The benefits of virtual machines for your business

The benefits of virtual machines for your business

As a business owner, you’ve probably run into a million issues with your computers, such as malware, cyberattacks, and slow internet connections, among others. But have you ever needed to run an application on all of your computers, only to realize that it’s not made for your current system? If this is what you’re going through, virtual machines (VMs) might be for you.

But what is a VM in the first place? A VM is a program that emulates a different operating system (OS) environment together with dedicated hardware, all as software running on your computer. This makes it possible to run other OSes such as macOS or Linux on a Windows PC.

The many uses of VMs

Originally, VMs were used by software developers to test out applications within operating systems and hardware environments without needing to purchase extra peripherals. However, VMs do more than just that.

Rather than having one physical machine (such as a desktop) carry out a single role, virtualization makes it possible to divide the machine into many virtual desktops, storage systems, and other network machines. Additionally, snapshots of VMs can be taken. That is, its state during a certain point in time can be saved into a file called an image. So in case the OS you’re using crashes, you can use the image to reset your VM and bring it back to a previous stable state. This makes VMs great data backup and disaster recovery options.

Another notable benefit is the ability to run a different OS on incompatible hardware. Let’s say you have a Windows PC but wish to use some of the features only available on macOS. A VM can fire up Apple’s desktop OS and allow you to use its applications without the need to purchase extra hardware. Also, if there’s a piece of software that you need, but isn’t compatible anymore with modern operating systems, you can try to run it in a virtual machine with a compatible OS.

For small businesses that don’t have enough computers for their employees, virtual machines are a practical solution. You can personalize desktops for each user, and these can be run on any computer within your network. Applications needed by the user can also be easily installed.

There are also cloud-based solutions available such as Azure Virtual Machines. Unlike regular VMs that are typically hosted on weak machines, Azure Virtual Machines get power from Microsoft’s many powerful servers.

How to start your first virtual machine

If your PCs are running Windows 10, you can take advantage of its Hyper-V feature. Turn it on by typing “Windows Features” into the Start Menu, then clicking on Turn Windows features on and off. Tick the box beside “Hyper-V” and reboot your computer.

Once installed, you can create your first virtual machine by opening the Hyper-V Quick Create application. Choose your desired OS. Although the virtual machine app is free, remember that you still have to pay for the full price of the OS if you don’t own a license for it yet.

Hyper-V supports Windows XP and above and various Linux-based operating systems like Ubuntu and Debian, so your options aren’t limited. If that’s not enough, Oracle’s VirtualBox supports other operating systems such as Solaris and Unix-based systems, among many other options.

After you’ve created your VM, you can now run legacy applications that aren’t compatible with your current system. This is also useful for when you need to update the firmware on very specialized and proprietary systems that don’t support current operating systems. Virtual machines are also handy when migrating data from old applications to newer systems.

No matter how small your business is, by harnessing the power of virtualization, you can take advantage of its many benefits that help bolster productivity and efficiency. As long as computing resources are used systematically, using virtual machines can be a significant key to your success.

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