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4.5 out of 5
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PROS: Operating system virtualization with no cost to the user. Easy to use and simple for users of all skill levels. Small footprint on system resources (other than the resources used by the virtual machine.)

CONS: There aren’t many cons with this program; however, the biggest thing that I dislike is the main menu, which is used to load the VMs— it just doesn’t match up to VMWare Workstation. But … this is free so I’ll live with it. Although the interface is kept simple, I find myself clicking next far too many times when setting up a virtual machine for the first time.

VERDICT: If you’re looking for a virtual machine host solution—whether it be for software testing, for virus execution and fun, or too write guides like I do without restarting your computer every five minutes, VirtualBox will do this for you.

PRICE: Free

VERSION REVIEWED: 3.0.4 (Screenshots) Using 3.1.4.

DOWNLOAD: Virtual Box

What does VirtualBox Do?

A virtual machine is an application or operating system that runs within another operating system. The purpose of a virtual machine varies — I use virtual machines to test the guides and software I write about in Windows XP and Vista. Other people use virtual machines to test the software they create, let a virus loose within an isolated environment, or because they have so much memory in their machine and they don’t know what to do with it. VirtualBox, owned by Sun Micro Systems, is a free and open source virtualization product.

In this review, I’ll talk about the program while showing you what it is capable of.

Install VirtualBox

When setting up the software, I recommend including everything that comes with it. Unlike VMWare workstation, which takes up over 700 MB on your hard drive, VirtualBox only takes up around 85 MB.

VirtualBox requires new drivers which interface your physical hardware with and the virtualized environment it creates. Thus, it is important to install these drivers when prompted.

Virtual Box 2

Create a Virtual Machine

Note: You will need either the installation disc or an ISO image of the operating system you wish to install.

After installation, you can open the program and click on New to create a new virtual machine.

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The new virtual machine wizard opens, click next.

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Give a descriptive name to the operating system you’re about to install and select the operating system and version from the drop-down list.

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Select he amount of memory you’d like to use for the operating system; VirtualBox will give recommendations on how much memory you should use. I recommend using at least the amount of memory recommended by VirtualBox and at most half of total physical memory you have in your machine.

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Leave the defaults on the next screen and click next.

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Click next.

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Choose Dynamically expanding storage and click next.

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Choose where to store the virtual image (make sure you’re storing on a drive with enough space.)

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Select he maximum size of the guest operating system disk (I recommend a maximum of 20 GB unless you are sure you need more.)

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Click Finish.

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Now, in the left-hand menu, click the operating system you just created and click Start.

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As this is a new installation, Windows will now set up just like it sets up in a non-virtualised (normal) environment. Click Next.

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Locate the ISO image or insert the installation disk.

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If you opt for an ISO image, you’ll need to add it to the Virtual Media Manager.

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Locate the ISO file.

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Now select your loaded ISO file.

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Now you’re ready to install the operating system you chose, click Next.

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Your operating system will now install.

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VirtualBox is a great program and you can’t beat free. I dislike how many times I had to click next, Finish, Yes etc. when setting up a virtual machine for the first-time and the interface isn’t the worlds prettiest; however, these are my main complaints with this program and aside from my perceived shortfalls, this is an excellent piece of software.

Download Virtual Box

Download Virtual Box

Download Virtual Box



About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

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