How to Install a Virtual Machine on an External Hard Drive?
Virtual machines or VMs are nice to have for those who want to run multiple operating systems on one single computer without actually having a separate device. It can act like a computer on its own even though you are simply opening it through a window on your computer.
However, because VMs can take up your hard disk space, you might want to install them on an external hard drive. So, right now, we are going to talk about how to install a virtual machine on an external hard drive.
First you have to have a compatible external hard drive for virtual machines.
How to install a VM on an external hard drive
Decide on a VM app
The first thing you need to do here is to research the different virtual machine apps that you can use depending on your operating system.
Most of the best and highest-rated virtual machine apps can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux, but you have to do your research first to check which among them is the one suited for your needs.
While there may be differences between the setup process of different VM apps, the gist is almost entirely the same and their purposes are also nearly the same as well.
It’s just that some VM apps work better and are only available in other operating systems while others will provide you a wider range of operating systems to choose from for your VM.
Here is a list of some of the most popular VM apps:
After choosing the best VM for your needs and operating system, you should visit the page of your chosen VM to find out how to acquire it. Some VMs might require payment while others are totally free.
It’s better for you to keep your options open and weigh the pros and cons of choosing a paid product over a free one.
Also, before you proceed, it is interesting to note that you may lose some speed and performance if you choose to install the VM in an external hard drive instead of using your computer’s internal drive.
So, in that case, you may want to use a portable SSD but it would be far too expensive for you to do so and you won’t be able to enjoy the same storage capacity that hard drives do. Nevertheless, SSDs are a lot faster but you will be trading a lot of money and storage capacity for them.
Download VM app’s installer on your external hard drive
After downloading your chosen VM’s corresponding installer, run the downloaded file and allow it to extract everything in your external hard drive instead of your internal hard drive to expedite the installation process.
There will be instances where the installer will automatically download the files onto the same folder as your installer but you can also choose where you want to download the files onto.
That’s why it is better to download the installer on the external hard drive so that everything will be downloaded and installed there.
Install the VM app on your external hard drive
After downloading the installer and running the extraction on your external hard drive, launch the .exe program, and install the VM app on your external hard drive. Take note here that, in some cases depending on your chosen VM, the VM app must not be installed on your computer.
Setting up the VM
After the installation has been completed, open the VM app through your external hard drive. The wizard will guide you throughout the entire process such as the OS you want to install through the virtual machine.
You are also free to type the name of the OS you want to install and its corresponding version in case you want to use an older version of that OS.
Depending on the OS you want to install as a VM, the app may also choose some default settings that you are free to change later on after the installation has been completed.
For example, there might be a default memory that would be allocated to the VM but you are free to change that if you want. If you are okay with the default settings, just proceed with the rest of the setup process.
There are also cases where the VM will ask if you want to create a virtual disk that would be used by the VM’s OS every time you are using it. For those who are using external hard drives, it might be better to allow the VM app to create a virtual hard drive.
In the hard drive creation setup, you will also be prompted whether you want a fixed-size hard drive or one that has been allocated dynamically.
Because external hard drives have huge disk spaces and they are slower compared to when you are using your computer’s internal drive, it would be better to choose the fixed-sized option to allow the VM to run smoother.
After the setup has been completed, you can now open and use your virtual machine from your external hard drive whenever you want to use it.
Why use an external hard drive for your VM?
As mentioned, running a VM through your computer’s internal drive might be easier and smoother but there are some benefits when it comes to using an external hard drive instead:
- You can install more VMs on the external hard drive without compromising your computer’s internal disk space.
- VMs in external hard drives can be brought anywhere and are much more convenient for those who are always on the go and are not able to carry their computers and or even their laptops.
- Using public computers becomes easier and safer for you because you are now using your VM instead of the public computer’s own OS and that you are not going to end up inputting sensitive data or saving private files onto the public computer’s hard drive.