Dual Boot vs. Virtual Machine: Which One Is Better for You?

Tracy King updated on Sep 14, 2022 to Knowledge Center

The operating system is the dedicated bridge that covers different software resources and system hardware and offers common computer program services. However, professionals may need to run different versions of the same or different operating systems on one computer. The common question faced by professionals at this stage is to select a one from dual boot vs. virtual machine. 

dual boot vs virtual machine

Both dual boot and virtual machine are different techniques to use the different operating systems on a single computer. It is easy to understand these two techniques in detail, followed by a quick dual boot vs. virtual machine analysis. The key advantages and disadvantages of both ensure that users can select one based on their immediate needs.

However, it is easy for the users to get confused when selecting a perfect technique. Hence, it is easy to go through the quick guide to select one out of the dual boot vs. virtual machine. 

What is Dual Boot?

Starting with the dual boot, it is crucial to understand its definition first. The dual boot allows the system to use two operating systems. Hence, a computer with two operating systems can go for the dual boot technique. It is ideal for the systems having:

  1. Making one system functional for different users.
  2. Determining the application's compatibility with the current computing application.
  3. Trying new operating systems easily on an existing device.

Some of the popular dual boot partition schemes include:

  1. Primary partition: The hard drive can have four partitions called primary partitions. It was a part of Microsoft's new partition table in the 1980s.
  2. Extended partition: It is a new type of partition used to extend the primary partitions. 
  3. Logical partition: These are the sub-partitions. These are way ahead of the extended partitions and allow much space for the users.

What is Virtual Machine?

After dual boot, it is about the virtual machine method. It is widely used in cloud environments and on-premises systems. It runs as a process in the application window like any other system application. The main files on the virtual machine include the configuration file, virtual disk file, NVRAM setting file, and log file. 

The two types of the virtual machine include:

  1. System virtual machine: It is completely virtualized for a physical machine. It relies on a hypervisor running on hardware on top of the operating system.
  2. Process virtual machine: It offers a platform-independent programming environment with a single process to run as an application on the main machine. It successfully masks the operating system or hardware information. 

Advantages and Disadvantages: Dual Boot vs. Virtual Machine (H2)

After individual definitions, it is easy to go through the key advantages and disadvantages to understand more about the dual boot vs. virtual machine. 

1. Advantages and disadvantages of dual boot

Advantages:

  • It allows access to the different system resources.
  • It shuts all other operating systems on the device and allows quick access to the active operating system.
  • It is ideal for extensive resource programs like video editing or gaming software.

Disadvantages:

  • It requires a restart to access the different operating systems on the device.
  • It is important to create a partition and install the operating system with a bootable drive which makes dual boot complicated. (You need to know how to make external hard drive bootable in advance)
  • Its setup can go quickly wrong.
  • It is not highly secure and may cause serious damage to the device's operating system.

2. Advantages and disadvantages of virtual machine

Advantages:

  • It allows quick access between the different operating systems.
  • It is easy to create multiple profiles and set up a virtual machine.
  • It doesn't cause any security issues to the device or existing operating systems.
  • It allows operating system transfer tools.

Disadvantages:

  • The operating system using a virtual machine doesn't have full access to the device hardware.
  • It doesn't support media production or heavy video games.

3.      Quick comparison of dual boot and virtual machine

Feature Dual boot Virtual machine
Security Not secure Highly secure
Access to device resources Complete Incomplete
Access to different operating systems Difficult Quick
Setup Difficult Easy
High-end applications-gaming, video editing, etc. Perfect Can't support high-end applications

Things to Consider in Dual Boot vs. Virtual Machine Decision

After a brief understanding of dual boot and virtual machine followed by a quick list of advantages and disadvantages, it is easy to understand both methods. However, quick aspects to consider before selecting a one out of dual boot vs. virtual machine make it easy for the professionals or beginners to make the decision.

So, the detailed guide to get the best solution for using multiple environments or operating systems are:

  1. 1. Security
  2. 2. Data Sharing
  3. 3. Time spent on the specific operating system
  4. 4. Setup
  5. 5. Availability of SSD or HDD

1. Security

Cyberattacks have been increasing over recent years, so it is important to consider the risk of infecting the operating system with malware. The dual boot machine method can cause a quick malware attack on the native operating system or hard disc. On the other hand, the virtual machine has no possible malware intrusion as all the installation and operation work in the sandboxed environment.

Regarding security, the virtual machine is the perfect solution over the dual boot machine technique.

2. Data sharing

Users may need to share and save different files in different operating systems. Dual boot may cause issues when it backup and restore data or files on the system with different environments. The virtual machine is ideal if the system requirement is to exchange large amounts of information between guests and native operating systems. The virtual machine is used to save guest operating system snapshots in a separate file and can restore the earlier working state of the operating system in events of errors. The dual boot technique may not allow seamless information exchange. 

Data sharing and file saving are ideal in virtual machine mode over the dual boot method.

3. Time spent on the specific operating system

Users spending a significant amount on a single operating system can use the dual boot technique. On the other hand, the virtual machine is ideal for multitasking as it allows a quick switch between different operating systems with a single click. 

The virtual machine technique is perfect if the user wants to spend less time on the specific operating system. Dual boot is the perfect method for users spending high techniques but compromising the restart time.

4. Setup

The installation makes a crucial part of any system. The dual boot installation uses a bootable device and helps create a partition. Hence, it requires additional care and is subjected to different errors. The virtual machine setup is easy, and you can seamlessly access different operating systems. 

It is easy to install the virtual machine over the dual boot method.

5. Availability of SSD or HDD

The system can use a Solid State Drive (SSD) or Hard Disk Drive (HDD). SSD leads the way when it comes to quick restart and quick shutdown. HDD may take five to ten minutes to restart or switch between different operating systems.

Devices having SSD can go for dual boot configuration due to quick performance. HDD users can prefer virtual machines for users switching from different operating systems. HDD users can go for the virtual machine, while SSD users can use the dual boot technique.

Final Verdict

Thus, it is easy to select the ideal technique from dual boot vs. virtual machine after going through their features, advantages, and disadvantages. A quick overview of the key aspects for deciding dual boot or virtual machine makes this decision-making strong and impactful.

Professionals looking to explore new items can go for virtual machines, while the average person looking to use two operating systems on one system permanently can go for dual booting. Dual booting is ideal for long-term high computational capacity, while the virtual machine is perfect for advanced security, portability, and ease of use. The final decision to select dual boot or virtual machine depends on specific use only.

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