Virtual machine: Advantages and disadvantages

Virtual machine: Advantages and disadvantages

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Updated on Mar 24, 2023 13:00 IST

In this article we will be learning about virtual machine, and it’s working. This article also covering its advantages and disadvantages.


Imagine running two operating systems on the same computer. Yes, it is possible with the help of a virtual machine. A virtual machine is a simple computer system that operates as an independent and isolated computer while running on the same physical hardware as other computers. Like any other computer, it has its own operating system and applications installed. The most famous software for this is VMware. VMs have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their many advantages. This article will look at how virtual machines work, as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Table of contents

What is a virtual machine?

A virtual machine (VM) is a virtual environment that functions like a computer within a computer.

A virtual machine is a partition on a host computer that runs its own operating system, memory, CPU power (Windows, Linux, macOS, and so on), and other resources. There are several types of virtual machines available today, including full-scale hypervisors such as VMware ESXi; desktop virtualization programs such as Parallels Desktop; container platforms such as Docker; cloud computing services such as Amazon EC2; and more specialized tools designed specifically for testing purposes like the Microsoft Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK).

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Why should businesses use virtual machines?

  1. Saving on hardware and energy costs by reducing the number of physical servers required to run and maintain.
  2. Rapid scalability without having to purchase additional hardware each time more capacity or capability is needed.
  3. Increased security and reliability compared to traditional physical infrastructure setups due to multiple isolated operating systems running within one server.
  4. Greater redundancy, with data stored on VMs remaining accessible even if a single instance fails due to internal issues.
  5. Easier management of IT environments with administrators only needing to manage one larger system that contains all necessary components for operation, simplifying routine maintenance tasks such as software updates.
  6. More efficient management is possible as updates can be done simultaneously across multiple platforms at once instead of manually addressing individual needs per device type, reducing potential downtime caused by human error during manual configuration processes.

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How do virtual machines work?

  1. Physical hardware and virtual machines are managed by a layer called the hypervisor. It assigns and manages physical resources to virtual machines and provides virtual hardware to each virtual machine, such as CPU, memory, storage, and network devices.
  2. Each virtual machine runs its own operating system, known as the guest operating system. The guest operating system interacts with the virtual hardware provided by the hypervisor, just as it would with physical hardware on a physical machine.
  3. The virtual hardware provided to the guest operating system includes virtual CPU, memory, storage, and network devices. The virtual hardware is mapped to physical hardware by the hypervisor.
  4. The physical hardware consists of the actual physical components of the computer, such as the CPU, memory, storage, and network devices. These physical components are managed by the hypervisor and allocated to the virtual machines as needed.

Additional tip

You must be confused between a guest and a host machine. The host machine is the one where the guest machine is installed. Assume you have Windows 10 installed on your computer, and you want to create a virtual machine running Linux (guest) within that host operating system. For that you may need VMware software to install Linux on the that host operating system (windows 10).

Virtual machine in cloud computing

In cloud computing, a virtual machine (VM) is a software emulation of a physical computer that runs on a remote server in the cloud. A cloud VM typically includes a virtualized set of hardware resources, such as CPU, memory, storage, and networking, which can be allocated to multiple users on demand.

In Cloud computing VMs can be accessed from any location with an internet connection to run applications, databases, and services in the cloud. Cloud VMs allow users to scale their resources up or down as needed, reducing the need for physical hardware and infrastructure.

Cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform allow users to choose the best fit for their needs and also offer a range of virtual machines with different configurations and pricing models.

Azure Virtual Machine is a cloud-based virtual machine (VM) service provided by Microsoft Azure. It allows users to create and manage virtual machines in the cloud, which can be used for a variety of purposes, such as running applications, hosting websites, and storing data.

Advantages of a virtual machine

1. Different operating systems are running simultaneously

VM is that it allows for multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on one physical machine without requiring additional hardware resources or interfering with each other’s operations. This means businesses can save money by running multiple applications on one server instead of having separate servers for each application or task they need to accomplish. 

2. Separate memory 

VMs are completely self-contained environments with their own memory and disc space allocation capabilities.

3. Security

They provide users with greater security than traditional shared hosting solutions by isolating different processes from one another, preventing malicious actors from accessing all of them at once if security protocols within the network infrastructure are breached.

4. Resource sharing

Virtual machines can share the resources of the host system, such as the CPU, memory, and disc space, among multiple guest operating systems. Multiple operating systems can be run on a single physical machine, making more efficient use of your hardware resources.

5. Portability

Virtual machines can be easily moved between different physical machines or cloud environments, providing greater flexibility in terms of deployment and scaling. Snapshots: Virtual machines can be easily backed up and restored on local machines or in cloud environments, providing greater flexibility in terms of deployment and scaling. Snapshots: Virtual machines can be easily backed up and restored. This not only enables faster recovery from system failures and other problems, but it also makes it easier to test new configurations. 

6. Compatibility

Virtual machines can run multiple operating systems on a single physical machine, allowing you to run older applications that are incompatible with newer operating systems.

Disadvantages of virtual machines

1. Compatibility issue

Migrating existing systems into VM environments can be difficult due to compatibility issues between software versions used across different platforms. Furthermore, even with the advanced automation technologies available in most modern hypervisor products today, managing complex networks involving various types of interconnected devices can be difficult.

2. Performance overhead

Virtualization can introduce performance overhead as it requires additional resources to emulate the underlying hardware. This overhead is usually minimal, but can be significant if the host computer is already running at or near maximum capacity.

3. Hardware limitations

Virtualization may be limited by the hardware resources available on the host computer. For example, if the host machine has limited memory or disc space, it can affect VM performance.

3. Complexity

Virtualization can be complex to set up and manage, especially when multiple VMs are involved. It may also require additional configuration and maintenance.

4. Security risks

Virtualization can introduce additional security risks, especially if VMs are not properly isolated from each other and from the host machine. Malicious code running in a VM can compromise other VMs and the host machine.

5. License cost

Some software licenses may not allow installation on virtual machines or require an additional license fee per VM.

6. Single point of failure

If the host computer fails, all VMs running on the host computer will also fail unless backup and redundancy mechanisms are in place.


Although virtual machines come with many benefits, including cost savings, efficiency gains, and enhanced security measures, they also present some challenges that must be taken into account before deciding whether this technology is right for your business needs. If this article helped a bit also, please consider liking it and sharing with your friends.



What is a virtual box?

VirtualBox is a free and open-source virtualization software that allows you to run multiple operating systems on a single physical machine. With VirtualBox, you can create virtual machines that are completely independent of your host operating system, allowing you to run multiple operating systems on the same computer. Virtual box supports a wide range of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, macOS, Solaris, and others. It is popular among developers, testers, and IT professionals who need to test software on different operating systems or create virtual environments for development and testing purposes.

What is a VMware workstation?

VMware Workstation is a virtualization software that allows users to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single physical computer. It is developed by VMware and is available for Windows and Linux operating systems. VMware Workstation creates a virtual machine (VM) that emulates a complete hardware environment, including CPU, memory, storage, and other peripheral devices. Users can install multiple operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS, and run them simultaneously on their computer without affecting the host operating system.

What is an azure virtual machine?

It enables users to launch virtual machines on the AWS cloud, which can be used for various purposes such as running applications, hosting websites, and storing data.AWS Virtual Machine offers several features that make it easy to manage and scale virtual machines. AWS Virtual Machine provides several tools for monitoring and managing virtual machines, including Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Config, and AWS Systems Manager.

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