Virtualization software is like an emulator computer game which lets you play Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sony Playstation, and Atari Console games on your home computer with ROM files. You can install Virtualization software on a Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, and other types of operating systems for computers and servers.
Advantages of Using Virtualization Software
One of the major advantages of virtualization, also sometimes referred as a virtual PC, is that it is cheaper than buying multiple computers or servers to run multiple operating systems. You save a lot of physical space since you do not have to buy separate computers to run a firewall, print server, e-mail server, file server, and other types of servers in a corporate environment. One computer can run multiple operating systems for each application.
If you are a Windows or Mac User, you can run Linux from a virtual machine which will display a Linux Desktop through a Window on your main operating system, without the need to restart/shutdown your computer. You can then easily use Linux exclusive software without the need to dual boot your computer.
Hard drive space savings of virtualization vs traditional operating installs
Virtual PC uses less space as well since the virtual disks can be dynamic, meaning they will grow as they need more space, so you do not need to partition a lot of space like 20GB for them to install on your computer as you would if installing two operating systems on a dual boot computer.
Plus, you do not risk data loss when using Virtualization because you do not have to resize your physical hard drive partition and change your master boot files to activate a dual boot feature. In summary, there is less computer hard drive waste because a virtual PC configured with a dynamic disk will only use what it needs while leaving the rest of your hard drive space alone.
Safer to use than an average operating system
Virtualization is also a lot safer than dual boot computers, and operating systems installed directly on your hard drive since they are sandboxed from your actual computer. They run from a file, so getting a virus on a virtual machine PC is less likely to infect the "host" computer because the sandbox shields your files from your host computer. Virtual PCs are also great for testing software for bugs, security threats like viruses, and stability of software on multiple operating systems without owning multiple computers with different operating systems installed on them.
It is also easy to set and restore your virtual machine from what's called a snapshot, which can return your virtual PC to the date and time you made the snapshot. This is not unlike using a System Restore point on Windows. Alternatively, you can back up your virtual machine to an external drive to restore from if you mess up your current virtual machine.
Faster Operating system startups
Starting a Virtual Machine might be faster than rebooting your computer into Windows, Linux, or Mac since your computer does not have to check your RAM, CPU, hard drive, and hardware for damage which can take several seconds on a typical computer.
You can also switch between Windows, Linux, or Mac by selecting a Window rather than restarting your computer or turning on another computer to use Windows, Linux, or Mac.
VMware and VirtualBox are popular virtualization software for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Parallels is another popular Virtualization software for Mac to run Windows XP, or Windows 7 on the Mac without restarting your computer like bootcamp. All of these software packages allow you to run software unique to an operating system in a virtual environment from your desktop.