7 practical reasons to use a virtual machine

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Martí Micolau
7 practical reasons to use a virtual machine

Find out how to install one operating system inside another

What is the virtualization in the field of personal computers? It is a system whereby you take a set of physical resources, such as the CPU and RAM and disk space, and allocate them in different sections that are seen as separate systems, but which are not in "reality". A computer can be divided into many "virtual" systems.

The easiest way to do this is to use the free VirtualBox software. But the main question is: why? What is virtualization for? Here are some of the more practical ways to use a virtual machine:

1) To try new operating systems

Let's say you've always used Windows, but you are feeling adventurous and want to try Linux. Sure, you could set up a dual boot when the PC starts, but the simplest option is to try the virtualization route.

On your Windows PC install VirtualBox https://www.virtualbox.org/ and create a new virtual machine. Then grab any Linux ISO and install it on the virtual machine. You will now be able to run Linux (the "guest" -host operating system) in a window within Windows, like any other program.

This is in fact the safest way to test a new operating system because the virtual machine acts as a "sandbox" (isolated environment), if something goes wrong with the host operating system, the host operating system will not be affected.

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2) To run old or incompatible programs

Do you have any rather old programs that you have been using for years and have no substitutes? Install an old operating system (like XP) and you can continue to use it without problems.

3) To deliberately execute malware

Given the "protected" nature of a virtual machine, you can do things that you cannot do with the operating system you work with. For example, you should never open unsolicited emails with attachments, as they may contain hidden malware or viruses in various forms.

With a virtual machine, on the other hand, you can do it without problems and above all without being afraid that the main environment will be contaminated.

4) To "unmount" the operating system

If you are particularly "technological", virtual machines allow you to explore your operating system, and to experiment, without fear of repercussions. Great for becoming an expert playing with the registry, for example. Very useful for experimenting with Linux and the command line.

5) To create backup images

A great reason to start using a virtual machine is the ability to create "images" of the operating system that can be restored at any time.

6) To clone a system to another machine

Since the entire content of a virtual machine is saved on a single file, you can easily transfer that file to another computer and upload it without any problems (as long as you obviously use the same operating system).

7) To develop software on other platforms

If you are a developer and are creating a game that can be played on desktop and mobile devices, you can use virtual emulation to test different executables right on your PC.

How to get started

Before diving into the virtualization field, know that you need a fairly powerful PC if you want to move quickly (a modern CPU, at least 8 Gb of RAM, a large hard disk, preferably SSD). If not, the experience could be somewhat frustrating ...

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