Virtual Machine – How does the computer in the computer work?

Virtual Machine – How does the computer in the computer work?

A virtual machine, or VM for short, has a number of characteristics that can be advantageous for a wide range of applications. But what exactly is a VM and why is it very useful to use one in certain situations?

What is a virtual machine?

A virtual machine is a computer inside a computer. The following components are required to run a VM:

  • Host system (the “real” computer)
  • Virtualizable processor (and the corresponding BIOS setting)
  • Virtualization software (e.g. VirtualBox or VMWare)
  • Guest system (the VM itself)

Here, the virtualization software, also called hypervisor, ensures that the existing hardware resources of the host system are distributed to the guest systems. You can determine how much RAM, hard disk space and also how many processor cores are to be made available to each virtual machine.

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Why do you need a VM?

The biggest advantage of a virtual machine is that you can run multiple systems in parallel on a single physical computer. These systems are either completely isolated or can communicate with each other and with the Internet via a virtual network. This ensures that the available hardware can usually be used much more efficiently. The uses of VMs and virtual networks can be diverse:

For example, it is possible to build an entire network of virtual machines to test web applications before they are deployed to the open Internet. It is also useful to examine suspicious email attachments or downloads in an isolated VM. Web hosters use virtualization so that not every customer has to rent their own physical computer, but always only the required portion.

Last but not least, for anyone considering switching to a new operating system, using a virtual machine is a good way to test possible candidates. In doing so, the running system remains untouched, except for the installation of the hypervisor.

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Chris Wojzechowski

Mein Name ist Chris Wojzechowski und ich habe vor wenigen Jahren meinen Master in Internet-Sicherheit in Gelsenkirchen studiert. Ich bin geschäftsführender Gesellschafter der AWARE7 GmbH und ausgebildeter IT-Risk Manager, IT-Grundschutz Praktiker (TÜV) und besitze die Prüfverfahrenskompetenz für § 8a BSIG. Unser Brot und Buttergeschäft ist die Durchführung von Penetrationstests. Wir setzen uns darüber hinaus für ein breites Verständnis für IT-Sicherheit in Europa ein und bieten aus diesem Grund den Großteil unserer Produkte kostenfrei an.