Building a Virtual Computer

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By Hartley R Smith II
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Expert Author Hartley R Smith II

Do you have and love an Apple computer but wonder what the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows is like? Do you have a PC and wonder what it would be like to use Apple’s newest operating system? Do you ever want to try a piece of new software but are afraid that it might mess up your computer? These are questions people ask when it is time to upgrade their computers, or when a new piece of software comes out.

It would be nice if you could test new operating systems and software right on your current computer without the need to buy a new computer or run the risk of damaging your current computer. Well fortunately, there is a way to do just that by building a virtual computer on your current computer whether you have PC or Mac.

The first thing that you have to do is download a virtual machine builder from VirtualBox.org. Then click on downloads and find the download for the type of machine that you have, i.e. Mac, Linux, PC etc. Depending on the speed of your machine, the download could take up to 30 minutes. Once you have done this, run the application and go through the setup process. Once done, you will have a ‘Virtual Box’ shortcut on your desktop and if the application is not already running, double click the icon to start the virtual building program.

The next thing you will do is click the ‘new’ icon and then start going through the setup process by just clicking the continue button until you get to the ‘virtual hard disk’ section. Once there you want to choose ‘use existing hard disk’. The reason for this is that before you can do anything you must have an operating system in place.

Once it is in place you can test software without damaging your main computer or you can just keep downloading other operating systems so you can try them out before installing it on your main computer. Once you have downloaded the operating system that you want to test you can find it on your computer and load the file onto the virtual box then hit the create button and you are done. All you need to do now is hit the start button and a window will automatically open up and start running the operating system you just downloaded into it.

You will now have your main computer running and this virtual computer with the operating system you just installed running. If you want to install a piece of software to test it out, just download it onto your virtual computer just like you would your regular computer and if it causes the virtual computer to crash, it would not damage your main computer. If not, you get to sample it without worrying how it will affect your main system. That is the beauty of having a virtual computer on your physical computer.

One thing to understand is that when running your virtual computer; remember that it is sharing the resources of your regular computer, so it will not run as fast as if it had the computer all to itself. Fortunately, modern processors, both Intel and AMD, have virtualization features built in. This means your virtual computer should operate relatively smooth.

The point of building a virtual machine is to test out other operating systems and programs without worrying about if it will crash your main system. Your computer will treat the virtual Box as if it were a separate computer so malware and viruses in the virtual machine will not affect your main computer. All you would have to do is delete the software or operating system and start again. Websites like chromeos.hexxeh.com have operating systems like Chrome OS that you can download free and try building your very own virtual computer.

Once you know how to do this, you can build a virtual computer and test software on it or test out different operating systems to see if you like how they work before you buy the operating system or piece of software. This tool is a great way to save money and try before you buy.

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