How to Speed Up VirtualBox

Written by christopher delia
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How to Speed Up VirtualBox
Speeding Up VirtualBox (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

VirtualBox is an application that allows you to install and run multiple operating systems within a virtual machine. It bridges the compatibility gap among many of the different operating systems that are available on the market today. No matter which operating system you decide to install within VirtualBox, there are some important things that you need to learn first. Such as how to balance its settings to allow for increased performance, without taking away valuable system resources for your host computer.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • VirtualBox Version 3.2.8 OSE or higher
  • .iso file for a Windows, Mac or Linux operating system

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Using your Internet browser, navigate to the VirtualBox website (see Resources) and download the latest version of the application to your computer. Once it has finished downloading, double-click on the application to start it up.

  2. 2

    Set up the VirtualBox VM Name and OS Type settings. In the VirtualBox menu, select the "Start" button. Type in the name for the operating system that you wish to install, then choose the operating system type and version that you will be installing. Click the "Next" button.

  3. 3

    Set up the VirtualBox Memory settings. Select the highest amount of memory that you can safely allocate toward running the operating system before you hit the red line. Then click on the "Next" button.

  4. 4

    Configure the Virtual Hard Disk for VirtualBox. Ensure that both the "Boot Hard Disk" and "Create New Hard Disk" configurations are selected before pressing the "Next" button. Then after you have reached the "Hard Disk Storage Type" section, select "Dynamically Expanding Storage," navigate forward and enter the total amount of hard drive space you wish to allocate to the operating system. Select "Finish" to complete the process.

  5. 5

    Adjust the virtual machine settings. Click the "Settings" button. Under "Video Memory," select the maximum amount of space to allocate and check the box next to the "Enable 3D Acceleration." This will maximise your display performance.

  6. 6

    Start the virtual machine, and go through the First Run Wizard configuration process. Click on the operating system that you just installed within the VirtualBox menu and select "Start."

    In the pop-up window, select "OK" to initiate the First Run Wizard, and continue on to the "Select Installation Media" section. Select the folder labelled with the green arrow, located adjacent to the listed media source. In the Virtual Media Manager, select "Add." Then find the folder where the operating system .iso file is located and double-click on the file.

    Navigate to the CD/DVD Images menu and select the .iso file for the operating system. This will tell the VirtualBox where to boot the installation file from. Then proceed through the First Run Wizard and click on the "Finish" button to complete the process.

  7. 7

    Install the operating system. Once VirtualBox has booted up the .iso file, select the "Installation" button and continue through the guided installation process. When the instillation is complete, select the option to reboot the virtual machine to finish.

    With this knowledge you now know how to boost the performance of almost any operating system running within a virtual machine on VirtualBox.

Tips and warnings

  • Always ensure that you have extra available space for the operating system's hard drive, base memory and video memory. This will allow the virtual machine to always operate at its peak performance from within VirtualBox.
  • Never relocate the folder that contains the original .iso file for any operating system you may be using within VirtualBox after its installation. If it is moved, you can expect to troubleshoot some minor problems before the operating system will function properly again.
  • Always select the "Save Machine State" option when exiting a virtual machine within VirtualBox. If you don't, there is a risk that you will lose all of your files and vital system information needed to run the operating system.

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