VirtualBox and VMware are two of the most popular virtualization applications. Among them, they allow you to run virtual machines with the most popular operating systems from across the range of platforms. From all Linux distributions, to Android, Windows, and even macOS.
VirtualBox and VMware have a lot in common but also differences. Both have free and premium versions. In this article we will compare them, helping you decide which of the two is best for your needs. The comparison will be made mainly in the free versions of VirtualBox and VMware.
VirtualBox is distributed under the GNU General Public License and is free for everyone to use. Its expansion pack is also free for personal, training or evaluation use, but for commercial use requires a paid Enterprise license.
VMware Workstation Player is also free for non-commercial, personal and home use. Workstation Pro comes with a charge, but provides more advanced virtualization (Greek terminology = Virtualization).
Such a the VirtualBox as well as VMware offer the ability to create large and many virtual machines. The VirtualBox may have a lead at this point as well has a whole collection from ready-made presets of virtual machines (MacOS, Windows XP, various Linux constructions and so on). Obviously for licensed products such as Windows and MacOS, you need to get them legally to be fully functional.
VirtualBox has a feature that sets it apart from VMware Workstation Player, and these are the snapshots. These allow you to save a virtual machine at any time in a random location. You can then return to this exact point of operation whenever you want, or even transfer it to another system for use. You can also download an expansion pack which adds support for USB 2.0 and 3.0 devices, virtual disk encryption, etc.
In VMware Player, you will need to download specific drivers with the virtual machine to add USB 2 and 3 support, while some older operating systems, such as Windows Vista, will not allow this at all. VMware in its free version does not offer the option of running multiple virtual machines at the same time. you have to buy the Workstation Pro for this feature. The pro version of course comes with a host of other networking and security features that will be of great benefit to business users.
Overall, both VirtualBox and VMware make virtual machines very easy to operate. Both have useful features such as shared folders, drag-and-dropping between virtual machine and host windows, and shared data transfers.
In terms of performance, the gap really begins to widen between VirtualBox and VMware. Tests that have been posted on the internet from time to time have shown that VMware Player performs much faster than VirtualBox, which suffers from slowdowns and errors that become really visible if you start playing games or more demanding software.
The drag-and-drop feature, which is present in both VirtualBox and VMware Player, often does not work in VirtualBox and can cause the entire application to crash.
In general, the more powerful your computer is, the less obvious the performance issues of the VirtualBox are, as your computer can make up for its shortcomings. But not everyone has access to a high-end machine, so if you are basically looking for performance then the free version of VMware wins.
Both VirtualBox and VMware use a NAT interface to communicate with virtual machines and allow them to communicate with each other (assuming you are running more than one). But NAT setup is not as effective in VirtualBox because it relies on port forwarding.
VMware has an advantage here in that it uses the host adapter directly into the virtual machine's NAT virtual switch. This makes it much simpler and faster for all virtual machines to "see" the host on their networks.
For users who are just starting to learn virtualization or just want to try out applications on different operating systems, both VirtualBox and VMware do a good job. VMware is more stable and offers better graphics support, so it will work best if, for example, you want to play Android games on an Android virtual machine. VirtualBox, however, has a few more features that may be of interest to users who want to play on multiple virtual machines at the same time.
For larger businesses and business users however, paid versions of VMware such as vSphere and Workstation Pro, offer much more flexibility, such as networking and server virtualization. In other words, for business purposes, it pays to get the most advanced VMware products.