Must Have Application - VMware Workstation

VMware Workstation is a Must Have Application that is part of our series on virtualization. Find out why this program is an excellent solution for working with virtual machines.
Published: Oct 9, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows
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VMware Workstation 5.5
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VMware Workstation

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

Part of the editorial series on virtualization.

VMware Workstation is a perfect tool for software developers and IT professionals. In my opinion, it's also the perfect tool for many home users. Let me give a few examples.

VMware Mistake-Proofs Your "Computer"

In the course of using a computer we all make mistakes. Yes, that's right even I make silly mistakes. We erase files we don't mean to erase,we install programs that goof things up, we accidentally dosomething that messes up our computer. Trust me, I'm an expert on this topic. There have been a number of times when I've messed things up so bad that I either had to reinstall Windows or reformat the hard disk and then reinstall Windows.

In testing over 200 software products each and every week I've had times when some program I installed totally messed up my computer and I'd spend hours trying to fix it. At least I have an advantage over many newer users because I have an idea of how to fix the problem. WithVMware Workstation you don't need to be an expert you just need to be able to click your mouse a few times.

A Look At VMware Workstation

VMware Workstation is a powerful desktop tool that lets you create "virtual machines". These "machines" have memory, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, and much more. You can install your software on them, save your files on them, and even back them up. You can create"snapshots" at any point and then revert back to those spots. If I had a virtual machine running on my desktop in full-screen mode, you would not be able to tell.

The screen shot is small, but look at it closely. On the left you see a listing of some of my virtual machines. Several use Windows XP, one uses the beta version of Windows Vista, and there are a couple of versions of Linux. If you look to the right, you see part of a desktop. That is a full blown computer, complete with two hard drives, two DVD drives, and a full range of software. Email, FTP, news readers, download managers,text editors, and lots more. It's also part of my network.

If I make a mistake on this virtual machine all I have to do is go back to the last "snapshot" and the problem is fixed. If I erased one file or formatted the virtual hard drive, it doesn't matter.This makes it perfect for me when I test software. If I install something that goofs up my "computer" I just click a couple times and it's good as new. Have children? How many times have your kids goofed up the computer by downloading things? With VMware Workstation you can create multiple "virtual computers" and you can install programs on each one you create. Have one "computer" for your 7 year old and another for your 15 year old. You can take "snapshots" of the virtual computer at any stage and then go back to a particular stage anytime you want.Your kids can download things and if they download something bad you can fix it in a few mouse clicks.

With VMware Workstation you can run multiple operating systems on one computer and at the same time! No rebooting, no formatting.The performance is excellent and so good that I often forget I'm working in a "virtual machine." Each time you get a new computer you have to install all of your stuff on it. Email, newsreader, music, text editor, documents, and so on. Ah, but if you create a basic virtual machine with all these things in it, you could easily setup multiple machines in 30 minutes. I have friends, for example, who work exclusively in "virtual machines." They develop software products and handle their business using VMware Workstation. When they buy a new laptop, simply copy the VMware files to the new machine and they are back at work without missing a beat.

You can synchronize the data in a virtual machine with the data on your real computer. So, for example, I can keep my email program in a virtual machine totally in sync with the email on my physical computer. Get a new computer and all you have to do is put the FREE VMware Player on it, copy over the files for your basic machine and viola! You're ready to roll.

VMware Workstation Benefits

Many people think VMware Workstation is a product for businesses, and it is, but I believe this technology can be a real benefit to home users. Software developers can use VMware Workstation to:

  • Develop software under different operating systems
  • Test software under those same operating systems
  • Create specific test environments for product testing
  • Reduce their hardware costs
  • And more!

So, VMware Workstation can be a huge benefit to software developers. They can test their latest product under every version of Windows and do it all on one physical computer. A huge savings in equipment cost and time.

In the area of IT, VMware Workstation also brings huge benefits such as the ability to configure and test virtual machines easily.Virtual machines can also be used to test multi-tier applications to make sure there are no problems before they are deployed.

In areas like education VMware Workstation can make it easy to deploy specific software for students. Create a virtual machine once and the "clone" it for other computers. VMware can also reduce the number of computers needed and it can be configured to undo any changes when the virtual machine is shut down. For those who have to set-up the school computers it means less time to get every machine up and running.

Summing It Up!

VMware Workstation, by VMware Corporation, is a powerful tool that has applications in software development, IT, education, and at home. The release of the free VMware Player means nearly everyone can run a virtual machine that they download from the VMware site. This is simply amazing technology and it offers so much potential for businesses, homes, students, teachers, doctors offices, and more.Virtual machines can be used to test things, rapidly deploy new computers, and much more. For all these reasons and more, I've foundVMware Workstation to be a "Must Have Application" and I've awarded it the "Editors Choice"award for excellence. Give it a try for yourself. It has my highest recommendation.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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