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How do I Choose the Best Virtual Machine Configuration?

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  • Written By: Gabriele Sturmer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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Virtual machines are useful in that you can run and network virtual machines with various operating systems within your chosen emulation software. This reduces the need for separate hardware for each system and is a safer alternative when trying out new software or system settings. When choosing a virtual machine configuration, you should consider the operating system your virtual machine will use and your computer's physical hardware. After gathering the requirements of both of these items, you'll be able to determine the optimal configuration for your virtual machine without negatively affecting the host computer's performance.

Your virtual machine minimum specifications are determined by the operating system it will run, so you should first consult your operating system's system requirements. You should especially pay attention to the memory, processor, graphics and disk space requirements. Although the minimum requirements may work well if you plan only to perform light tasks on the virtual machine, something close to the recommended requirements may be better for your virtual machine configuration. If you plan to use several virtual machines at once, you'll likely want to stay near the lower end of the requirements for the best performance altogether.

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After you've figured out the system requirements for your virtual machine's operating system, you should consider your computer's hardware. If you have a lot of memory, hard drive space and a multi-core processor, you'll be able to take advantage of these for your virtual machine configuration. You should also update your host computer's operating system and disable any unnecessary programs or services. This not only improves your computer's performance but can also improve its security. If your host computer does not have much memory or hard drive space, you should consider upgrading these items for your virtual machine to perform at its best.

When you set your initial virtual machine configuration, some products include an option for setting the level of performance for the virtual machine so you can prioritize its performance, if necessary. You might also see a slider on the memory setting that recommends the minimum and maximum memory to use, which helps you ensure that you're using the optimal setting. When you decide how much hard drive space to use, it's usually a good idea to set aside considerably more than the operating system's requirement and to allow space for personal files. Finally, keep in mind that you can always adjust these settings later if it becomes necessary.

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