It’s a computer file (often referred to as an image) that behaves like an actual computer.
It’s like you’re creating a computer within your computer.
It runs a lot like any other program, but the virtual machine is separate from the rest of the system.
That means that the software inside a virtual machine can’t escape and tamper with your computer.
This makes it an ideal spot for testing new releases, examining infected data, creating OS backups and running applications and software on operating systems that they weren’t originally intended for.
You can even run multiple virtual machines simultaneously on the same computer.
Image by (Joenomias) Menno de Jong from PixabayI want thatWe’re going to do a simple walkthrough of the absolute basics you need to set up VirtualBox with the extension pack and run Windows 10.
This is only one way to set things up.
You can have a lot more fun from here if you’re interested!The programs we’re going to use are completely free and we have permission to use them.
(I’m putting that out there because things can get pretty slippery as you get closer to the world of hacking.
) We’ll head over to Oracle to grab VirtualBox and the VirtualBox extension pack.
Then we’ll head to Microsoft to grab the version of Windows that we want to use.
Step 1: Download VirtualBoxIf you go to VirtualBox, you’ll see a giant green “Download VirtualBox” button.
Go ahead and click that or head over to the VirtualBox downloads page to pick the right version of VirtualBox for your system.
If you’re on a Mac, you’ll click the MacOsX link.
Or:On the downloads page, you’ll also see a section titled “VirtualBox 6.
8 Oracle VM Virtual Box Extension Pack.
” Click “All supported platforms” to download the extension pack.
Step 2: Grab Windows 10You have a few ways you can install Windows 10 on your virtual machine, but this is the simplest one I’ve found.
It’s designed and released by Microsoft specifically for this purpose.
Make sure you choose “MSEdge on Win10 (x64) Stable 1809” if you want to run Windows 10 and “VirtualBox” under “Select platform.
” Then click the “Download .
zip” button!Somewhat optional: the UnarchiverIt also makes sense to download The Unarchiver.
It’s a quick, free, and powerful way to open these files.
It’s also recommended in Microsoft’s official documentation.
You don’t need to use it to open VirtualBox or the extension pack, but it’s a good idea to use an app like this one to extract the Windows 10 download.
Once your downloads are ready, head over to your downloads folder.
Right-click the VirtualBox icon and go to “Open with” and click on “The Unarchiver.
” This will unzip and open your file.
Step 3: Install VirtualBox and the extension packYou can install VirtualBox just like you would any program or application right into your Applications folder.
Of course, you can change the location if you want to.
Then follow the installer prompts.
Next, go to your Applications folder (or to the location you specified for VirtualBox) and double click the icon to open it.
You can open and install your extension pack the same way as you did for VirtualBox.
When you start your installation, you’ll see a popup window that lets you know what you’re installing.
”Step 4: Get your OS up and runningNow that you have VirtualBox installed, it’s time to create a virtual machine.
To do that, you need to have an operating system.
We’re going to use our Windows 10 Microsoft download, but you have a lot of options if you get into this!Go ahead and open up your Microsoft download with the Unarchiver.
Windows is already set up and ready to go if you want to use it as-is.
To do that, click “Import.
” You can import it as-is and then modify your settings at any time.
Go ahead and import it the way it is if you don’t have a different plan in mind.
Now go to VirtualBox and click “New.
” This will open a wizard that will guide you through installation.
First, you’re going to want to give your virtual machine a name.
Because this is so fun, I strongly recommend giving your virtual machine a very descriptive and straightforward name.
They start to look a lot alike after a while and this will save you some serious frustration.
Something like “Windows 10” or “MSEdge-Win10” makes a lot of sense.
If you choose creative names and really get into this, you might have trouble later remembering that “Muffins” is running Windows 10 while “Tchotchke” is running Kali Linux and so on.
Image by MrsBrown from PixabaySpecify the type of operating system you’ll be running (Microsoft Windows) and the version (Windows 10 64 bit) and click “Next.
”Now you need to set the amount of RAM.
You’re specifying how much of your computer’s RAM will go to your virtual machine.
VirtualBox automatically lets you know the recommended minimum amount for the OS you selected, but you can increase or decrease this if you want to.
Remember that you can only go as high as the amount of RAM your system actually has and it’s not a great idea to set it to the maximum amount.
There wouldn’t be any left for your regular OS to use while you’re running your virtual machine!.Don’t specify more than you can spare, especially if you think you might wind up running multiple VMs at the same time.
No matter what, your best bet is to stay in the green section.
Otherwise, you’ll probably face some serious performance issues.
”Now you need to create a virtual hard drive.
Select an option and click “Create” and then go through the prompts and click “Create” again.
You do need a virtual hard drive to install your operating system and any other programs.
The most common format for virtual hard drives is VirtualBox Disk Image (VDI).
Make sure that it has at least enough space to install the operating system.
Remember that any programs you want to install will also take up space on your virtual hard drive!I went ahead and chose “Dynamically Allocated” for the storage details, but that might not be the right choice for you.
A dynamically allocated file will grow in size as you store data.
It starts small, but it will grow.
A fixed-size file, on the other hand, will immediately occupy the size you specify.
Even though it initially occupies more space, this type of file incurs less overhead.
That means that it’s actually slightly faster.
Click “Create” to create your new virtual machine!.Now you’ll see your new machine listed on the left-hand side of your VirtualBox window.
It’s time to start the operating system installation!.Once your virtual machine has been configured, the installation wizard will close and you’ll be back at the VirtualBox main window.
Double click your new machine on the left (or make sure it’s selected and then click “Start”).
To install from an image file (that’s what we have), click the folder icon to browse for your file.
You’re looking for our Microsoft download.
Select that file and click “Start.
”Now your installation will begin!.Once it’s complete, you’re ready to go.
Congratulations!You are now the proud owner of a Windows machine that’s running right inside of your Mac!Make sure you think of your VM as a totally separate computer as you’re setting things up.
That will help you avoid getting frustrated.
When you’re running your virtual machine, it’s completely separate from your actual computer.
You don’t have access to the same files and folders.
Even your mouse clicks won’t move back and forth between your computer and your virtual machine unless you set it up that way.
Final detailsDouble click on your machine on the left-hand side of the VirtualBox screen, or click on your machine and hit “Start” any time you want to run your machine.
A window will open and you’ll see your brand new Windows machine.
It can take a couple of seconds (or minutes) to really get up and running.
Take a couple of breaths if it seems a little slow or glitchy at first.
Once your new Windows machine is running, go ahead and click anywhere in the window to wake it up.
It will ask you for your username and password.
You can find those any time in the official installation documentation.
(Your username is “IEUser” and your password is “Passw0rd!” but you can change that any time in the control panel under “User Accounts.
”)When you first boot up your machine, the window is pretty small.
You can expand the window the normal way, but it’s unlikely it will resize to fit at first.
You can make that happen by selecting “Scaled mode” from the view menu.
If you want to ignore the aspect ratio, hold down the shift key while you’re resizing your window.
At first, when you work on your VM, it will “own” both your keyboard and mouse.
You can look at the bottom right corner of the window to see the command you need to swich from your virtual machine to your regular OS.
You also have the option to move your mouse back and forth between the two by going to Input at the top of your screen while your VM is running and selecting “Mouse Integration.
”Moving filesAfter setting up my VM, I needed to quickly grab some files and programs that I had downloaded on my Mac.
It was a minor emergency and there wasn’t time for research.
This may not be the best way to move your information from your Mac to your Windows machine (and vice versa), but I found that uploading my files into OneDrive was the easiest and fastest workaround for grabbing what I needed from my Mac.
It was installed and ready to go on the Windows machine.
Signing up for OneDrive is fast and free.
This is definitely not the only solution, but it’s here if you’re in a hurry.
(Dropbox would work just as well, assuming you aren’t having a bit of a storage issue at the moment…)SnapshotsVirtualBox lets you copy your virtual machine’s exact state.
That allows you to return to that state at any time.
This is incredibly useful for testing software or other configurations.
You can take a snapshot by clicking the Machine menu and selecting “Take a snapshot.
” The snapshot will be added to the list of your virtual machines on the left side of the VirtualBox menu.
You can restore a snapshot by right-clicking the snapshot and selecting “Restore.
” Any changes to your virtual hard drive since the time you created the snapshot will be lost when you restore the snapshot.
Shut downYou have a couple of different options when you close your virtual machine.
Each affects the machine a little differently.
When you close your virtual machine window, you‘ll see several options.
You can choose:Save the machine state.
This saves the virtual machine in exactly the state that it’s in when you close it.
Any programs you’re running will be saved in their current state and everything will be restored when you start the machine again.
Send the shutdown signal.
This will send a power-down signal to the virtual machine, and it will shut down just as though you hit the power button on a physical computer.
Power off the machine.
This will power down the machine as if power was cut to the computer.
Nothing will be saved.
You did it!Congratulations!!!.You are now the proud owner of a free Windows machine that you can run any time right inside of your Mac!.You can pretty much do anything from here.
Start playing!As always, if you do anything amazing with this information, let everyone know about it in the comments below or reach out any time on LinkedIn @annebonnerdata.
If you’d like to read more articles like this, head on over to my profile!And of course….. More details