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Best Virtual Machine software for Mac


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Looking at installing either VMWare Fashion, Parallels, or Virtual Box to run Windows 10 on my MacBook Pro for LabVIEW development. Whichever I use I want to have the best compatibility with USB and Ethernet hardware for NI hardware as well as third party. Virtualbox is appealing since its free but I'm not sure how well it works and was hoping to find out from you all what you've had success with before I waste a lot of time going down one path. Fushion looks amazing but wow $200 for their Pro license and $160 for their normal license is a lot.

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I use Parallels. Have been using it for years. They have a one-time price point and also a subscription model.

It's the best in my opinion. I use it for professional work. If you are a hobbyist or don't want to spend money, then go for Virtual Box. I've heard some people use it just fine. It's free so you can just try it.

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50 minutes ago, Michael Aivaliotis said:

I use Parallels. Have been using it for years. They have a one-time price point and also a subscription model.

It's the best in my opinion. I use it for professional work. If you are a hobbyist or don't want to spend money, then go for Virtual Box. I've heard some people use it just fine. It's free so you can just try it.

Michael thanks so much for your response. Do you use the basic 1 time version of Parallels or the subscription version. Seems like VMWare Fushion Pro would be cheaper by the time you factor in the subscription to get Parallels pro. I'd like the ability to copy VM's but maybe that's not that big of a deal. 

Has hardware communication been a problem with Parallels?

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I have been using Parallels for a long time. It works but it also hurts (more on this below). As far as subscription vs none, there used to be limitations to the one-of version in terms of number of cores and max RAM (this might have changed, but I don't think so). This is a problem when you have a multicore machine and you end up limited to only a few. There are some additional perks coming with the subscription version (including updates, and a la LabVIEW, the corresponding bug fixes).

Be warned that their support is nowhere close to NI's, which is a problem when something fails badly (and it will, potentially). Thus, do not upgrade to the newest version until after careful monitoring of their forums, as my experience has been that it can sometimes completely fail and corrupt your VM.

Which brings me to the most important advice (independently of the upgrade step): do not save critical data - e.g. VIs- as part of you VM (unless you want to backup a multi GB blob every day as part of your Time Machine routing - the VM comes as a humongous file that you will probably want to exclude from your backup routine and only save every now and then - typically before an upgrade), but instead, take advantage of the ability to share data between your VM and the Mac. This way, if your VM becomes corrupted, it's just a matter of getting an old copy of it (with only the system and apps, which typically don't change that often or can be easily updated if needed). Your data files will have been on the mac side of things all along and unaffected by the Parallels fiasco. It has happened to me several times.

As usual, YMMV.

As a note, I am not sure this is the best time to switch to a Mac, with the Apple silicon transition, which will at best emulate Intel CPUs, and as far as I know, Parallels adjustment to this is still in the work. I am personally switching to a Thinkpad... and in the long term, Python 🙂

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