Top 7 Reasons to Start Using a Virtual Machine


virtual-machine-iconVirtual machines unlock many new possibilities. From opening suspicious-looking files all the way to trying out an operating system that you’ve never fiddled with before. And there’s plenty of free VM software; you don’t even have to spend a dime in the process. Yet, many people don’t know virtual machines exist.

As long as you know how to install one (the procedure varies depending on the operating system you’re using), you’re all set to give it a whirl. But before moving on to all the useful things you can do with one, let’s cover the basics first.

What is a Virtual Machine (VM)?

Imagine operating a computer inside a computer. That’s a good way to describe a virtual machine.


So what’s the main difference between the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ computers? The virtual machine borrows whatever hardware resources you choose to allocate to it from your hardware. Apart from that, it behaves like a standalone computer.

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Software-vise, a VM can run anything your real computer could, and more if you choose to install a different OS – but more on that soon. All in all, a virtual machine is suitable for all but the most resource-intensive tasks. And it works as long as your physical computer is running.

Still not sure you want to install one? These 7 reasons might sway your mind.

1. Testing out Another Operating System

Now that Windows 7 has reached its end of the life cycle, many users are contemplating switching to another OS like Linux instead of upgrading to a more recent version of the OS. The problem is, they may not have another computer lying around to play around with Linux to see whether it suits them or not. But you can install the OS on a virtual machine to check it out. When you’re done, deleting it is as easy as pie.

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2. Running Software That Your OS Doesn’t Support

Even if you’re a die-hard Linux fan, there are cases where running some software is straight-up easier on another OS or requires less hassle. It holds for the business and casual users alike. Linux does support Wine and other means of bringing your favorite Windows programs in. But it isn’t always guaranteed to work, thus prompting you to think about a virtual machine.

3. Visiting Websites That You Don’t Trust

There’s always this one website you’ve never trusted but wanted to check it out anyway. The good news is, you can set up a virtual machine for this purpose. Even if the website in question does turn out to be malware-ridden, none of it will come out of the contained cage that is your trusty VM.

That said, bear in mind your real IP is still visible to the webmaster. Unless you go the extra mile to shield it with a VPN, that is. Whether you choose to install it on your router or the virtual machine itself, it’ll do the trick just the same.

4. Running Software That is Out of Date

It goes without saying how much of a cybersecurity risk it is to be running unpatched or outdated software. However, your workplace or business requirements might make it a necessity. As opposed to relying on your main machine to do the job, why not fire up a virtual environment? You’ll still be able to use it as usual without compromising your security. Hence, getting the best of both worlds.

5. Playing Retro Video Games

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Some say that the 90s were the golden era of video gaming. As enjoyable as these titles maybe, they were written for older operating systems. The newer ones may not be supporting them any longer. Why buy an ancient machine to run these games if a simple VM will do just fine?

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6. Opening Suspicious Files

Every once in awhile, you may need to open a file that you wouldn’t want to run on your main machine for security reasons. Guess what? Even if you get the entire virtual machine infected with nasty malware, you can turn it off afterward without fears of it seeping through to the main one.

Better yet, you can make a virtual copy before opening such files. If it turns out they’re spreading malware, you can always delete the infected VM and replace it with a clean one as though nothing had happened.

7. Playing Around with System Settings

Have you ever wanted to try playing around with your core system? Many do but end up changing their mind due to fears of messing something up without a clue on how to restore it. A virtual machine is a perfect answer. You can play around with it in any way you like and gain valuable experience before building up the confidence to alter your core system.

Conclusion

As you can see, having a virtual machine at hand solves many problems, and it’s so much fun. The only thing that remains is reading a guide on how to install it on your operating system of choice, and you’ll be good to go.


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Ivcho Georgiev

A professional app developer, tech author, and writer who talks about technology and innovation in the world of hardware and software. His expertise is in software, mobile apps, and games running and operating on operating systems like Windows and Mac. You can reach me on social media.

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