Tell Me About... Working With Virtual Machines

Personal experience working with virtual machines both part-time and full time. Part of the editorial series on virtualization.
Published: Oct 5, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Related OS: Windows

Working With Virtual Machines

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

This question submitted by Andy Deville, Kathy Barker, Jack Johnson,Billy Lee, Sherry Voss, and numerous others

We're not quite half way through our editorial series onvirtualization and I've received many emails asking, "What'sit like working on a virtual machine?" So, to help you get a better feelfor virtualization I'll tell you.

Usually, when I'm busy working, I don't even think about it.It's very transparent. I've set up my virtual machines the same way that I'dnormally setup a regular machine. I've installed the same programs, thesame wallpaper, the same sounds, and so on. For the most part I run myvirtual machines in "full-screen" mode so visually it is mycomputer. I'm in a virtual machine right now as I write this article.When I save the file I'm saving it to "Drive D", which is avirtual drive in the virtual machine. The entire machine iscomposed of files that reside on the physical computers hard drive.

I first got interested in virtualization about two years ago. Atthat time I saw a virtual machine as a cool way for me to testsoftware without getting my real machine "dirty." I could test all kindsof programs and when the day was done I could simply revert to the last"snapshot." The machine was new again and ready for the next day.

Being the curious sort I couldn't stop with just testing software in avirtual machine. Next I started surfing the Web from within a virtualmachine. Think about it. Since a "virtual machine" is a totally separateentity, any "malware" I encountered while exploring the Internet wouldnot affect my physical computer.

In July of 2006, after talking with friends who worked from avirtualized system, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and trygoing totally virtual myself. All of the computers in my officeare now utilizing virtual machines. Even my wife's computer is virtual.With over a terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of storage, I keep all ofthe virtual machines backed up on a daily basis. All but one of mylaptops are also running virtual machines.

When I recently got a new computer I really noticed the difference. Iinstalled my virtualization software, copied my virtual machines filesonto the new computer, and I was back in business. My "computer" wasjust how I like it, my email was in place, my Favorites were in Firefoxand all was right with the world. Also, when I had to go on an emergencytrip, I simply copied my virtual machine to my laptop and I was good togo. No synchronizing files and folders, no forgetting to take a certainfile, it was simply my desktop virtual machine copied to mylaptop. Slick.

As I've mentioned before, I know that virtualizaton is targetedtowards businesses, but I see so much potential in thistechnology for home users. If you want to test the virtualwaters, you can get products from Microsoft, Parallels, or VMware. Iurge you to give it a try.

Current articles on virtualization and reviews of virtualizatonsoftware:

There will be reviews of virtualization software each Tuesday throughOctober. You can also download Microsoft's free virtualization software, Virtual PC 2004, from the Microsoft site.

I'd like to thank Andy Deville, Kathy Barker, Jack Johnson,Billy Lee, Sherry Voss, and numerous others for askingthis question.

If you have a question on any technology topic that you'd like someoneto tell you about you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

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.

Digg This
Please login to add your comment
Leave A Comment