How to use VMware VisualEsxtop
Esxtop is a powerful tool and you should be using it, if you are not then start today. It just got easier to use this powerful tool with the release of VisualEsxtop as a VMware Fling from the labs team. This allows admins an easier to understand and work with method to using esxtop. The new Gui that was added allows for people of all technical levels to use the tool and gain insight into their environments.
Upon launching VisualEsxtop you will see some very familiar looking details from the CLI version of the tool. You will be greeted with the same summary at the top as seen with the original tool. The summary gives you a high level view based on the tab that you are looking at. Below I am showing an example showing CPU related details.
In the past many admins new to esxtop were confused or scared of this tool, due to lack of experience usually. We this new option makes the entry point a bit less painful. The example below shows disk related information on a per VM basis. This makes things very easy to use presented in this format. If you want to view memory or CPU details just click on the tab along the top. Its all very clear and by simply clicking the appropriate tab you can find the information you are seeking.
These details are not new features they are just being presented in a manor thats a bit easier to consume. This information has been available in the CLI version of esxtop for years.
Once you start VisualEsxtop you will need to connect either to a vSphere host or a vCenter Server. You are presented with a connection window shown below to enter the address and credentials to make the connection.
Hey what does KAVG mean?
This might be my favorite option available in the tool. If you need find out what the values in a given column mean or relate to all you have to do is hover over the column. A pop-up will show you the definition for the value in that column. This will save users that don’t use the tool on a regular basis a lot of time and aggravation. In the past you would either have to look through documentation or head out onto Google to find out the meaning of some of these values.
Some graphing love
Something that is new for this tool is the ability to look at a line graph of a single value. From the image below you can see that there are a large number of values available that you can select to display information.
Changing the time internal
The esxtop tool collects details on a time internal that is 5 seconds by default. So every 5 seconds the information is updated for the values you are looking at. Based on the problem that you are fighting you may want to increase or decrease this interval. The image below shows that by choosing the interval option from the Configuration menu is all that is required to adjust.
Its a Batch Thing
At times you may have a need to collect these metrics rather than just look at them in real time. This maybe be to send information to VMware on a support case you have open or some internal reason. To do this you would run esxtop in batch mode. This is very simple in VisualEsxtop as shown below. All you need to do is select Save a Batch File form the menu.
You will then be presented with a window to adjust the details of what you want to collect and save in your batch file. I am only entering the file name and the number of snapshots to collect in my sample below. The number of snapshots means that it will run a number of times based on the interval configured earlier. So my example shows 50 snapshots and I’m using a 5 second interval. This means that it will collect 50 data points over a 250 second period of time.
Last up is now that we have a batch file saved what can I do with it. You can choose to Load a Batch Output from the menu. This will load in the collection that you saved and replay it for you to examine. In the image below I am showing the testbatch file that I collected earlier being replayed.
With the new easier to use interface I hope a whole new group of VMware admins begin to use this valuable tool. If there is something else that you like about the tool or thing could be improved drop a note in the comments, I would like to hear your thoughts.
About Brian Suhr
Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design