Today I’d like to talk a bit about Virtual Machines. In case you don’t know, a virtual machine is a programme that you can run under the big three OS flavours (Windows, Linux and Mac), which emulates a full computer. You can change the hardware, pick your OS, load and unload software, and treat it as you would a real, physical system.
- Deal with Windows Rot – After awhile, if your virtual machine is getting too bogged down to accomplish anything in a decent period of time, you can just ditch the machine and easily reinstall your OS. (From an .iso image or physical disc. Yes, with a virtual machine, even your CDs and DVDs can be virtualized).
- Security – Because these machines are generally isolated from one another, it is unlikely that malware or viruses will be able to spread from one to the next. You could even be extreme enough to only run antivirus software on the machine that is going to be accessing the internet, and not bother running it on machines which will be completely self-contained.
- Ease of Backing Up – A virtual machine resides on your physical computer as either a single file or directory. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment to copy this machine and move it from place to place.
- Ease of Upgrading/Migrating/Dealing with Catastrophes – If you’ve ever tried to upgrade the motherboard under Windows, or, heaven forbid, move to an entirely new computer but continue using your existing Windows installation (It happens CONSTANTLY in business when a machine dies… Nobody wants to reinstall all their apps and settings at work), you know that Windows is pathetically unable to cope with too many new components being in the mix from one boot to the next. Now you can simply get any machine you like off the shelf, install the virtual machine software, and copy the files from the old to the new. You’re up and running in an hour or two instead of days.