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VMware Player vs VirtualBoxWorking as software reviewer means that you have to install at least twenty new apps every week and uninstall them again as soon as you're done with your analysis. However we all know how unhealthy this habit is for Windows, so using a virtual environment is almost compulsory. Virtual operating systems provide you with a safe sandbox where you can test as many programs without affecting the host system. What's more, they usually feature an easy way to rid of a slow, app-ridden Windows and get a fresh, brand-new installation in a couple of clicks.

Among the several virtualization apps available today, I've tried VMware Player and VirtualBox. Though I've used the latter only for a few weeks now, I already found some interesting similarities – and its corresponding differences – between both programs that I thought would be worth pointing out.

VMware Player vs VirtualBoxBoth VMware Player and VirtualBox are free apps, which is always a good point for a start. However VMware Player is more limited, because it doesn't allow you to create new images (i.e. virtual operating systems) while VirtualBox does. If you want to create new images for VMware Player, you'll have to upgrade to the more pricey Workstation version.

As for general performance, I find VMware Player to be more stable than VirtualBox. The first one usually runs very smoothly – except for the odd blue screen of death – while the second one has often shown a blank screen on my virtual machine, which means the system is frozen and you need to restart. Besides this stability issue, the truth is that VirtualBox is lighter on resources than VMware Player, making it easier to work with the host and guest systems in parallel. Relating to this, VirtualBox also features a really handy tool you don't find in VMware Player: the possibility to "pause" the virtual machine, so that a good percentage of processor power and memory are released and you can then run heavy apps like Photoshop with no further hassle.

VMware Player vs VirtualBoxRegarding usability, both programs have their own pros and cons. On the one hand, VMware Player supports shared folders and also lets you directly drag and drop files between both the guest and host systems, while VirtualBox only works with shared folders that you need to configure before running the program. Keyboard and mouse swapping between the guest and host machines is generally more intuitive in VMware Player, whereas VirtualBox requires you to press a hotkey. Also, copying and pasting between the two operating systems works for VMware Player, but not for VirtualBox. On the other hand, VirtualBox enables you to create the so called snapshots, which let you restore the system to a previous state at any time. This comes in really handy when the image is not working properly and you can't bother to create a new one: simply restore it to a previous fully working snapshot and you're done.

VMware Player vs VirtualBox

In general terms, I'd say VMware Player is more intended to heavy users who need a reliable, powerful virtual environment to test software or try new operating systems, while VirtualBox seems to be more focused on not so techie people, who only want to test new apps in a safe environment without compromising the integrity of their computers. Now it's your turn to try them and make up your mind.

Commented

  • Imran Shahid |
    05/09/08
    Imran Shahid

    VirtualBox Guest Additions add extra functionality to a Gust OS. They are installed very easily inside the guest OS and provide the following features. Mouse pointer integration, Better video support, Time synchronization, Shared folders, Seamless windows, Shared clipboard and Automated Windows logons (credentials passing; Windows guests only).

  • Imran Shahid |
    05/09/08
    Imran Shahid

    VirtualBox Guest Additions add extra functionality to a Guest OS. They are installed very easily inside the guest OS and provide the following features. Mouse pointer integration, Better video support, Time synchronization, Shared folders, Seamless windows, Shared clipboard and Automated Windows logons (credentials passing; Windows guests only).

    More details can be found in the VirtualBox help.

  • eduardo Londero |
    31/10/08
    eduardo Londero

    Hi Elena, I´m having dificulty to run a virtualized XP in a player copied to a notebook. When I boot XP (but not 98 and either 2003) the keyboard understands all keys as if Fn were pressed. L became 3, J became 1 and so on. I´m asking that because your pages pop up in google and I have done some research and becaming tired. VMWare doesn´t provide support and it´s site is too clumsy, heavy loaded with propaganda. Thanks anyway --------------------- speak portuguese ? ------------------ Oi Elena Minha maquina virtual de trabalho predileta, que já tem um monte de coisas configuradas, entende errado as teclas de duplo sentido (que atendem o Fn) depois de copiadas para o notebook. Sabes como domar esse teclado do player no notebook ? Já ouviste comentário a respeito ? Obrigado de qualquer forma! ---------------------------------------------

  • sanjay |
    12/04/09
    sanjay

    If you use the the guestadditions on virtualbox you can itegrate the mouse seemlessly and also expand and shrink the virtalbox windows and it adjusts the sceen settings automatically. Also sharing folders is great.

    I have found virtualbox to be very reliable - it has never crashed at all. The funny thing is the XP on my virtual box boots faster than XP on a comparable real machine.

    Way to go sun .....

  • dave |
    19/05/09
    dave

    Keyboard and mouse swapping, copying and pasting, between the guest and host machines is the same between VMware Player and VirtualBox provided VMGuestAdditions is installed in the VM. One con is that VirtualBox version 2.2.2r46594 does not include a compatible audio virtualization driver when running Windows 7 RC in a VM.

  • DVD Tutorials |
    11/04/10
    DVD Tutorials

    Vmware costs money while Virtual Box is free. However on most forums and other similar blogs, I've read that VirtualBox is better overall. Many guys have claimed that their systems work faster on Virtualbox in comparison with VMware. The system must be high on resources If you want to run multiple operating systems simultaneously.

  • Tommy |
    25/02/12
    Tommy

    VMWare now has pause and snapshots. I don't know what version of VMWare this was written for, but the current one has the exact features that this article pointed out as the major advantages of VirtualBox.

  • *Tom |
    26/02/12
    *Tom

    @Tommy - the article is from 2008. So yeah, it's probably time for a fresh look at the two.

  • Max |
    23/07/13
    Max

    Windows 98 is Speedy Gonsalez on VMWare, but Slowpoke Rodrigez in VirtualBox. VMware has tools for windows 98 while VirtualBox does not.

23/12/14
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