This is how you set up a virtual machine with Windows 10

Do you often install new programs that you then remove? There is a good chance that quite a bit of residue will remain on your computer. Time for a virtual machine: you install a second Windows on the same computer, which you can use to 'pollute' and experiment with without any problems. To work!

Tip 01: Just virtualize!

Traditionally, virtual machines were mainly used in business and technical environments. Due to the considerable improvement of hardware (read: computing power) in recent years, it has also been an interesting way of working for home use for some time now. The principle is relatively simple: with a virtual machine you can install an operating system 'inside' your current operating system. The major difference here is that the new operating system operates in a defined environment. The operating system therefore has no influence on the rest of the system, and runs in a 'sandbox' environment.

This offers you various advantages, for example you can now conduct experiments undisturbed in the virtual machine. For example, you install software to try it out, without that software affecting the rest of your PC. You can also make changes to the Windows registry in the virtual machine while you are not yet sure about the result. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you can restore the virtual machine to a point in the past or simply 'throw it away' and start again with a clean slate.

Tip 02: VM VirtualBox

There are several programs that allow you to create a virtual machine. We choose Oracle's VM VirtualBox: it is a complete package with the functions we need, which can also be used for free in home situations. The latest version of VirtualBox is available at www.virtualbox.org. You can run VirtualBox in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, among others. After installation, start the program. In the left part of the window you see an overview of installed virtual machines: the overview is of course still empty the first time.

The right part of the window will soon contain the details of the virtual machine. VirtualBox supports several modes to get started. This way you can create an empty virtual machine and then install the desired operating system. If you don't have patience or you go for convenience, you can download a running virtual machine and import it into VirtualBox. The advantage of this is that you can get started right away.

System requirements

A virtual machine places the necessary demands on your computer. Not so strange: after all, you install an 'extra computer' within your own computer. In order to work smoothly with a virtual machine, your computer must have at least 8 GB of RAM. The more the better.

Tip 03: Ready-made

VirtualBox alone is of little use. You also need the operating system itself running within the virtual machine. There are various options for this. For example, you can use a license of Windows that is not yet being used, and install Windows with that license key within the virtual machine. Chances are, however, that you don't have this. Microsoft offers several Windows versions available online, which are valid for 90 days. You do not need to purchase an additional license.

The latest versions of Windows are available at developer.microsoft.com. Bee Virtual Machine do you choose MSedge on Win10 (x64) Stable. Then choose Select platform for VirtualBox. Pay extra attention to the password, which you will also find on the website. You need this to log in to the Windows virtual computer. At the time of writing, the password for these off-the-shelf machines is 'Passw0rd!'. The ready-made virtual machine is about 7 GB in size.

Within the virtual machine you use a full Windows installation

Tip 04: Install yourself

In the previous tip, you downloaded a ready-made virtual machine from Windows. You can also install a version of Windows yourself instead. Keep in mind that you have to purchase a separate license for Windows for this: after all, it counts as a full installation. Press the button Download utility now. This will bring in a wizard that will help you download the installation file. You can also use an ISO file or Windows installation DVD that you already own.

Look into the future

The nice thing about virtual machines is the ability to try things out without compromising the Windows environment you depend on every day. This also makes a virtual machine ideal for previewing future Windows versions, which are still in development and therefore less stable. You can download installation files of Windows 10 Insider versions from Microsoft's site. You must first sign up as a Windows Insider to do this. Installation is the same as with a standard version of Windows.

Tip 05: Import

If you have downloaded a ready-made virtual machine, you can easily open it in VirtualBox. First, extract the downloaded file on your regular system (not within VirtualBox): open File Explorer, navigate to the folder where the file is stored and right-click on the zip file. Choose Unpack everything. After the file is extracted, open VirtualBox. In the main VirtualBox window, choose Import File / Appliance. Now browse to the previously downloaded file of the virtual machine and select it. click on Next one.

Based on the file, VirtualBox itself determines which settings are the most optimal. For example, VirtualBox suggests the amount of internal memory (ram) required by the virtual machine. We use the standard suggestions and agree to them. Press the button Import. This will take some time, depending on the size of the virtual machine. After importing, the virtual machine is added to the main VirtualBox window. You will find the entry on the left side of the window. Click once on the virtual machine to view the details in the right pane.

Tip 06: Install yourself

Are you not using a ready-made virtual machine, but have you downloaded or ready a Windows installation file? In the main VirtualBox window, click the button New. Give the virtual machine a name Name and Operating System. Select the correct operating system at Type (for example Microsoft Windows) and indicate the version (for example Windows 10). Based on this, VirtualBox selects some default settings, such as the amount of internal memory reserved. Decide for yourself whether this is sufficient: the more internal memory, the smoother the virtual machine runs.

Choose at Hard Drive in front of Create a new virtual hard drive and click Create. Then indicate where the file of the virtual machine should be stored and how much space you reserve. We recommend using twice the recommended size: for example 32 GB for Windows 10 Hard drive file type we agree with the choice made by VirtualBox. Bee Storage on physical hard drive do we choose Dynamically allocated. After the wizard you can start the virtual machine. click on Start. When prompted, browse to the Windows iso installation file. You can now install Windows in the virtual machine.

Tip 07: Start

From now on, it no longer matters how you installed the operating system in the virtual machine. Just like a real computer, the virtual machine must be started. Once you have clicked on the virtual machine in the VirtualBox window, some buttons will be shown at the top right. click on Start. A new window will open and the virtual machine will load. The login window appears. After logging in, you can get started with the virtual machine. To work with the virtual machine even more pleasantly, we install the Guest Additions. These are specific drivers and add-ons for the virtual machine that make the system run smoother. Choose Devices / Insert Guest Additions CD Image.

Tip 08: Cut and paste

It is possible to cut and paste information between the virtual machine and the host computer (read: the computer on which you run the virtual machine). This is useful, for example if you want to work in the virtual machine on a document that is stored on the host computer. Or when you want to copy a web address from the host computer to the virtual machine. There are several ways to exchange information between the two computers. In the VirtualBox window, choose Devices / drag and drop. Drag and drop is disabled by default, now choose Bidirectional. This ensures that you can drag objects (such as a file) from the window of the virtual machine to, for example, the local desktop and vice versa. If you prefer to limit the drag-and-drop to one direction (for example, from the host computer to the virtual machine, but not the other way around), choose the appropriate setting (Host to guest or Guest to host).

VirtualBox Guest Additions make the virtual machine run smoother

Tip 09: Shared Folders

We use shared folders to exchange files in a more structured way. These folders are accessible to both the host computer and the guest (the virtual machine) and are therefore ideal for exchanging files between the two systems. In the virtual machine window, choose Devices / Shared Folders / Shared Folder Settings. A new window will open. Press the button Add Shared Folder, recognizable by the plus icon. Then specify the path to the shared folder and give the folder a name. If nothing can be changed in the folder, place a check next to Read only. Also activate the option Auto pairing: Makes the folder always available at virtual machine startup. Confirm with a click on OK. The folder appears in the list. The folder is then available in the virtual machine via, for example, Explorer (Windows key+E). Click on This PC and view the list at Network locations.

cloud folders

To quickly exchange files between the virtual machine and the host computer, you can also use a cloud service, such as Dropbox or OneDrive. The latter service is standard built into Windows 10 and relatively easily accessible via Explorer. Once you've signed in to the virtual machine with OneDrive and put files in the OneDrive folder, they'll be available on the other computers with OneDrive (including the host computer). A cloud folder is therefore a good alternative to the shared folders of VirtualBox.

With a snapshot you can use Windows virtually for much longer than 90 days for free

Tip 10: Take a snapshot

You can take a snapshot of the virtual machine. The system is recorded as it is at that moment, also called a snapshot. A snapshot allows you to restore the virtual machine's state to that point. If you have not done a fresh installation of Windows 10 but are using a ready-made version, we definitely recommend taking a snapshot. We already wrote that such a ready-to-use version is valid for 90 days. By taking a snapshot immediately after the first startup of the virtual machine, you can easily return to the previous point after 90 days and use the virtual machine 'again'.

A snapshot also comes in handy if you're about to install a program in the virtual machine, and want to try it out without risk. In the virtual machine window, choose Machine / Take snapshot. Provide the snapshot with an appropriate name and short description (e.g. 'Snapshot taken immediately after installation on August 1, 2020). click on OK. To return to the snapshot later, in the main VirtualBox window, click the menu button (recognizable by the three dots) of the selected virtual machine. Choose Snapshots. An overview of snapshots taken appears. Select the desired snapshot and click To recover.

Tip 11: Display Settings

The way the virtual machine is displayed strongly determines the user experience. For example, if you choose to run the virtual machine in a window, you can quickly switch between the host and guest computer. If, on the other hand, you choose to display the virtual machine full screen, the impression of a virtual environment disappears. The display settings are housed in the menu To display. The option Full screen mode causes the virtual machine to be displayed without any window borders. Via the option Seamless mode you can 'hide' the virtual machine's window and only show the virtual machine's programs. They then appear in the environment of the host computer, making it appear as if the programs are running on the local computer. This mode is especially nice if you want to run a specific program in the virtual machine, but otherwise don't need the virtual machine. The Scaled Mode adapts to the size of the window. If you enlarge the window, you enlarge the desktop of the virtual machine with you.

Always turn off the virtual machine before opening the settings

Tip 12: Settings

You can access the settings of the virtual machines via the main VirtualBox window. However, much of the settings can only be changed when the virtual machine is idle. So make sure to shut down the virtual machine first. After that, in the VirtualBox window, select the virtual machine and click the button Institutions. The window is made up of two parts. In the left part of the window you will see the categories, including System, Display and audio. Click on a category to display its settings on the right. Many of the categories also use sub-tabs with additional options. This is how you find at System additional tabs with motherboard, processor, and acceleration options. If the virtual machine is running slowly, you can System / Motherboard adjust the amount of memory allocated.

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