What Is a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine is a program which creates a virtual computer system along with its virtual hardware devices.
This means that a separate operating system is running in a window on the desktop of your computer.
You can install and run it by booting the installer disc inside the virtual machines.
This is how you actually ‘trick’ it into thinking that it is running on a separate computer machine.
When you want to use your new operating system, you just need to open the virtual machine program and run it in a window on your desktop.
Since everything we’ve discussed so far is virtual, of course, that your new operating system is stored on a virtual hard drive.
The file is going to be gigantic; you will need some multi-gigabyte space on the hard disc.
The good thing is that you will not have to do anything with partitioning since this file is presented as a real hard drive to the operating system.
Why Are Virtual Machines Useful?
There are many advantages to using virtual machines on your computers, and below are presented some of them:
- First and foremost, they allow you to experiment with the other operating system without having to leave or remove your current one.
- They enable you to test the newest versions of operating systems, such as Windows or Mac.
- You are given the possibility to run software belonging to another operating system. For example, if you are using Linux as your primary operating system, you will be able to install Windows in a virtual machine and run some Windows programs inside the virtual machine, or vice versa.
- These programs are very efficient and easy to work with. You can look at it as if you are opening a new application. There is no time consuming while formatting hard disks and various switching.
- Virtual machines are “sandboxed.” To put it simply, they are put away from the rest of your computer. The software is placed inside the virtual machine and cannot escape it nor can it interfere or damage it. It is also great if there are some programs that you don’t trust. So, just place them inside your virtual machine and see what they can do. This so-called ‘sandboxing’ can also allow you to run the insecure operating systems in a safer way.
- The last but not the least, virtual machines are great protectors for safe deep web browsing. We all know that it is almost impossible to stay completely secure and undercover on the Internet, but these little things are very helpful, though. Even if someone manages to get through your VPN, they won’t be able to find out anything about the machine you are using.
What Are The Best Virtual Machines?
Although there is a great number of virtual machines, as always, there is also a small number of those which are considered as the best ones.
By researching and reading through readers’ comments and reviews, the conclusion has been drawn that the following ones are the most respectable ones.
VirtualBox is probably the most popular virtual machine. Now, this comes for a number of reasons; the most important ones being that it is completely free and available for Windows, Mac and, Linux operating systems.
Despite the fact that it doesn’t belong to the fastest virtual machines, it compensates this drawback by working perfectly and flawlessly on Windows and Linux operating systems.
It has got some amazing features that make it powerful than it may seem at first glance.
VirtualBox requires a newer Intel or AMD processor and is available on all major platforms.
To make navigation easier, it features plain text HML files.
No matter what platform it is installed on, it works perfectly. You can download and install it as a regular application, and it would be the best if you could use your VirtualBox on a Linux system, for the sake of security.
It offers many features to the users.
Among others, you can use laudable hardware support, multi-screen resolutions and 3D visualization.
It also comes with special software packages which are designed to provide additional help for those with sharing folders and drives among guest and host operating systems.
In combination with Tor Browser, there are chances for you to become almost invisible on the Deep Web.
If you are a first-time user and not sure how to install or use it, there a plenty of instruction manuals you can refer to.
VMware has its own line of virtual machine programs; VMware Player, VMware Fusion and, VMware Workstation.
Of all these, only VMware Player is available for free.
If you want Workstation, you will have to pay $250 for it, while VMware Fusion can be purchased for $80.
All of these work on any operating system, Windows, Linux or Mac.
VMware Player is downloadable for free, as has already been said.
It has many features that can be found in VirtualBox, but if you want more advanced ones, you will have to pay to get them through the VMware Workstation.
It is designed for the professional users who want to have a machine that can run various applications on multiple guest operating systems at the same time.
Finally, there is VMware Fusion.
This is an application for users who wish to run a Windows system on their Mac. However, its applications and options are not that easy to use.
But, you can install it really fast and see that it ingrates between operating systems quite logically.
Most of the users agree that VMware virtual machines are most stable and the most reliable ones.
3. Parallels Desktop
This virtual machine is available for Mac users only. Unlike VirtualBox, which is available for free, you will have to pay $80 to get Parallels Desktop.
Parallels Desktop is intended for the average Mac users who want to have Windows operating system on their computers.
It can also emulate the Linux and Solaris operating systems, but the tightest integration is between Mac and Windows.
If you combine it with VMWare Fusion, you will get one great experience.
Parallels Desktop virtual machine allows you to emulate Windows HP, Windows 7, 8 or 10 as a guest operating system since it is now compatible with OS X El Capitan.
There is no rebooting; you can run both Mac and Windows applications simultaneously. You are also provided with the tools for moving your files from one operating system to another really fast.
When it comes to the features you can get, there is advanced 3D graphics, support for the Retina displays and a very easy and simple setup wizard.
However, if you would like some more advanced ones, you will have to look for them within some other virtual machine.
For those of you average users, Parallels Desktop is probably the best one at the moment.
QEMU virtual machine, or Quick EMUlator, is available for Linux users only, and it they can get it for free.
It is built upon the KVM system (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), and it can emulate a wide range of hardware and software type through a process which involves dynamic binary translation.
Moreover, it does not require admin access to run guest operating systems.
QEMU executes the guest code directly on the host machine and can emulate hardware with dynamic translation.
It also provides you with auto-resizing virtual disks. Moreover, it is one of the most regularly updated virtual machines thanks to its open source nature.
With so many advantages of these pretty little toys, one may start wondering are there any cons at all?
Unfortunately, there are. When you run many virtual machines on a host computer at the same time, each of them may become unstable at any time.
It depends on the system workload by other running virtual machines.
This is not so unexpected when you think about it a bit harder.
Furthermore, a virtual machine is not as efficient as a real one when accessing the hardware.
Additionally, some virtualization programs do not feature USB ports in virtual machines, or in other words, you cannot access USB or serial devices physically plugged into a host machine on virtual server.
So, whatever your purpose is for using virtual machines, remember that staying completely anonymous and secure on the Internet is almost impossible.
You don’t have to be a drug dealer or any other cyber criminal for wanting to be invisible online.
Whether you want to do it for some personal reasons, for example, if you are a cannabis user for medical treatments in a state which hasn’t approved it yet, or wishing to express your sexual orientation and political views in a conservative society, these virtual machine toys can help you keep your discretion.
However, you can never be too precautious.
You shouldn’t open any of the social network websites or check your emails if you’re browsing the Deep Web from your virtual machines.
It is self-explanatory how these sites could reveal your identity.