A virtual machine can make a massive amount of difference to the way that you use your computer. They can help to keep your computer secure, allow you to experiment with programs, and more, all without making any permanent changes to your machine.
Yet what is a virtual machine, and how do they work? When and why would you want to use one?
In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at these amazing programs and how you can use them to improve your IT experience.
Are you ready to learn more about using a VM? Then read on!
What Is a Virtual Machine?
Before we take a look at why you might want to use a virtual machine, we should take a closer look at what they are. In essence, a virtual machine is a computer inside your computer.
When you use virtual machine software, it creates a virtualized environment inside your machine, which functions like a completely separate machine. You can use any operating system that you want on these virtual machines, and it won’t make a jot of difference to your main computer.
The virtual machine runs in a window on your computer like any other program, except the program is simulating an entire PC.
Why You Should Use a Virtual Machine
Now that we’ve looked at what a VM is, it’s time to learn why using a virtual machine can be incredibly useful. Let’s take a closer look at these great uses and their benefits.
1. They Let You Run Other Operating Systems on Your Machine
One of the key advantages of virtual machines is that they can run any operating system that’s compatible with your system’s hardware. This means that if you have a MacBook that runs on macOS, you can use a Mac OS virtual machine to run Windows in a, well, a window on your desktop. You could use it to run Linux, too!
This means that you can use a virtual machine to load software that would otherwise be incompatible with your system, which can be very useful, especially with niche apps that are only designed for one OS.
2. They’re Great for Testing Purposes
Whether you’re a coder or a software reviewer, there are times when you need to test software. However, you don’t always want to do this on your main machine, as certain tests can have seriously negative effects on the OS’ integrity.
Let’s say that you want to test an antimalware program. The only way to do this is with malware samples, which you can get by visiting certain websites that collate malicious domains.
If you run this test on your main machine and the antimalware program fails, you’ve now got an infection on your machine, which will be a lot of work to deal with. If you run the test on a virtual machine and the program fails, then all you need to do is reset the virtual machine back to its original state and your machine is as good as new.
3. You Can Develop Software for Multiple Platforms
If you’re a developer, you’ll know how important it is for software to be available across multiple operating systems. However, developing across multiple operating systems can be irritating if you keep having to switch between physical machines for testing purposes.
With virtual machines, there’s no need to switch between physical machines. You can simply boot up a virtual machine of any OS that you like, then load up your software and see how it runs. If you want to code from within the virtual machine, you can do that too.
4. They’re Great for Experimentation
Let’s say that you’re new to the world of computer science and you want to learn more about how your OS works. If you’re a Windows user, for instance, maybe you want to explore the registry and see what tweaking certain settings will do.
If you tweak the registry in the wrong way, you could easily break the OS. This means that doing this on your host machine is a terrible idea: you could end up having to reinstall your OS and lose access to your files because of one small mistake.
However, if you are running a virtual machine, you can tinker and tweak to your heart’s content. If you make a mistake and break the VM, well, you can just reload it.
5. You Can Move VMs Between Machines
If you need to keep using the same VM but want to move it to another machine, this is a very easy process. VMs are stored in a handful of files that you can easily slot onto a memory stick or upload to the cloud.
Then all you need to do is install the right VM software and transfer the files, then you’re ready to go.
6. No Need to Purchase New Hardware
One of the great benefits of using a virtual machine is that there’s no need to purchase new hardware. If you don’t use a virtual machine and want to develop across two, three, or even more machines, then you’d need to have access to that many physical machines.
With virtual machine technology, you can create any number of virtual machines on one host, which saves a whole heap of money.
Using a Virtual Machine Comes With Big Benefits
If you’ve never used a virtual machine before, you should consider using one. Whether you’d use it for work or pleasure, the benefits are too significant to pass up. Add the fact that you can get free virtual machine software, at least for personal use, and there’s no reason not to use virtual machines.
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