How do home users use virtual machines


I understand that in a work environment, different types of servers doing specific tasks can be each a VM.

In: Engineering

A “virtual machine” is just a program that a person can set up to create sort of an operating system with an operating system. Like starting up a digital computer within Windows with its own digital operating system to run its own programs. Windows 10 has a built in feature to create a virtual machine, called Hyper-V, or you can download third party programs to set one up. From there a person can install an operating system to the VM. It uses computer resources (so you have to factor in that the base operating system, like Windows, will use memory and processor power and then the VM operating system will use memory and processor power; it also needs hard drive space to load the data to).

People use it on home computers to test out new operating systems (no risk, no necessity to deal with installations and “physically” reconfiguring hard drive space) and to test out files or websites that they don’t necessarily trust (since it won’t be able to infect your Windows operating system if it has malware).

There are some reasons to use virtual machines in recreational use as well. Firstly different software have different requirements for operating systems. So if installing a software on your current operating system is not supported then you can install the software in a virtual machine using a different operating system or configuration. Secondly you may not trust all software and installing it in its own virtual machine is a way to prevent it from reaching other applications and the main operating system.

Well, a VM is a just an operating system running under other operating system. In a work environment is useful because you can isolate the access and limit the resources that each VM can uses in order to improve security, optimize resources and because they are easier to manage(you can create, remove,start or stop virtual machines through software so you don’t need physical access to the computer).

For home users is most useful when you want different operating systems(like if your main OS is Linux but you need to run a Windows application), but you don’t want to install the other operating system instead of your current system or to install it beside it, which can be tricky. Also you benefit from the features mentioned for the work environment, most important the easy management and security, for example executing a risky application.

One use is to run a virtual machine of a particular OS on a machine that normally runs a different OS if you have some other specific need. If you’re a Mac or Linux user but want to play a Windows only game then spin up that Windows VM.

The same way everyone else does.

Software testing, running legacy programs that no longer work on modern OS’s, encapsulation to help prevent programs from interfering with others, running virtual desktops for thin/zero clients, honeypots to catch hackers, etc.

The only difference is that VM’s at home are much less common than in the work place; And that VM’s at work typically run on dedicated servers, usually through the OS called ESXi. Where as a home user will probably just run it on a normal desktop PC.