Running a virtual machine in your computer allows you to use an operating system without installing it on your PC. For example, you can test drive the latest Windows 10 inside preview without any risk. If you want to run more than one operating system on your laptop or PC installing a virtual machine is very useful.
So, let’s start with what a virtual machine actually is,
A Virtual Machine is like having a second PC or laptop, but instead of a physical thing, it is a software. It allows you to run an operating system in an app window on your desktop, which itself behaves like a separate computer. You can use a virtual machine to run different operating systems or software which your primary operating system does not support. It runs run inside an application window, without affecting your host operating system. In a virtual machine, you can run any operating system as long as it is compatible with the virtualization software you are using. There are several Virtual machine programs available and you can choose them as per your personal or commercial requirement.
One important thing you should know before plunging into the Virtual machine world is that you need free hard drive space and some RAM to spare. One good thing is while creating a virtual machine, Virtual Box will itself suggest space and memory requirements based on the Operating System you are installing. The limit to how many VMs you can install in your computer depends upon the amount of hard drive space. You can even run multiple Virtual machines at the same time if you want. However, each of them eats up some CPU time, RAM, and other resources of your computer. Some of the virtual machine programs you can choose to run on your computer are:
- Virtual Box: (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X)
- VMware Player: (Windows, Linux)
- Parallels Desktop: (Mac OS X)
- VMware Fusion: (Mac OS X)
Hardware requirements specified by Microsoft:
- 64-bit Processor with Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)
- CPU support for Virtual Machine Monitor Mode Extension (VT-c on Intel CPUs)
BIOS settings requirement for running a virtual machine:
- Minimum of 4GB system memory Hardware Enforced Data Execution Prevention
- Virtualization Technology (or something similar, depending upon motherboard manufacturer)
Setting Up a Virtual Machine
First of all, choose the virtual machine app you want and install it. In this article, we are going to learn how to install Virtual Box as a virtual machine. However, most apps follow a similar procedure for creating a Virtual Machine. After you finish installing the app just follow these 5 steps and you are ready to go.
1. Open up your VM app and click the button to create a new virtual machine.
2. Depending on the Operating system you are going to install, the wizard will preselect some default settings for you. You can however change it later as per your requirement.
3. Now the system will ask how much memory you want to allocate to the Virtual machine. However, you can change this value later as per your requirement.
4. You’ll also be asked if you want to create a dynamically allocated or fixed size disk. The dynamically allocated disk will set a maximum disk size, but the file size grows as per the requirement. Alternatively, a fixed-size disk will also set size, but the file will be large from its creation.
However, we recommend selecting a fixed size since it performs better and makes the virtual machine more responsive.
5. Finally you will be returned back to the main Virtual machine window, and your newly installed virtual machine should show up. Now you can finally run the virtual machine by hitting start.