Remote access for ESXi local user account ‘root’ has been locked for XXXX seconds after XXXX failed login attempts.

Due to consistent wrong password by application OR user, root a/c of ESXi may get locked out. This prevent any further login externally to ESXi host.

This happens most likely due to backup/monitoring application that has root user a/c configured the operation.

To solve this issue.

  • Take Console access (iDRAC/ILO/KVM..etc depending on hardware).
  • Press F2 to customize the system. Log in as root.
  • Use the Up/Down arrows to navigate to Troubleshooting Options > Enable ESXi Shell.
  • Press ALT+F1, login as root. Run the following commands to show number of failed attempts:
pam_tally2 --user root
  • Run the following command to unlock the root account:
pam_tally2 --user root --reset


Now you should be able to login to ESXi using root a/. You can review hostd log to find out from where failed login coming.

less /var/log/hostd.log |grep -i 'password'

2019-07-31T17:08:51.735Z info hostd[2099345] [Originator@6876 sub=Default 2019-07-31T20:51:07.055Z warning hostd[2205446] [Originator@6876 sub=Default opID=esxui-fca4-b52f] Rejected password for user root from
2019-07-31T20:51:11.056Z verbose hostd[2205444] [Originator@6876 sub=Solo.Vmomi] Arg password:
2019-07-31T20:51:39.634Z warning hostd[2099346] [Originator@6876 sub=Default opID=esxui-c6d2-b54a] Rejected password for user root from


Based on IP address check if any application configured with incorrect root password.

Please note in ESXi 6.5/6.7, invalid login may cause host to be unresponsive. Review KB  for proactive steps.