
vCenter Server manages ESXi hosts centrally. Each individual host maintains its own logs locally in /var/log/ that provide host-level visibility.
- hostd.log: Host daemon operations
- vpxa.log: Host management agents
Use SSH or console access to directly access these. Host logs complement vCenter logging for full infrastructure insights.
vCenter Server’s broad logging captures data on user activities, VM performance, system-level events, and more. Central defaults exist in C:\ProgramData\ for Windows, and /var/log/vmware for VCSA.
Key logs provide targeted visibility for troubleshooting and daily operations. Adjust logging levels and policies as needed to control verbosity. Access ESXi host logs when vCenter logging proves insufficient.
Combining entry points creates a clear end-to-end view of infrastructure health and usage. Bookmark common vCenter Server log directories for quick access when issues require fast diagnosis.
- vCenter Server maintains expansive logging for centralized infrastructure visibility
- Windows locations default to C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\logs
- VCSA stores important logs bundles in /var/log/vmware
- vpxd, inventoryservice, vsphere-client, and ESXi host logs provide targeted troubleshooting data
- Adjust logging configuration for temporary verbosity improvements during issues
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the main vCenter Server and Platform Services Controller logs?
A: The key logs are vpxd.log, inventoryservice.log, vsphere-client.log, and psc.log. They cover overall vCenter operations, inventory management, client access, and platform services roles.
Q: Where is the vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) log located?
A: On Windows this is C:\ProgramData\VMware\CIS\logs. For VCSA check /var/log/vmware/sso.
Q: What log shows database information for vCenter?
A: Check C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\logs\vpxd\VPXD.log on Windows or the vpxd.log bundle on VCSA. Filters on Db provide database-specific entries.
Q: What is the difference between logs and support bundles on VCSA?
A: Logs provide component or service-specific visibility. Bundles help collect broader troubleshooting data not available in single logs. Bundles simplify support engagements.
Q: Where do I find historical logs on vCenter Server?
A: Older rotated logs append a date stamp before the file extension, generally in the same directory. Search for vpxd.*.log as an example for previous vpxd logs.
Q: Can I customize the logs on vCenter Server Appliance?
A: Yes, modify log size, verbosity, and rotation policies through the VAMI interface or by directly editing log configuration files under /etc/vmware/.
Q: Does vCenter logging affect performance?
A: Excessive logging directly impacts performance. Adjust configuration to Recommended levels, then increase temporarily if needed for troubleshooting data collection.
Q: What third-party tooling integrates with vCenter logging?
A: Logging tools like vRealize Log Insight allow log analysis with dashboards and alerts. Other observability platforms provide additional value around metrics and traces.
Q: Where do I locate heap dump files on vCenter?
A: Generate heap dumps from the service console GUI on Windows. For VCSA check /var/log/heapdumps/. Also review core dump files in /var/core/.
Q: What VM logs can I access through vCenter?
A: vCenter collects basic VM statistics, events, and tasks. Host-level logging and guest OS logging provide much lower-level operating system visibility.
Q: How long are vCenter Server logs retained?
A: By default, 30 days but this depends on rotation policies. For long-term retention and analysis use remote syslog functionality to forward logs to a dedicated aggregation platform.
Q: Is there a way to access historical vCenter events beyond the GUI limits?
A: The eventdb database retains extensive historical event data not visible in the UI. Backup then query this database externally for greater visibility into past events.
Q: Where are migration assistant logs kept when using VMware’s migration tools?
A: The respective tool creates a unique log bundle in /var/log/migration-assistant/ on VCSA with verbose activities tracked during migration.