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How to Choose a Virtual Machine

By Hanna Welch | February 15, 2019 |

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Have you ever used virtual machines? If not, maybe it’s time to start because you can expand your horizons with different virtual machines available today. Let’s go through the best platforms.

Originally, we all have one operating system pre-installed when we get a new computer, but there are plenty of reasons why you might need another one, or even two. Today you don’t need another computer to have a different OS, a virtual machine allows you to run as many operating systems on one device as you want. Whether you are a software developer, a tester, or maybe a gamer who wants to run a certain game designed for another OS, in this article you will find our top virtual machine picks.

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The Best Virtual Machine: VirtualBox

VirtualBox is a powerful machine with a great number of built in features. The best thing about it is the fact that it is absolutely free. It doesn’t require a lot of hardware resources to run, a recent Intel or AMD processor is quite enough. One of the most convenient features in VirtualBox is the special software packages for easy folder and hard drive sharing between guest and host operating systems.

No matter on what OS you are running VirtualBox, it will work smoothly and even offer you 3D virtualization and multiscreen resolutions. Perhaps it’s not the quickest solution, but definitely the best among the free ones.

The Best Virtual Machine: VMware

VMware is one the most widely known virtual machines that started operating in 1998. It offers several virtualization solutions at a different cost: VMware Workstation Pro which will cost you about $250, VMware Fusion for $80, and VMware Workstation Player that is totally free.

The Workstation Pro package is designed for advanced users who want a powerful machine to simultaneously run many applications on multiple guest operating systems.  VMware’s Fusion is a simple solution for home users who want to run Windows on their Mac computers. VMware Workstation Player is a free option for personal use by those who want to run a virtual machine on their Windows and Linux host systems.

VMware is not that simple to use, however it offers quick installation and integration. The good thing is that the guest operating system runs almost as quickly and smoothly as the host one.

The Best Virtual Machine:  Parallels Desktop 14

Parallels Desktop is right for you if you are going to emulate Windows on a Mac computer. Version 14 is fully compatible with the latest Mac OS versions and will allow you to smoothly run Windows 7, 8 or 10 as a guest OS. It will also give you the option to easily move files between the systems, start applications from your Mac dock and quickly access cloud storage.

While offering a setup easy enough to handle by beginners, Parallels Desktop offers advanced 3D graphics and support for Retina displays. Besides Windows, it can emulate Linux and Solaris operating systems, but the best selection of features is available with Windows.

The Best Virtual Machine: QEMU

QEMU is an open-source highly customizable virtual machine for advanced Linux users.

QEMU is capable of emulating an array of software and hardware types in a process of dynamic binary translation. It executes the guest code directly on the host machine offering top performance and speed. It’s also an ideal solution for creating a minimum size virtual machine that works for a portable/flash drive. Since this is an open-source solution, it’s also one the most frequently updated virtual machines.

The Best Virtual Machine: BOOT CAMP

Actually Boot Camp isn’t a virtual machine, but it’s still worth mentioning here. Being pre-installed on all Macs, it’s used for dual boot between Windows and macOS. In fact, it doesn’t emulate an operating system, but helps to install it using part of the hard drive, then allows to quickly boot into the system you need. Since it runs directly from the hard drive, the performance is way better than on any virtual machine.

The only inconvenience is that there’s no option to run applications side by side, or to share files, and you have to wait for a reboot each time you want to switch between systems.

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