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How to Use Windows 10 as A Virtual Machine

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    Why Choose to Run Windows 10 as A Virtual Machine

    win 10 Windows 10 has arrived! And, according to a survey, lots of people are running Windows 10 since this OS has many excellent features. To be specific, your files will be right where you left them; it has built-in free anti-virus protection; Windows 10 is familiar and easy to use: the start menu is back and improved so you can get quick access to your favorite things. You’ll feel at home in Windows 10.

    However, although Widows 10 has lots of good features, it is vulnerable and unstable since Microsoft does not have enough time to perfect this newly released operating system (only released for 4 months). In addition, a part of features supported by previous versions of Windows OS are unavailable on Windows 10. For instance, Windows Media Center and the ability to play DVDs are no longer available; we are unable to uninstall some Windows-built-in apps including Calculator, Alarms & Clock, Calendar, Camera, Cortana, Mail, and Maps. Due to these reasons, many users just hope to run Windows 10 as a virtual machine, because this can reserve their current OS.

    What Is Virtual Machine

    In computing, a virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of a particular computer system. Virtual machines operate based on the computer architecture and functions of a real or hypothetical computer, and their implementations may involve specialized hardware, software, or a combination of both.
    ---------- Wikipedia

    Broadly speaking, a virtual machine is a piece of software that essentially creates a sandbox into which you can install an operating system without directly affecting the existing one on your PC. And, thanks to free virtual machine apps, we can run Windows 10 on our current PC – then remove it when we’ve seen enough.

    Now, let’s see some necessary preparations for using Windows 10 as a VM.

    Do 3 Things Before Running Windows 10 as A Virtual Machine

    Thankfully, setting up Windows 10 in a virtual machine isn’t particularly difficult. We’ll show you the whole profess from tip to tail.

    1:Mark a Partition to Save The Virtual Machine

    In the beginning, we need to select a separate partition to install Windows 10 VM as well as related files.

    Note: if there is no separate partition on the real computer, we need to create one by using Windows disk management tool. However, when creating a new partition on MBR disk, you may receive some error messages. For instance: You cannot create a new volume in this unallocated space because the disk already contains the maximum number of partitions. For solutions, please see Can’t create partition Windows 8.

    Well, how large should this separate partition be? Generally, creating Windows 10 (32-bit version) virtual machine takes up about 6 GB of space, but we had better allocate the partition with much more space (I allocate it with 30GB space), because VM related files will be increasing continuously as long as we make operations in Windows 10 VM. Once the partition has little or no free space left, we might have troubles in running Windows 10. If your selected partition does not have enough space to save Windows 10 virtual machine, try enlarging it. For detailed steps, please see extend partition.

    2: Choose An Appropriate Virtual Machine App

    If we Google virtual machine applications, we will find a lot of such programs, among which VirtualBox and VMware Workstation are the two most popular ones.

    virtual box VirtualBox is a piece of professional-grade and open-source virtualization software. From Oracle: VirtualBox is a family of x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers, it is also the only professional solution that is freely available as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

    VirtualBox may be installed on a number of host operating systems, including: Linux, OS X, Windows OS, Solaris, and OpenSolaris. There are also ports to FreeBSD and Genode.

    VMware Workstation

    vm worksataion VMware Workstation, a hypervisor that runs on x64 computers (an x86 version of earlier releases was available), enables us to set up one or more VMs on a single physical machine and use them simultaneously along with the actual machine. Each VM can execute its own operating system, including versions of Microsoft Windows, Linux, BSD, and MS-DOS.

    Developed and sold by VMware, Inc., a division of EMC Corporation, VMware Workstation can save the state of a virtual machine (a "snapshot") at any instant. These snapshots can later be restored, effectively returning the VM to the saved state. Furthermore, VMware Workstation includes the ability to designate multiple virtual machines as a team which can then be powered on, powered off, suspended or resumed as a single object, making it particularly useful for testing client-server environments.

    After getting a piece of suitable virtual machine software (VirtualBox or VMware Workstation), we need to download Windows 10 ISO file for installation.

    3: Download Windows 10 ISO File

    We can download Windows 10 ISO file from the Microsoft's site. An ISO is a package of files that's usually installed from an optical disc, but a virtual machine basically tricks your computer into thinking that the files are on a CD or DVD. The virtual machine will install the ISO's contents much faster than an optical drive can.

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    How to Run Windows 10 as A Virtual Machine

    After downloading Windows 10 ISO file and installing VirtualBox or VMware Workstation on computer, we can create a new VM and then install OS in it.

    How to Use Windows 10 in VirtualBox

    Step 1: Creating A Virtual Machine

    Once we’ve downloaded and installed VirtualBox, run the program to get its main window.


    To create Windows 10 virtual machine, we need to click the “New” icon in the top left corner of the window. Next, in the Create Virtual Machine dialog box, we can type "Windows 10" and then click the “Version” and select which type it is from a couple of drop down menus (making sure to match the ISO we downloaded: 64- or 32-bit). Then click “Next” button.

    memoery size

    Now, we need to decide how much RAM we want to allocate for this VM. VirtualBox will recommend a value, and we suggest you go with that then click “Next”.
    Note: Whatever you decide, just make sure you stay in the green. If you allocate too much RAM, you’ll end up with serious performance issues. And, we'd recommend at least 2GB of RAM, preferably 4GB. But if you have only 4GB to start with, give the virtual machine 2GB. If you have 6GB of system RAM, 3GB is great.

    create a hard drive now

    Then, select "Create a virtual hard drive now" and click “Create” to create a virtual drive. Microsoft says that 16GB is the minimum space needed for the 32-bit version, but 20GB is required for the 64-bit version. Note: the recommended size of the hard drive is 20GB. After that, click “VDI” (VirtualBox Disk Image) as the file type for the drive and click “Next”. And then, we choose “Fixed Size for the virtual drive” and click “Next” button.

    file location and size

    Finally, we’ll be asked to name the drive and confirm its size, and click “Create” to complete the process.

    Step 2: Installing Windows 10

    When we complete the Create Virtual Machine wizard, we're ready to install the Windows 10. We need to click “Settings” button in the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager, and then click “Storage” in the VM settings window. Next, select “Empty” under Controller: IDE in Storage Tree, select the CD icon, click “Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file…”, select Windows 10 ISO file, select “Open” and click “OK”. (as shown below)

    choose a virtual CDDVD disk file

    After that, click “Start” in the VirtualBox window.

    The installation of Windows 10 on the newly created VM begins. We have two installation options. Here, we choose the second one "Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)" and click “Next” to install Windows in the VM. (as shown below) This step can take a long time, depending on the computer's speed. As usual, the setup process may involve a few reboots, though only within the confines of the virtual machine.

    Custom option

    Next, let’s see detailed steps of how to use Windows 10 as a VM via another popular app.

    How to Use Windows 10 in VMware Workstation

    Step 1: Setting up A VMware Virtual Machine

    create a new virtual machine

    Firstly, we can launch VMware Workstation and then click “Create a New Virtual Machine”, select “Typical (recommended)” and click “Next” button. In the next step of the New Virtual Machine wizard, click “Browse…” to select the Windows 10 ISO file and click “Next”.

    select the operating system

    Here, since Windows 10 was just released, VMware workstation might be unable to automatically detect this operating system. Therefore, we need to select "Microsoft Windows" as operating system and select any version of Windows. Note: please make sure you select x64 or x86 according to the ISO you downloaded. Then click “Next” button. After that, specify Virtual machine name and appoint it with a location on physical machine.

    set hard disk capacity

    After these steps, we can set hard disk capacity (a virtual hard disk can function like a physical hard disk, so it can be used to save different kinds of files, too), and the recommended maximum disk size is 60GB. Here, we suggest typing exact value to reset a new hard disk capacity. If we simply click “Next” to continue rather than reset a new hard disk capacity, we may need to increase hard disk capacity of the virtual machine in one day. And for questions of how to add or enlarge hard disk for virtual machine on VMware Workstation, please see How To Enlarge Hard Disk for Virtual Machine Easily and Safely.

    Note: in this step, we had better stay with the “Split virtual disk into multiple files” option. Otherwise, VMware will immediately allocate the space on our hard drive.

    customize harware

    In the above window, if we’re okay with the VMware defaults we can go ahead and select “Finish” button to move on. On the other hand, we can also customize the hardware that our VM will use. For instance, we can increase or decrease the available RAM; we can give this VM some extra CPU power by allowing it to use two cores instead of one.

    Step 2: Installing Windows 10

    power on

    Now, we simply click “Power on this virtual machine” to install Windows 10. At this time, installing OS on virtual machine likes installing system on physical disk.

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    2 Necessary Tips After installation

    1: Taking Snapshots of Virtual Machines

    After installing Windows 10 on VirtualBox or VMware Workstation, we can test some new features of Windows 10. However, it is recommended to take snapshots before using Windows 10 in case of system crash.

    When we take a snapshot, we preserve the state of a VM at a specific moment in time and the virtual machine continues to run. Snapshots allow us to quickly move between different states of the machine. As a result, if the current system is damaged, we can easily return to the previous version of Windows. We can take a snapshot while a virtual machine is powered on, powered off, or suspended. Let’s see how to make snapshots.

    Taking a snapshot in VirtualBox

    Select the virtual machine and click “Machine > Take Snapshot…”.
    Next, give the snapshot a name.
    Finally, click “OK”.

    Taking a snapshot in VMware Workstation

    Select the virtual machine and select “VM > Snapshot > Take Snapshot”.
    Type a unique name for the snapshot.
    Click “Take Snapshot”.

    2: Partition Hard Disk Drive

    As we know, most virtual machines contain a single partition on their hard drive, meaning that it shows up as one drive in the Computer window (as C:, typically). However, keeping our data, applications and operating systems on the same partition can be risky. To be specific, if the partition gets damaged, we will lose all data. Therefore, to perfectly manage data, we had better create multiple partitions. For example, one partition for our documents, pictures, music or videos, one for our backup data, and one for games.

    Windows Disk Management tool provides us with a solution to creating new partitions: shrink the existing partition via the function “Shrink Volume” to get unallocated space, and then create new partitions in the unallocated space.

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    Install 2 Necessary Tools for Windows 10

    Before using Windows 10, users need to install some necessary programs, such as security software, video/audio player, and drawing tool. But today we are going to introduce 2 other programs which might be unfamiliar to you but can help you a lot.

    1:Partition Management Software

    In the process of testing Windows 10 VM, we may encounter some partition issues. For instance, one of hard disk partitions is running out of space (especially C drive) or Windows cannot start due to setting a wrong partition active. But fortunately, partitioning problems can be easily settled by using a piece of free partition management software. Here, we take MiniTool Partition Wizard for example to show what problems this kind of programs can help resolve.

    After running Partition Wizard successfully, we can see multiple disk management functions, such as Rebuild MBR, Delete All Partitions, Partition Recovery, and Wipe Disk. After selecting a partition, we can see all performable partition management functions, like Extend Partition, Copy Partition, Set Partition as Logical/Primary, and Change Cluster Size. With these functions, we can solve lots of partitioning problems, for example:

    C Drive Is Running Out of Space

    After running Windows 10 for a long time, we may receive the warning that C drive is running in low disk space, but we can easily and quickly increase its size without deleting some files.

    C drive out of sapce

    In the main window of MiniTool Partition Wizard, we can click C drive and then choose “Extend Partition” from the left panel to get the following window. Next, take free space from an unallocated space (or an existing partition). Finally, click “Apply” button to perform all changes.

    Operating System Not Found

    Sometimes, Windows 10 virtual machine cannot boot and we receive the error message “missing operating system” or “operating system not found”. In this situation, what should we do? In general, if we had taken a snapshot, we can easily revert to the previous version of Windows. However, what if there is no snapshot? At this time, the “Rebuild MBR” feature or “Set Partition Active/Inactive” feature of MiniTool Partition Wizard could help you to get missing operating system back.

    If you are troubled by partitioning problems, just try asking partitioning program for help.

    2: Data Recovery Software

    Last but not least, we need to prepare a data recovery tool for Windows 10 since data loss caused by various factors happens more and more frequently. For instance, we accidentally deleted or formatted a partition during the process of managing partitions. To recover lost data, we could turn to MiniTool Power Data Recovery since it has been awarded as the top 10 free data recovery software on TOPTENREVIEWS.


    In the above window, we can select a suitable recovery module to recover Windows 10 lost data without affecting the original data because of its high security. To be specific, the “Undelete Recovery” can help to recover files deleted from Windows Recycle Bin or by using SHIFT+DELETE key; the “Damaged Partition Recovery” recovers data from logically damaged partition (formatted partition, RAW partition, etc.); the “Lost Partition Recovery” is specially designed to recover data from lost partition; and the “Digital Media Recovery” recovers lost music, photo and video files.

    Will you use Windows 10 as VM? And, if you have any issues in using Windows 10 VM, please post them to Comment section, and we can solve them one by one.