Parallels Desktop for Mac is one of the few software hypervisors or virtualization software for Mac computers that enables users to install and run virtual machines or virtualized operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions within macOS. It is similar to other software hypervisors and system emulators such as VMware Fusion, Oracle VM VirtualBox, and QEMU. Nevertheless, when compared to these counterparts, Parallels Desktop for Mac has notable advantages and also important disadvantages.
Pros of Parallels Desktop for Mac: Advantages and Notable Features
1. Stable Software and Smooth Performance
One of the main selling points and advantages of Parallels Desktop for Mac is that it is a stable software with an established software development history. This software hypervisor is known for its smoother performance when compared to VMware Fusion and Oracle VM VirtualBox based on tests. Strong support for Microsoft DirectX 11 also makes it the most ideal option for running and playing PC games on a guest Windows operating system on macOS.
2. Ease of Installing and Customization Options
Installing Windows or Linux distributions such as Debian or Ubuntu is an upfront process. These operating systems can be installed from various sources. These include ISO files, disc media, USB flash drives, and recovery partitions. There is also a rollback mode that enables the user to restore the guest machine to a clean state. A user can also customize the settings of each virtual machine. These include the processor, RAM, storage, and network.
3. Strong Compatibility and High Integration
It can be used on Mac computers that are either based on Intel Core processors or the Apple M Series systems-on-chips. It is the most stable software hypervisor for ARM-based Windows. There is also tight integration with macOS. It supports drag-and-drop and copy-paste actions between the host machine and guest virtualized machine, keyboard shortcuts, and Touch ID. Coherence mode allows Windows apps to run alongside macOS apps.
4. Key Security and Safety Controls and Features
Another advantage of Parallels Desktop for Mac is its slate of features and controls. Access Control provides users with permission control over sensitive files on macOS. This software hypervisor also enables users to encrypt their virtualized operating systems with a password using the AES-256 encryption algorithm. SSO/SAML authentication simplifies the deployment of virtual machines across the fleet of Mac computers of organizations.
Cons of Parallels Desktop for Mac: Disadvantages and Main Issues
1. Demanding Hardware and System Requirements
The performance of this software hypervisor is dependent on the capabilities of a particular Mac computer. It requires 4GB of RAM and at least 16GB of free storage space depending on the virtualized operating system. Mac computers are known to have a higher price point at higher specifications. An older Mac with outdated hardware might have a hard time running virtual machines. Purchasing a separate computer might be the better option.
2. Software and Hardware Compatibility Issues
Another disadvantage of Parallels Desktop for Mac is that it is not 100 percent compatible with all software and hardware. Running Windows on an ARM-based and M-based Mac does not guarantee full support for all Windows apps. The Intel-based Mac computers are the most reliable for virtualization. It is also possible for some users to encounter hardware or driver compatibility issues. It also does not support older Windows releases and Linux distributions.
3. High Overall Costs From Software Licensing
This software hypervisor is expensive. The Standard Edition costs USD 99.00 per year while the Pro Edition costs USD 119.99 per year. There is an option for a cheaper one-time payment but these versions do not guarantee support for newer software versions and the latest updates to operating systems. The costs increase when purchasing a Windows license. VMware Fusion and VirtualBox have free versions that are ideal for average use cases.
4. Less Ideal for Enterprise Applications or Use Cases
It is also important to underscore the fact that it is less enterprise-friendly than VMware Fusion. This alternative has a solid reputation for providing virtualization solutions for enterprise users. It offers comprehensive customer support and technical assistance through phone calls, email, and chat. VMware Fusion also has more advanced features. These include more capable network simulation, virtual network editor, remote access, and snapshot manager.
Verdict: Advantages and Disadvantages of Parallels Desktop for Mac
The faster and more reliable performance compared to alternative software hypervisors and strong support for Apple M chips are two of the main advantages of Parallels Desktop for Mac. This makes it the most ideal option for power users such as PC gamers, content creators, and software developers who need operating systems outside macOS. Most of the aforementioned disadvantages are also present in other software hypervisors. However, for enterprise use cases, it is important to note that it is less ideal. VMware Fusion is a better machine virtualization solution for enterprise users because of its dedicated customer and technical support and more advanced customization and control features.