12 Best Virtual Machine (VM) Software in 2022

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
virtual-machine-software

Virtualization is a powerful tool in the IT and computing world that makes the work of IT professionals and programmers easier. Having the ability and flexibility to emulate different operating systems from one computer is critical for managing IT resources.

Virtual machines are an essential part of computing, especially cloud computing. The best virtual machine (VM) software, also known as a hypervisor, makes it easy to run different operating systems from a computer system. They allow you to run Windows OS on a Mac device, Linux on a Windows device, and other variations.

With virtual machines, you can run applications that your operating system would ordinarily struggle to run due to incompatible system requirements.

Virtual machine applications are witnessing increased adoption due to their simplicity and flexibility for testing apps in a secure environment.

In this article, you will learn about 12 of the best virtual machine (VM) software you can try out today.

Let’s get started.

Best Virtual Machine (VM) Software for Windows, Mac, and Linux

1. Virtualization Manager

Virtualization Manager is the Overall Best Virtual Machine Software with Comprehensive Feature

Virtualization Manager is a virtualization monitoring and management tool designed by Solarwinds that helps you to take care of your virtual machine optimization and performance issues.

Main Features

  • Comprehensive Virtualization Performance Manager: The virtualization manager equips you with an interface featuring a detailed dashboard compatible with Virtual Server Performance for VMware vSphere, Nutanix AHV, and Microsoft Hyper-V environments. Your environment views automatically map virtual machines to their hosts, storage, and related objects while providing you with detailed alerts. Detailed alerts give you information about your hypervisor-specific conditions, thresholds, and custom recommendations for problem fixing.
  • Reports: This customizable virtualization performance manager provides you an overview of all shared storage to eliminate bottlenecks, access to past performance analysis for quick troubleshooting, manage VM resources, and investigate performance issues all from the same tool.
  • Capacity Planning: With Solarwinds’ Virtualization Manager, you are also equipped with a capacity planning tool with which you test your VM capacity, forecast CPU, memory, network, and storage needs for your Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere environments, and optimize VM placements for optimum performance.
  • Sprawl Control: Sprawl control with the virtualization manager allows you to reclaim wasted resources, optimize your VM allocations, and get rid of orphaned virtual hard disks from your virtual environment.

Benefits

  • Fully-functional 30-day free trial
  • Dedicated performance, capacity planning, and resource management tools
  • Predictive recommendations
  • Chargeback reporting
  • Snapshot management
  • High VM visibility

Pricing

Virtualization manager Pricing Plan
Source : Capterra

The cost of Solarwinds’ Virtualization manager is determined by a quote, with pricing starting at $1,716. Subscription and perpetual licensing options are available to you.

2. VM Monitor

Top-Rated Virtual Machine Application with Quality Migration And Relation Tracking Options

VM Monitor is the Top Rated Virtual Machine Application with Quality Migration and Relation Tracking

VM Monitor is a VM software provided by OpManager to take care of your virtual machine performance, availability, and health monitoring needs.

Main Features

  • Performance Monitoring: The VM software also equips you with a host of reliable performance monitoring and optimization features. This tool automatically identifies, maps, and monitors all the virtual machines in your environment. Through a detailed dashboard, you view which machines use up the most resources. Thresholds may be configured to enable proactive performance monitoring, with warnings sent through alerts once thresholds have been violated.
  • Sprawl Control: OpManager gives you a tool to effectively manage your VM memory allocations. You receive instant notifications when memory usage spikes up or available memory becomes low. You additionally maintain proactive monitoring of your page faults, page reads, page writes, pages per second, and available page-file memory size.
  • Migration Management: With the VM software, you easily track and migrate your virtual machines across multiple physical hosts.
  • Relation Tracking: Thanks to real-time network topology maps, you understand your VM hosts as well as their relations with the virtual machines, networks, and data stores within your virtual environment.

Benefits

  • Capacity planning options
  • Over 1,00 reports
  • Automated workflows through triggers
  • Instant notifications via SMS or email
  • 30-day free trial
  • Bulk management actions
  • Mobile applications
  • Integrations and add-ons

Pricing

OpManager adopts a perpetual pricing scheme through three plans: a Standard Edition, Professional Edition, and Enterprise Edition for up to 250 devices. Pricing is determined by quotes.

3. VMware Fusion

Leading Virtual Machine Software Optimized For MacOS with Powerful VM Environment Support

VMware Fusion is the Leading Virtual Machine Software Optimized For MacOS

VMware Fusion is a VM software for macOS that offers dedicated solutions for IT professionals, developers, and businesses.

Main Features

  • Cross-OS Support: Although VMware Fusion is dedicated to the MacOS, it allows you to simulate a host of external operating systems on your Mac devices. This includes lesser-known versions of Linux to the more popular Windows 10, among hundreds of others. All these without having to reboot your device.
  • vSphere Connectivity Management: VMware Fusion does not just let you connect to vSphere and ESXi servers but also allows you to manage your VMs and physical hosts within one workspace. This management process is facilitated through intuitive drag and drop actions.
  • Virtual Networking: You create custom virtual networks with unique subnet settings, MTU sizes, and NAT port forwarding, among others.

Benefits

  • OCI container and Kubernetes management
  • Powerful virtual machines
  • Sandboxed experience
  • Powerful eGPUs

Pricing

VMware Fusion Pricing Plan

You have access to VMware Fusion through two perpetual solutions: VMware Fusion 12 Player and a more advanced VMware Fusion 12 Pro option. A free Personal Use license is also available to you upon registration.

4. VMware Workstation Player

Best Virtual Machine Tool with Multi-Cloud Environment Management

VMware Workstation Player is the Best Virtual Machine Tool with Multi Cloud Environment Management

VMware Workstation Player is a tool that lets you manage a single virtual machine on your Windows and Linux operating systems to distribute virtual solutions to other business desktops.

Main Features

  • Application Management: VMware Workstation Player gives you the capability to create applications and microservices. You have additional options that let you modernize existing applications and adopt containers, Kubernetes, and DevSecOps.
  • Multi-Cloud Environment: You easily migrate to the cloud and have access to scalable cloud server capacity, deploy sovereign servers, and modernize your existing data centers.
  • Disaster Recovery: The VM software offers solutions dedicated to accelerating your disaster recovery workflows.

Benefits

  • 5G cloud telecommunications solutions
  • Extended cloud infrastructure support
  • High cloud security
  • Automation
  • Log insights

Pricing

The cost of the VMware Workstation is determined by a quote.

5. Parallels

Centralized Device and Application Management Software

Parallels is the Centralized Device and Application Management Software

Parallels is a powerful VM application for simulating your Windows OS on Intel and Apple M1 Mac OS without a need to reboot, offering you additional tools for your VM management.

Main Features

  • Unified Device Management: On your Microsoft MECM, Parallels allows you to integrate your PC, Mac, and Apple mobile devices through the use of a simple plug-in. With this, you maintain seamless and complete management of your Mac lifecycle.
  • Toolbox: You have easy access to over 30 tools to clean your virtual machine storage, secure stored files, take snapshots, and download video files. These tools are easily added to your workspace by simply dragging them to the dock or taskbar.
  • Parallel RAS: This is a solution from Parallels that lets you access and use your applications and data from any device or operating system.

Benefits

  • Free trial
  • Run Windows on Chrome Enterprise device
  • Productivity tools

Pricing

Parallels Pricing Plan

You have access to Parallels through three plans: Standard Edition, Pro Edition, and Business Edition.

  • The Standard Edition is suitable for home and student use.
  • The Pro Edition is best for developers, testers, and power users.
  • The Business Edition is suitable for work settings.

Try Parallels for free for 14 days to get started.

6. Microsoft Hyper-V

Best Virtual Machine Software with Comprehensive VM Host Management Features

Microsoft Hyper-V is the Best Virtual Machine Software with Comprehensive VM Host Management Features

Microsoft Hyper-V is a VM tool dedicated to hardware virtualization, helping you create virtual hard drives, virtual switches, and add-on virtual devices.

Main Features

  • VM Management: Powered by its integration with PowerShell for automating your VM management workflows, Hyper-V additionally allows you to share devices with your virtual machines, work with checkpoints, and even create pre-release VMs.
  • Host Management: With  Microsoft Hyper-V, you enjoy options for your VM host management, including a nested virtualization option, custom VM gallery creation, easy NAT network setup, and seamless WMI porting. You can easily create virtual switches and build yourself an integration service.
  • Dedicated Platform Features: Microsoft offers features dedicated to the platform on which you make use of Hyper-V. For the virtual machine software for Windows 10 OS, you have access to a quick create option, the VM gallery, and a default NAT switch. On the Windows server, however, dedicated features include Hyper-V replica, live migration, shared .VHDX, and a virtual fibre channel.

Benefits

  • Extensive OS support
  • Automation
  • Low system requirement
  • Easy VM migration
  • High security

Pricing

Microsoft Hyper-V Pricing Plan

Microsoft Hyper-V is available to you through three perpetual purchase plans: Essentials, Standard, and Datacenter.

  • The Essentials plan is best for small businesses with up to 25 users and supports 50 devices.
  • The Standard plan is ideal for physical or minimally virtualized environments.
  • The Datacenter plan is suitable for highly virtualized datacenters and cloud environments.

7. VirtualBox

Ideal Virtual Machine Tool with Zero Hardware Virtualization

VirtualBox is an Ideal Virtual Machine Tool with Zero Hardware Virtualization

VirtualBox is a powerful, open-source 32 and 64 bit VM software from Oracle coming with cross-platform support and offering solutions for both enterprise and home use.

Main Features

  • Portability: Due to its support for both 32 and 64 bit operating systems, the VM software allows you to manage your virtual machines and their environments on an extended number of hosts. You do not get only this as you also migrate virtual machines from one host OS to another without any hassle.
  • No Hardware Virtualization: To run your virtualized OS, the VM software does not require you to have the same processor features on your hardware. All resources used within your virtualized environment are fully cloud-based, so you get to run it on old hardware.
  • Collaborations And Sharing: Through VirtualBox’s guest addition feature, you install software packages on guest systems, improve both their performance and facilitate communications with the host system. You also give them access to a shared folder on the host system and equip virtual machines with automatic video resolution adjustments and accelerated 3D graphics.

Benefits

  • Up to 32 virtual processors
  • Virtual USB controller and other USB device support
  • Extended hardware compatibility
  • Full ACPI support
  • Multi-screen resolution
  • Remote machine display

Pricing

VirtualBox Pricing Plan

Oracle’s VirtualBox is available to you through two perpetual plans: a Named User plan and a Socket plan. You pay an additional fee for a one-year software update license and technical support.

8. QEMU

Free Virtual Machine Tool with Extended Virtual Network Card Options and Architecture Support

QEMU is a Free Virtual Machine Tool with Extended Virtual Network Card Options and Architecture Support

QEMU is an open-source VM software serving as both a virtual machine emulator and virtualizer.

Main Features

  • Full System Emulation: QEMU gives you the capability to run any operating system on any machine or infrastructure. You run 32 bit operating systems on 64 bit operating systems and vice versa, and these do not have to be from the same developers. The VM software allows you to run programs for remote Linux/BSD systems on any supported infrastructure. Some of the supported architectures include x86, MIPS64, SPARC, ARM, SuperH, and PowerPC.
  • Virtualization:  Without sacrificing performance, QEMU lets you manage a cloud environment for your KVM and Xen virtual machines.
  • Network Card Emulation: You emulate network cards of different models sharing your host system’s connectivity, keeping guest systems in the same network environment. These emulated cards possess compatibility with other external interfaces thanks to a bridging feature.

Benefits

  • Free to use
  • Does not require administrative rights to run
  • Integrations for communications between the host and guest systems
  • Scalable disk space management

Pricing

QEMU is a free VM software.

9. Red Hat Virtualization

Linux-Based Virtual Machine Application with Extensive Native Integrations

Red Hat Virtualization is the Linux Based Virtual Machine Application with Extensive Native Integrations

Red Hat Virtualization is an enterprise-grade virtualization platform offering you solutions to automate, manage, and modernize your key virtual workloads.

Main Features

  • Linux-Based Workflows: Built on the Linux OS, Red Hat allows you to automate your daily operations and manage your virtual workloads such as resource-intensive and critical applications. You make use of familiar Linux skills for these.
  • Native Integrations: Red Hat Virtualization extends your functionality and improves productivity through native integrations with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, Red Hat OpenStack® Platform, and Red Hat OpenShift solutions.
  • Open-Source collaborations: The VM software allows for collaborations among KVM and oVirt developers for consistent improvements.

Benefits

  • Open-source application
  • Easy access to integrations
  • Great for individuals with previous experience with Linux OS

Pricing

You can purchase Red Hat Virtualization from its experts or through its partners. Pricing is determined by quotes.

10. Proxmox VE

Most Suitable Open-Source Virtual Machine Software that Implements KVM and Container-Based Technologies

Proxmox VE is the Most Suitable Open Source Virtual Machine Software that Implements KVM

Proxmox VE is an open-source server management platform offering integrations with KVM hypervisor and Linux Containers (LXC) and providing you with software-defined storage and integrated networking functionality.

Main Features

  • Server Virtualization: With Proxmox, your virtualized server environments are based on the Debian GNU/Linux and use a custom Linux Kernel. These are open-source, so you get to make your personal improvements. You enjoy integrations with the KVM and container-based virtualization technologies, allowing you to manage virtualized hardware resources as well as system and application containers.
  • Management: You easily manage your servers with a web-based integrated GUI based on the ExtJS JavaScript framework. With it, you run backup tasks, migrate VMs, and set up HA-triggered activities. You have access to a cluster file system that allows you to synchronize configuration files across servers in your cluster.
  • Firewall: A Proxmox VE firewall feature is placed at your disposal, giving you an option to protect your IT and virtualized infrastructure, offering full support for IPv4 and IPv6.

Benefits

  • Role-based administration
  • Distributed firewall
  • Backup and restore options
  • Flexible storage options

Pricing

Proxmox VE Pricing Plan

With all plans available to you through both subscription and perpetual pricing basis, Proxmox offers its services through a community plan, basic plan, standard plan, and premium plan.

  • The Community plan is suitable for users new to virtual machines. 
  • The Basic plan is best for growing businesses.
  • The Standard plan is ideal for large businesses.
  • The Premium plan offers you access to the Enterprise repository and remote support.

11. Kernel Virtual Machine

Best Virtual Machine Application Dedicated To x86 Linux Architectures

Kernel Virtual Machine is the Best Virtual Machine Application Dedicated To x86 Linux Architectures

Kernel Virtual Machine is a virtualization solution dedicated to the x86 Intel VT or AMD-V Linux hardware extensions.

Main Features

  • QMP: Standing for “QEMU Monitor Protocol”, KVM offers integrations with the VM software, adopting its VM management features and protocols for you to use on its platform.
  • Hotplug Support: With KVM, you easily add more CPU resources to your virtual machine without any hassle. It has support for PCI, allowing you to also easily add PCI devices.
  • VM Channel: You have access to a communication channel connecting your host and guest devices.
  • Hotplug Support: KVM lets you quickly add CPU and PCI devices to your virtual machines thanks to this feature.
  • Migrations: You have access to features facilitating your migration of virtual machines from one host to another.

Benefits

  • Easy VM migration
  • USB support options
  • Multiple userspace emulation options
  • CPU cluster management
  • Nested guests
  • USB device options
  • Multiple userspace emulation options

Pricing

KVM is a free virtual machine software.

12. Citrix Hypervisor

Top Virtual Machine Tool for Windows 10

Citrix Hypervisor is the Top Virtual Machine Tool for Windows 10

Citrix Hypervisor is a VM software that simplifies the operational management of your Citrix virtual apps and desktops and optimizes user experience with intensive workloads. This software is trusted by Aston Martin for its virtual F1 car tracking and analysis.

Main Features

  • Virtualizations: With Citrix, you virtualize desktops and servers, meaning you have access to both virtualized hardware and software resources on your device.
  • Centralized VM Management: You have a workspace that centralizes the management of your virtualized hardware and software VM components. A dashboard gives you access to real-time reporting on the status of VM resources.
  • Security: Your VM environment is protected with a robust security architecture.

Benefits

  • Cloud optimizations
  • Citrix provisioning optimizations
  • Graphic intensive solutions

Pricing

The cost of the Citrix Hypervisor is determined by a quote.

What is a Virtual Machine?

A virtual machine (VM) is a virtualized computer, either in the form of a desktop (PC), smartphone, or server, emulated on another device.

Possessing the same components as its physical counterparts, such as a CPU, storage, and memory, virtual machines are software-defined computers existing on physical devices as code.

Virtual machines, however, still have physical elements crucial to their existence. The various virtualized computing resources like the CPU, memory, and storage are borrowed from a physical server or device located at its host’s data center. These physical resources are only virtualized.

Typically, on the computer making use of them, they run as Windows in a separate computing environment and make use of a separate partition from that which the primary operating system is run on.

This means they do not affect how your operating system runs. VMs are mostly used to run or test out originally incompatible operating systems or as environments for developers to create and deploy apps.

How to Choose the Right Virtual Machine Software

Virtual machines come in different forms and serve different purposes. You have VMs with a balance of CPU, memory, storage, and GPU.

There are VMs majorly dedicated to providing you with one of these virtualized resources, as well as dedicated VMs for certain operating systems and programming languages. Nonetheless, choosing the right virtual machine is a difficult task as long as you know exactly what you want.

1. Software Integrations

Virtual machines increase the functionality of your device. You get to run more operating systems, development platforms, and applications that would have rather been impossible to run with your original OS or architecture.

Choosing a VM, you want to select one that offers you a comprehensive list of integrated software functionalities. You want a VM with extensive integrations and strong partnerships with top software providers on the internet, as well as additional integrations with smaller, function-specific software providers.

This way, your VM functionalities are highly extendable and a lot of your business computing processes, both basic and advanced, are covered on a single device.

2. Scalability

One major advantage of cloud server computing is the resource scalability you get from it. You scale your computing resources up or down, depending on the exact amount you need.

What you want to check for is the ease in scalability a virtual machine software offers you, as well as how far this scalability goes.

You measure this against your needs and pick a virtual machine provider that gives you fast scalability and enough up-scaling of resources to cover your future computing needs.

3. Migration Support

Migrating your VM computing resources and data should not be hindered by any VM software you choose to use. While selecting a software, check to see that there is no form of vendor lock-in related to its services. 

Conditions may change, like a need for more supported architectures, and you may need to switch from one VM software to another. Migration support remains important.

4. Backup And Restore Options

Choose a VM software with reliable data backup options. You want the most uptime for your operations, so to keep your virtual systems running, top VM software provides regular backup options to users. Backup and restore options then prove helpful in case of a server failure.

5. VM Management Options

With virtual computing, especially when the cloud is involved, service providers either offer managed or unmanaged solutions. Managed solutions involve your service provider taking up the management of your virtual environment and with unmanaged solutions, this is taken care of by you.

Based on how much time and technical ability you have to administer your virtual systems and environment, you select one of these options:

  • Managed solutions for less control but more time and human resources in your hand.
  • Unmanaged solutions for more control and dedicated team members to manage virtual environments.

Other options to consider while selecting a virtual machine software include strong security, varied CPU configurations, and an up-to-date VM infrastructure.

How to Set Up a Virtual Machine

The procedures for setting up your virtual machine are straightforward but depend on the VM software you choose to use. However, there are certain general steps common with a lot of VMs.

Step 1: Download And Install VM

You go to the official website or the download page of your selected virtual machine and download it. You proceed to appropriately follow its setup guide and install it on your system.

Step 2: Download OS .iso File

Next, you download the .iso file extension for the operating system you wish to run using the virtual machine. Basically, all VMs require your OS installation file to be in this file extension.

Step 3: Install OS On Virtual Machine

Once your OS .iso file is downloaded, you then proceed to install your operating system on the virtual machine. Some VM software tools require that you choose the exact OS before importing the .iso from your device. This helps them apply default configurations and dedicated optimizations for your chosen OS. Your OS setup remains the same as the one for standard computers.

Step 4: Startup Your Virtual Machine

Once your OS installation is complete, you then launch your virtual machine to make use of it.

Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.