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Head to head comparison VMware vs VirtualBox

Today, virtualization has gained popularity and is widely used for software and operating system testing. Users from every field to skilled developers leveraging the benefits of virtualization. If you are using server virtualization, you can run various operating systems on the same physical resources, reducing the need for physical dedicated servers.

General Vmware Tutorials Jul 19, 21 by Nisal N 11 min Read
Head to head comparison VMware vs VirtualBox

Using the hypervisor, you can easily create a virtualization layer abstracting the guest machines and other operating systems. It results in the emulation of the resources so that the guest machine feels like they are consuming the physical resources without knowing that the host OS and VM are using the same resources.

We have come across two types of hypervisors- first is type 1 that is the bare metal hypervisor that can be effortlessly installed on the physical server you want and the second is Type 2 are the hosted hypervisors that can be easily installed on the top of the host operating system.

If you are running a large and complex production environment, then type 1 is more suitable while you can use the type 2 hosted hypervisors for running VMs on a personal system. Virtualbox and VMware are the two widely and commonly used type 2 hypervisors available in the market.

In this article, we will focus on these two- VMware and Virtualbox hypervisors, their pros and cons, and differences between them.

What is a VirtualBox?

Virtualbox is one of the virtualization software offered by Oracle. You can use it for free, and is available as an open-source, and is distributed under the GNU general public license version 2. With this software, you will be able to run virtual machines on the host operating machine. 

Apart from that, you will be able to create a connection between the virtual machines and the host. Virtualbox comes with the support for various operating systems like Linux, Windows, Mac OS, and Oracle Solaris. In 2010, a VirtualBox extension was introduced by Oracle. It is a closed-source complementary package offering a wide range of features. It comes with support for USB2/USB3 and RPD.

Benefits of using Virtualbox

Below are the benefits of using Virtualbox.

  • It provides easy and effortless integration between the host machine and the VM windows.
  • It comes with support for various operating systems.
  • It provides the dynamic size for the virtual hard drive space.
  • It comes with an efficient peripheral integration.
  • It offers you dynamic display resizing along with the changing window size.

Limitation of Virtualbox

Below are the limitations that you may face while using Virtualbox.

  • It provides an outdated user interface.
  • Users need to download and provide the ISO themselves rather than the process should be automated for the open-source operating systems. 
  • You could automate the process of installing the guest additions to the virtual machines using a single sign-on.
  • It does not provide easy documentation for every feature.
  • There is no facility for implementing common tasks to all the VMs at once.

What is VMware?

VMware is a virtual machine software offering a wide range of virtualization products. You can use VMware for managing and creating virtual machines. It enables you for running multiple copies of the same OS or several different OS on x86-based machines. For Windows and Linux hosts, you can install this virtualization software for free. For enjoying more advanced features and to use for large projects, you can use its Workstation Pro version.

Benefits of using VMware

Below are some benefits that you can enjoy using VMware.

  • It comes with solid and active community support for resolving all your issues.
  • It provides you with an advanced feature for seamless working.
  • You do not require security patches for controlling the components of the layer.
  • It provides you with all AWS applications for various uses.
  • There is no need for an external operating system for managing the components.

Limitations of VMware

Below are some limitations you may face using VMware.

  • It has a steep learning curve, making it difficult to learn and understand at first.
  • You can only use its limited feature sets with its free version.
  • If you want to run some complex devices, it will slow down the initialization process.
  • If you by any chance use the corrupt external code, it may lead to a server crash and you may face downtime.

VirtualBox Vs. VMware: Comparison Table

Below is the tabular difference between VMware and Virtualbox based on some categories, making it easier for you to decide which one you want to opt for in your environment.

Comparison

VirtualBox

VMware

Software Virtualization

Available 

Not Available 

Hardware Virtualization

Available 

Available 

Available Host Operating Systems

Linux, Windows, Solaris, macOS, FreeBSD

Linux, Windows + macOS (with  VMware Fusion)

Available Guest Operating Systems

Available for OSs like Linux, Windows, Solaris, macOS, FreeBSD

Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD + macOS (along with VMware Fusion)

Available User Interface

Graphical User Interface and Command Line Interface 

Graphical User Interface and Command Line Interface

Snapshots

Available 

Available only for paid virtualization products, excluding VMware Workstation Player

Available Virtual Disk Format

Available in VDI, VMDK, VHD, HDD

VMDK

Available Virtual Disk Allocation Type

Available in Preallocated-fixed disks; dynamically allocated disks;

Available in Pre-allocated provisioned disks and Dynamically allocated thin-provisioned disks;

Provided USB Devices Support

USB 2.0/3.0 support needs the Extension Pack (free)

support for USB device 

API for Developers

Requires API and SDK

Supports Different APIs and SDKs

Cost and Licenses

Available for free, under the GNU General Public License

VMware Workstation Player is free, but other VMware products require a paid license

Differences between VMware and Virtualbox

We have mentioned some differences based on various aspects and depending on the features they offer.

Software and Hardware Virtualization

Software virtualization is available for Virtual box but not for VMware. Software virtualization is important because it helps in emulating the computer system and allows running the guest on top of it. Using the software virtualization, you will be able to run virtual machines with different platforms than the host. But somehow it leads to slow performance of the virtual machine as compared to the hardware virtualization.

Both Virtualbox and VMware support hardware virtualization. Using this, you will be able to emulate the hardware devices from the respective host. It allows you to run the code directly on the hardware, which will enhance the VM performance. For hardware virtualization, you will be required to use the Intel VT-x or AMD-V CPU features. Also, you will be able to run guests that will use the same platform as the host.

Operating Systems

One of the major deciding factors is the host operating system. Virtualbox shows support for a wide range of OS but it is not the case with VMware. Virtualbox can be efficiently run on various operating systems like Linux, Windows, Solaris, macOS, and FreeBSD. While you can run VMware Player and VMware Workstation work only on Linux and Windows. 

Both virtualizations offer the support of the most guest operating systems, which will include the OS like Linux, Windows, Solaris, macOS, and FreeBSD. The main difference between both virtualizations is that VMware needs VMware Fusion/Fusion Pro to be run on macOS virtual machines.

User Interface (UI)

With Virtualbox, you will be able to use both GUI and CLI (VBoxManage). The CLI helps you in managing the virtual machines using the host command line, providing a wide range of features and tools.

VMware comes with the facility of both a graphical user interface and a command line. The VMware Workstation offers you more UI features that are available for VMware Player GUI.

Snapshots

Snapshots help in storing the actual image of the virtual machine at any instant of time, allowing you to provide a backup for any failure. It helps you to roll back the complete system to that state without impacting the other running applications. You are allowed to take as many images of the virtual machine in various VM states. But if you keep on taking snapshots it will slow down the performance of your virtual machine.

With VirtualBox, you will be able to take snapshots for free, while VMware allows this on its paid virtualization products.

Virtual Network Modes

You can work in any of the network nodes as per your choice. For this, you need the configuration of each networking adapter for your VM separately. 

USB devises Support

For a USB connection to a guest machine, you can simply attach it to the host. Both VMware and Virtualbox come with support for USB devices.

VirtualBox comes with the support for USB 1.0, requiring the installation of the VirtualBox Extension Pack for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

While with VMware, you can only use up to 2 USB devices and have the USB port enabled by default. 

Integrations

In addition to the support for various virtual disk formats (VMDK, VHD, HDD, etc), Virtualbox also provides you access to many integration tools like Docker, Vagrant, etc. 

While VMware does not show support for such a wide range of virtual disk formats. You need a conversion utility for running formats that are different from VMware's VMDK.

Common features of VirtualBox and VMWare

Below are some common grounds for both Virtualbox and VMware.

  • They both support the shared folders, requiring a bit of set-up. This allows you to mount a folder on the host as a network share for the guest. It allows both of them to share the data between them.
  • Apart from the shared folders, it allows you to drag and drop the files between the host and the guest. You can even copy the file to the clipboard on one system and paste it to another system.
  • The Virtualbox’s seamless mode and VMware’s utility mode allows you to pull windows out of the guest and move it onto the host. It helps in interacting with both the OS at the same time. 
  • Both use encrypted virtual machines, preventing unauthorized access to VMs.

Conclusion

Looking at the features and functionalities of both VMware and Virtualbox, it might be a difficult choice for every user. But you have to sort out your priorities based on every aspect and make a choice that suits better for your company. You can even consider their price plans, it will help you to restrict to one option. 

You might go for VirtualBox, if you want to move virtual machines between hosts or if you want to support open-source software.

You can go for VMware if your main focus is stability and if you are using an older machine where performance optimization matters, or if you are ready to pay for the Pro version.

author img

Nisal N

Computers has always fascinated me since I was a kid and here we are. I love travelling for 2 reasons: the first one to see a new part of the world and second (the most important one) to experience the rich culture hidden among the country and people. I'm pretty good at cooking but very poor when it comes to baking.

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