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Proxmox vs. ESXi: Side-By-Side Comparison

Choosing the right hypervisor platform is a big decision. In this article, we’ll take a look at all the options and determine which is best for your business. A hypervisor is a software that creates a virtualization layer to separate RAM, CPU, and other physical resources so that they can be used in virtual machines. In brief, it allows one or more virtual machines to run independently of the underlying hardware.

Hypervisors are a useful tool for virtualizing the software layer, which can help increase efficiency and reduce costs. You can find several hypervisors on the market, but two production-ready hypervisors are Proxmox and VMware ESXi.

Hypervisors are an important part of managing a server and could provide an advantage for specialized needs, such as virtual Linux servers. This article will highlight the differences in pricing, performance, and functionality between Proxmox vs. ESXi.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Side-By-Side Comparison

What is Proxmox?

Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE) is a type-1 hypervisor that runs directly on the host machine’s hardware and then runs other virtual machines on top of it. Proxmox is a Debian-based Linux distribution and is completely free. It allows users to experience enterprise-class virtualization on various platforms and is extremely compatible with various types of hardware.

NextCloud enables users to access all of their important files from anywhere with an intuitive interface. It offers an easily scalable, mobile-ready file storage solution, providing one of the most flexible cloud offerings available. While the free version of Proxmox does not offer the same level of updates or reliability, I haven’t encountered any problems with its performance.

What is Proxmox

What is VMware ESXi?

ESX is a strong hypervisor, which means that it has the power to run directly on system hardware without requiring an operating system. It is freely available for download, so we’ve included it in the vSphere virtualization suite here and also in the vSphere management portal.

Using ESXi? You’re on the right track! ESXi is a VMkernal-based hypervisor that boasts excellent results in virtualizing servers. Even better, it uses less space than other hypervisors and has a very large market share in enterprise environments (extremely high).

If you’re interested in the hypervisor industry but don’t have enterprise experience, that’s not a problem. ESXi is an easy-to-use, economical option that can be used by both administrators and advanced users alike. We’ll discuss the limitations below.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Features

Features of Proxmox

Proxmox is a cutting-edge tool for virtualization and management. It has amazing hardware compatibility, so it’s easy to install and run on any old computer.

IT Infrastructure Protection

Proxmox VE features a built-in firewall that protects your virtual machines and containers. The Proxmox firewall is also highly customizable, allowing complex configuration through the CLI or web GUI.

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Scheduled Backups

Proxmox allows users to schedule automatic backups. The software will save copies of files on the server in order to keep them safe and secure, or even run automatically on certain days and times for specific needs.

Collaboration with Ceph

Proxmox VE can integrate with Ceph, which allows cluster nodes to directly manage Ceph storage.

Several Storage Options

The Storage Model of the Proxmox virtual environment is extremely flexible. You have various options for how you can manage your virtual machine storage (ZFS, Ext4, LVM, and more).

Live Migration Capabilities

Proxmox’s live migration feature is incredible. It allows users to move virtual machines on their virtual clusters with no downtime at all.

Proxmox VE API

Proxmox makes it easy to experiment and try out new things with its analytics APIs. You can use them for automation, or even write scripts to help automate your work.

Multiple Authentication Sources

Proxmox VE integrates multiple solutions to provide a strong foundation for an enterprise-level infrastructure. Using OpenID Connect, LAPD, Microsoft Active Directory, Linux PAM, and Proxmox VE’s integrated authentication server together provides you with everything you need to manage users and groups in the enterprise environment.

Granular Access

It’s important to know who has access to what, which is why you should use a role-based system. Proxmox gives you control over exactly what each of your users can do in your organization.

Multi-Master Design

Proxmox VE has an advanced multi-master design that enables multiple nodes of the cluster to carry out maintenance tasks simultaneously for better flexibility and higher availability of production infrastructure.

Central Management System

Your virtual data center is easy to manage with Proxmox. With its web-based and central-based management, Proxmox helps to manage all tasks of your virtual data center.

VM Image Storage

Proxmox lets you set up virtualized filesystems, depending on what your storage requirements are. You can work with ZFS filesystems, LVM containers or shared storage such as iSCSI or NFS. This is incredibly useful for storing images locally or accessing your files remotely.

Features of VMware ESXi

VMware ESXi is the powerful and reliable, enterprise-class hypervisor for the Proxmox open-source server that supports all of its features.

Quick Installation

ESXi manages virtual machines on a computer system. It is designed to enable quick installation and requires no CDROM or hard disk drive.

Small Size

An advantage of VMware ESXi is that it has fewer security vulnerabilities compared to other operating systems. This is a tremendous benefit, though one that many users fall prey to.

User-Friendly Administration Tools

VMware features a browser that is optimized for administrators with the look and feel of HTML5 at all times. It also allows organizations to take advantage of administrative tools through the vSphere command-line interface (CLI) and application programming interface (APIs).

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Secure Design

The administrative web portal helps users protect their data from prying eyes and other vulnerabilities. With VMware ESXi, in the first place, we help maintain a safe virtual environment by using VMWare’s extensive logging and auditing capabilities.

Scalable Reliability

With just one small box, ESXi allows users to run as many as 128 virtual CPUs and 120 devices on 6 TB of memory. The high-performance cluster file of ESXi allows more storage resources to be distributed efficiently We recommend that this feature is mostly for enterprise users.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Performance

Proxmox and VMware ESXi offer both type-1 hypervisors. If you’re looking for competition or performance capabilities, the VM has been tested in various configurations.

Proxmox offers an enterprise-level utility for backing up and restoring virtual environments, hosts, and containers better than ESXi. Regarding backup and restore solutions, the supported functionalities of Proxmox include Zstandard compression, authenticated encryption, deduplication, and incremental backups.

With ESXi, you get performance tiers depending on the RAM amount per host, licensing, and the number of hosts in a cluster. However, with Proxmox VE, you get the same free performance tiers for all users. There is a “Paid Enterprise” repository designed for reliable updates, patches, and support.

If you’re running a VMware ESXi server, the free version doesn’t include any data-protection tools, including backups. For this reason, VMware ESXi isn’t recommended for enterprises because they won’t be able to back up their data.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Clustering

Clustering of Proxmox

Proxmox VE offers the installation of clusters and supports centralized management of multiple Proxmox servers from a single web management console. This feature is really handy when you need to manage a large server farm. The cluster of Proxmox offers:

  • Multiple authentication methods
  • Centralized web management
  • Ease of migration for VMs and containers

Proxmox allows users to create clusters of up to 32 physical nodes and configure them from a single management console.

Clustering of ESXi

vCenter is the hub that connects your ESXi clusters together. It grants you some of the most powerful features in vSphere like distributed resource scheduler, high availability, vMotion, and fault tolerance.

The ESXi cluster is available in both Standard and Advanced editions, so you can choose whichever level of functionality you are looking for. The Standard edition supports up to 512 virtual machines and supports features such as HA and vMotion; the Advanced Edition supports a capacity of 1024 data stores.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Ease of Use


Proxmox has an integrated web-based management interface that is designed to be easy-to-use and powerful. Ubuntu-based distros are commonly used for web hosting. But, if you know how to use a command line, learning the MetaMachine software will be a breeze.

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VMware ESXi

VMware ESXi uses an easy-to-use web client with advanced features, which means you can create a VM quickly and efficiently.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Security

Security of Proxmox

It’s important to choose a hypervisor that can provide extensive backup and integrity features. Proxmox can handle this task. It has the capability to maintain separate virtual machines, without any issues affecting its sister domains.

As a hypervisor, which is an open-source program used to manage virtual computer shell environments, developers can identify security gaps and bugs easily. Not all businesses agree with the open-source model, though.

Security or VMware ESXi

The ESXi solution is a highly secure virtualization platform. It not only secures its own security but trust by securing the boot with a trusted platform module. It also manages itself automatically and has a fixed lockdown mode that keeps it to be secure right out of the box.

Proxmox vs. ESXi – Pricing

Pricing Plan of Proxmox

The free version of Proxmox supports several features, but you must have a paid subscription to access technical support and enterprise repositories.

License LevelCost and Available Features
CommunityStarts from ~$100 (€95) per year & CPU socket  
BasicStarts from ~$300 (€295) per year & CPU socket. Three support tickets per year.
StandardStarts from ~$468 (€445) per year & CPU socket. Ten support tickets yearly.
PremiumStarts from ~$935 (€890) per year & CPU socket. Unlimited support tickets.

Pricing Plans of ESXi

The paid subscription to ESXi is essential for many because the free version has many limitations. However, it doesn’t hurt to try the free version, especially if you won’t be impacted by the limitations!

The following table shows the pricing plans of ESXi.

License LevelCost and Available Features
EssentialsStarts from $576.96 per year. Base server virtualization and management. Supports three hosts with up to two CPUs each.
StandardStarts from $1,268 per year. Supports basic server consolidation, vMotion, High availability, vShield Endpoint, and vSphere Replication.
Enterprise PlusStarts from $4,350 per year. Supports a range of features, including VM Encryption, vSphere Trust Authority, and data-at-rest encryption for VM data and disks.
Essential PlusStarts from $5,596 per year. Supports three hosts with two CPUs each. Supports all advanced features.

Conclusion: Proxmox vs. ESXi – Which to Choose?

If you’re not looking to get a lot of technical details on hypervisors but would like to know more about how they function, Proxmox offers free plans that offer a lot of flexibility due to their lack of limitations. You can set up VMs and Containers without any limitations or restrictions, everything is chosen from the wide variety available on this platform.

ESXi can handle a lot of your needs, but it’s also worthwhile to consider paid alternatives. It is important to know that the free version has limitations, and may not contain features that you need/want.

On the business end, ESXi has a lot going for it. The recent analysis showed that over 50% of businesses use ESXi versus only 1% that use Proxmox. This is a big deal if you’re trying to find out about hypervisors for work purposes, as one is clearly ahead of the other and those skills have real-life applications. However, since Proxmox is a lesser-known platform, it’s not good enough to offer value on a broad scale.

Please leave your questions in the comments below! We’d love to hear what you’re thinking, and we’ll answer them as quickly as possible.

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