Setting Up a Virtual Machine
Once you’ve decided on a VM app and gotten it installed, setting up a VM is actually pretty easy. We’re going to run through the basic process in VirtualBox, but most apps handle creating a VM the same way.
Open up your VM app and click the button to create a new virtual machine.
You’ll be guided through the process by a wizard that first asks which OS you’ll be installing. If you type the name of the OS in the “Name” box, the app will most likely automatically select the type and version for the OS. If it doesn’t—or it guesses wrong—select those items yourself from the dropdown menus. When you’re done, click “Next.”
Based on the OS you plan to install, the wizard will preselect some default settings for you, but you can change them over the screens that follow. You’ll be asked how much memory to allocate to the VM. If you want something other than the default, select it here. Otherwise, just click “Next.” And don’t worry, you’ll be able to change this value later if you need to.
The wizard will also create the virtual hard disk file to be used by the VM. Unless you already have a virtual hard disk file you want to use, just select the option to create a new one.
You’ll also be asked whether to create a dynamically allocated or fixed size disk. With a dynamically allocated disk, you’ll set a maximum disk size, but the file will only grow to that size as it needs to. With a fixed size disk, you’ll also set a size, but the file created will be that large from its creation.
We recommend creating fixed size disks because, while they eat up a little more disk space, they also perform better—making your VM feel a bit more responsive. Plus, you’ll know how much disk space you’ve used and won’t get surprised when your VM files start growing.
You’ll then be able to set the size of the virtual disk. You’re free to go with the default setting or change the size to suit your needs. Once you click “Create,” the virtual hard disk is created.
After that, you’re dumped back into the main VM app window, where your new VM should show up. Make sure the installation media you need is available to the machine—usually this involves pointing to an ISO file or real disc through the VM’s settings. You can run your new VM by selecting it and hitting “Start.”
Of course, we’ve just touched on the basics of using VMs here. If you’re interested in more reading, check out some of our other guides:
- The Complete Guide to Speeding Up Your Virtual Machines
- How to Create and Run Virtual Machines with Hyper-V
- How to Install Android in VirtualBox
- How to Share Your Computer’s Files With a Virtual Machine
- Use Portable VirtualBox to Take Virtual Machines With You Everywhere
- 10 VirtualBox Tricks and Advanced Features You Should Know About