Running a virtual machine is a great way to try out a new operating system or to test an application without affecting the host OS. However, sometimes the program you are using to do so may not be running the virtual machine up to par.
This could be due to your physical system’s hardware capabilities (or lack thereof), but it is not out of the question that it may be the program running your virtual machine that is running slow. This article will cover a few reasons that your virtual machine may be slugging along as well as a few key tips to go about speeding up your virtual machine.
1. Restart Your PC
Before we get too deep into the nitty gritty, give your PC a restart if you have not already. It is an often-overlooked but useful step to iron out the wrinkles.
2. Keep Your Virtualization Software Up to Date
These updates over time will squash bugs and handle your physical machine’s RAM and processing power far better than before.
3. Adjust Dedicated RAM and Add Software Acceleration
If too much memory is handed over, your physical PC may not have enough RAM left over to complete its regular tasks. Likewise, if too little is given to your virtual machine, it may have a hard time doing as much as loading a web browser. There is a healthy medium, and what this is will vary based on your physical PC’s specifications. A good rule of thumb is to provide your virtual machine with 1GB of RAM per 4GB of RAM on your physical PC. This is not a solve-all rule, but it is something to consider if you are new to configuring a virtual machine.
In addition to adding more memory, you can also add more CPUs and or enable hardware virtualization and/or acceleration through your virtual machine’s hosting software.
4. Defragment Your Host’s Hard Disk (Windows Only)
Take a bit of time to defragment your disk – it does wonders. For those unaware, defragging a hard drive is simply the act of placing blocks of data closer together so that data can be read by the machine more quickly. You will notice load times decrease significantly, not only across your virtual machine, but on your physical machine as well.
5. Reduce the Virtual Machine’s Disk Size
Processes can tremendously slow down if your virtual machine is hogging too much storage. For VirtualBox users, you can follow the instructions here to reduce the VM disk size.
6. Turn Off Windows Defender on Virtual Machine (Windows Only)
As long as you aren’t using your virtual machine permanently or to test sketchy or otherwise suspicious programs, you may wish to disable preinstalled antivirus. Antivirus will use extra CPU and RAM resources that, while necessary on a PC, are not so crucial on a virtual machine. Again, choosing to disable antivirus will vary based on user preference.
7. Disable Background Tasks on Virtual Machine
Your virtual machine will run a lot smoother if less processes are hogging up the RAM and the hard drive’s reading and writing. Consider closing out of anything that is not mission critical for the task at hand.
8. Use Your Solid State Drive
If you typically place all of your programs on your SSD so that they launch more quickly, do the same with your entire virtual machine configuration. This singlehandedly will be, perhaps, the biggest speed increase available.
9. Switch Hosting Software Altogether
There are several virtualization software out there, often for free, that allow you to create and run virtual machine. Some can be more lightweight (like VirtualBox) than others, so give Google a spin and find one that work best for the intended operating system of your virtual machine and the hardware of your physical machine.
10. Switch Up Hardware or Get a New PC
If your PC is ancient or decent specs are next to nonexistent, you will need to acquire new hardware entirely. A good way to see your processing power and PC’s workload on Windows is to press “Ctrl + Alt + Delete” on your keyboard, and then select “Task Manager.” For Mac, simply press “Command + Space” on your keyboard, type “Activity Monitor,” and press Return on your keyboard.
Speeding up the processes of a virtual machine will always be an ongoing endeavor. However, with consideration of the aforementioned tips, you will be able to get a good start at speeding up your virtual machine and workflow.
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