VirtualBox or Oracle VM VirtualBox is a free and open-source virtual machine manager and monitor or software hypervisor available across different desktop operating systems. These include Windows from Microsoft, macOS from Apple, Linux distributions such as Debian and Ubuntu, and Unix variants such as Solaris. It is also a popular hypervisor for Mac users and has been regarded as the best alternative to VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for those who do not want to purchase a software license and need to run another operating system on a macOS. This article lists and discusses the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of VirtualBox for Mac.
Pros of VirtualBox for Mac: Advantages and Notable Features
1. Free and Open-Source Software
One of the main advantages of VirtualBox is that it provides Mac users with a free operating system virtualization solution. Parallels Desktop is available via either a paid subscription or a single purchase license. VMware Fusion is also available via a paid subscription or as a free version but with limited features. It is also an open-source software hypervisor that allows users to run experiments and explore its development further without restriction.
2. Flexible Customization Options
This software hypervisor also offers several customization options for each virtual machine or virtualized operating system. These include processor core configuration, memory and storage allocation, network settings, and creating snapshots and clones. These customization options or customizable configurations provide users with better control over their virtual machines and the native hardware features and capabilities of their host Mac computers.
3. Isolation and Testing Features
Another notable advantage of VirtualBox is that it keeps the virtualized operating system isolated from the host macOS operating system. This enables users to run experimental software or test configuration settings without risking their Mac computers. A user can also create a dedicated and controlled environment or development sandbox for specific projects. There is also an option to delete outmoded virtual machines or restore ones in case of system errors.
4. Wide Operating System Support
The point of using a software hypervisor on a Mac device is for a user to be able to run another operating system. This lessens the need to purchase another computer. Oracle VM VirtualBox is ideal for running emulated or virtualized versions of operating systems such as Windows and Linux. It has native support for Mac computers that run on Intel Core processors and it now has an updated version that supports ARM-based M-based Mac computers.
Cons of VirtualBox for Mac: Disadvantages and Main Issues
1. Slower Relative Performance
The biggest disadvantage of VirtualBox for Mac is that it can exhibit slower performance when compared to VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop. This is more noticeable in underpowered and older models of Mac computers with lesser capable processors and outmoded hardware components or when running resource-demanding PC games and applications such as video editing software on a virtualized Windows operating system.
2. Important Hardware Limitations
Maximizing the best out of this hypervisor would require capable hardware components. It tends to draw more processing resources and consume more RAM than its counterparts. There are also limited graphical capabilities due to the absence of support for the latest DirectX and OpenGL versions. It lacks native support for USB 2.0 and P2P networking and requires its users to install the Extension Pack. This extension is not free for enterprise users.
3. Poorer Mac Optimization Issues
Another disadvantage of VirtualBox is its less seamless Mac integration. Sharing files or folders between the host operating system and the guest operating system through drag-and-drop or via the copy-paste clipboard is not as efficient compared to its counterparts. Running guest macOS is also unsupported by Apple and requires some hardware tinkering. This hypervisor now works for M-powered Mac computers but there are still noticeable performance issues.
4. More Complicated User Interface
The user interface and user experience of this hypervisor are not as clean and straightforward as VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop. Most of its features might require technical expertise. These include creating snapshots and clones, exporting and importing virtual machines, and customizing network settings. It can also fail to install or load properly on M-powered Mac computers due to the security restrictions in newer macOS versions.
Rundown: Advantages and Disadvantages of VirtualBox for Mac
VirtualBox or Oracle VM VirtualBox is an ideal software hypervisor for Mac users who want to run emulated or virtualized operating systems within macOS. This is free software that can be downloaded online. It is suitable for users who want to run less demanding applications that are only available to a particular desktop operating system or are in need of a virtualized environment for testing software programs. However, because of its disadvantages, VirtualBox is not suitable for resource-demanding tasks such as running graphics-intensive PC games and video editing applications. It is also important to reiterate the fact that it does not perform well in older models of Mac computers and also has performance issues in newer M-based models of Mac.