|VMware vs. VirtualBox Part 2|
|Wednesday, 18 March 2009 17:25|
I thought I would revisit the virtual machine front to see if VirtualBox had progressed any since my last look (VMware vs. VirtualBox Jan '08). My test system was an ASUS P6T Deluxe V2, Intel i7 940, 12GB DDR3, Raptor 300GB drives, and Vista x64 SP1. VMware version 6.5.1 build-126130 and VirtualBox 2.1.4 were both installed on my C: drive and their respective images and virtual files located on D:.
I usually don't give much merit to synthetic benchmarks, but I thought I would start with that to see if there were any significant changes from my previous test. I installed SiSoftware's Sandra onto a clean host install of WinXP SP3 to both virtual systems.
I ran Sandra's performance index benchmark several times. Although the numbers differed slightly each time, the results were pretty much uniform. The big change from my previous test was the disk speed. VirtualBox has made huge improvements in disk performance since the 1.5 version I had previously used. Although they are both very close, VirtualBox actually pulls ahead overall in synthetic benchmarks.
I tend to copy a lot of files to and from my virtual systems, so fast network and disk speed are really important to me. VirtualBox 1.5 had performed poorly in this area in my previous test. To investigate this again, I used a 1GB vob file located on a network share. I mapped the drop and started a copy from Windows Explorer. As you can see it was a dead heat this time. I was really impressed with VirtualBox's improvements here.
Another important aspect for me is the boot time. One of my most common virtual systems is WinXP so I thought I would time how long it takes to get from post to desktop. The numbers clearly demonstrate the VirtualBox is noticably faster at booting WinXP than VMware.
For my purposes, VirtualBox is currently the better choice for me. After using both, VirtualBox feels cleaner, faster, and lighter than VMware. Just looking at the installer would give one that impression as well, as VMware 6.5 workstation weighs in at 500 megabytes while VirtualBox is a mere 40 in comparison. VirtualBox booting WinXP in half the amount of time was yet another nail in VMware's coffin.
I still prefer VMware interfaces though. I like that I can have several machines running in different tabs in the same window, much like modern web browsers can have several sites open at the same time. The VMware has numerous other interface advantages as well. For instance, reverting to a previous snapshot is a single click in VMware or mounting an optical disc image is much faster with VMware. The overall layout and access is more ergonomic, which is often the case for a more mature product. Another VMware feature I will miss is drag and drop file sharing between some hosts. Being able to drop a file from my Vista desktop to my WinXP virtual machine is really nice and I will miss it dearly.
Virtual machine software is complex and it has many uses, so I can't pick the best one for everyone. For me it has been VMware for a long time now, but now VirtualBox will be my choice.
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