Where Are Virtual Machines Stored?
Virtual machines are an incredible tool that is continuously becoming more accessible and user-friendly. In fact, there are numerous applications available to create virtual machines that are easy for anyone to use, no matter your skill level or experience.
Virtual machines are stored in a location that is dependent on several factors, including Operating System and application. If not specified, there will be a default location determined by the application, such as the Documents or Shared folders.
This article will provide detailed information on creating a virtual machine, where they’re stored, and tips on how to most effectively use them.
How To Create a Virtual Machine
In addition to numerous how-to videos and online tutorials, each application for creating virtual machines provides instructions on how to get the most out of their product. There are various applications currently available, all with special features that set them apart from the rest. Although virtual machines are fairly easy to create, it’s important to research and understand the process so that you can get the most out of this popular feature.
Install a Virtual Machine Application
There are many different options for applications that work with a variety of Operating Systems. For each, there are many reviews of the pros and cons provided by other users. Luckily, most are free to download or offer costless trials, so you can figure out which application is best for your needs. Some of the most popular are:
- Parallels Desktop: Developed for Mac users who want to run Microsoft software, this is a free application perfect for those with limited experience with virtual machines.
- VirtualBox: Completely free and open-source, this is an application Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows that’s easy to use and popular.
- VMWare Fusion: Created by the same people behind VMWare Player, VMWare Fusion is for Mac users.
Create a “New Virtual Machine” Within the Application
To do this, you must choose the name, the operating system you’d like to use, how much memory is needed, and where to store the virtual hard disk. The amount of storage used by your new virtual machine can either be “fixed” or “dynamically allocated,” which would depend on your needs.
Try Out Your New Virtual Machine
The new virtual machine should show up within your application and must include any necessary installation requirements. This can be organized within your application’s settings, and it may need to be directed to a disk or wherever this information is. You can start and discard virtual machines by accessing the application.
For a great video on how to set up a virtual machine, watch this informational video from ExplainingComputers:
How To Organize Your Virtual Machines
As with any downloads, software, or applications, it’s important to organize your virtual machines. By doing this, the user can access them more efficiently and get the most out of them. For each virtual machine application, there are many resources available that guide how to store, use, and reorganize the virtual machines. These resources include public forums, videos, and the website for each of the applications.
Determine the Location of Your Virtual Machine
The default location of the files comprising virtual machines is dependent on several factors. Configuration files, log files, and virtual disk files are all integral parts of what makes up a virtual machine and can be located in numerous spots depending on:
- Operating System: Depending on whether you are using a Windows, Mac, or Linux host, the location would be different.
- Application or Product: There are many different types of virtual machine applications, with different versions of each available. For example, from VMWare, there are eight products available for Desktop and App Virtualization alone.
For example, virtual machines created with VMWare have a default location of your Documents folder. For the Parallels application, this location could also be the Documents folder or under the Shared folder on your computer.
Group Your Virtual Machines
Some applications, such as Oracle VirtualBox, offer the option to group your virtual machines. This is a great idea for those who plan to make multiple virtual machines for various uses. Some of these purposes might be:
- The ability to securely browse sites that could potentially infect your computer with viruses or other malware.
- The chance to try out other Operating Systems and the software may only be compatible with that system.
- With a virtual machine, users can test software and set up tasks and tests to improve their final product.
- Without any long-term consequences, users can examine different malicious programs and what proactive measures can be taken to defend a system from them.
Effectively Using Virtual Machines
Using virtual machines is becoming increasingly popular due to their many benefits. Because of this, users are constantly experimenting and finding new ways to get the most out of their virtual machines. This includes how best to use the software, improve performance with tool packages and accessories that increase overall speed.
Tips for Increasing Speed of Your Virtual Machines
There are many ways in which the user can maximize the performance and speed of their virtual machine. Some of these methods include the following:
Have Your Virtual Machines Stored on a Solid-State Drive (SSD)
Due to their speed and the large amount of data they hold, SSDs are a great option. If you’re not ready to upgrade your internal drive, external SSDs are top-rated and come in various sizes and styles. For the fastest performance of your virtual machine, it’s best to use a USB 3.0 drive rather than a USB 2.0.
Buying an SSD is an excellent way to update your current set-up, whether it’s an internal or external drive. SSDs are fast, easy to use, and extremely durable as an external drive. If you’d like to proceed with buying one, I recommend the Seagate BarraCuda Fast SSD from Amazon, as there are capacity options of 500 GB, 1TB, and 2TB.
Choose the Most Efficient Settings When Creating Your Virtual Machine
Although setting up your virtual machine is relatively easy, some options provide better overall performance. Instead of dynamically allocated disks, make fixed-sized disks as it makes it a lot easier to add new files to your virtual machines. Allocate more memory and more CPU to allow the virtual machine to perform faster.
Experiment With Different Applications and Programs
Different ones work better differently based on the Operating Systems and the configuration of the system. The performance of your virtual machine and its files will differ based on numerous factors. As there are currently so many applications available, it’s worth trying out multiple types to figure out what works best for your set-up. Additionally, all applications are laid out differently, and some are more user-friendly than others.
Install the Tool Package on Your Virtual Machine Software
Although they differ, there are tool packages available that improve performance and speed. For example, the package for Parallels is called Parallels Tools. It’s also important to consistently update these tool packages to ensure that they’re as up to date as possible.
If you’re using VirtualBox, this video from Benjamin’s Tech provides great advice on how to increase speed and performance:
To get the most out of virtual machines, it’s important to understand the steps required to set them up and organize them. There are many different types of applications available, all for different purposes and Operating Systems. Additionally, the product chosen will help determine what the user may eventually use the virtual machine.
Although the virtual machine’s default location depends on the application and Operating System, it’s possible to change the location. The user can also choose to group their virtual machines, which is a great option if you have many with different purposes.
- VMWare: Products
- IBM: Virtual Machines
- How-To Geek: How to Create and Use Virtual Machines
- Tech Target: 4 steps to ensure virtual machine security in cloud computing
- The Intercept: With Virtual Machines, Getting Hacked Isn’t That Bad
- Techopedia: 10 Ways Virtualization Can Improve Security
- VMWare: Default File Location of a Virtual Machine
- Parallels: Transfer an existing virtual machine to a new Mac or an external drive
- Geek University: Virtual machine groups
- How-To Geek: The Complete Guide to Speeding Up Your Virtual Machine