During our Non-Standard Communications courses, one key take-away is the ability to run Windows inside a VirtualBox for both compatibility purposes and for security benefits. With a virtual machine running Windows 10, you have the ability to do whatever you want and clean up afterwards with no fear of destroying your computer.
Your physical computer that the VirtualBox software runs on.
Virtual Machine or Guest Machine
The virtualized environment that runs on your host machine.
Often called RAM, this has a direct correlation with how well your virtual machine will run. Most Linux distros can run comfortably at 1024 to 2048 MB of memory, while Windows 10 prefers to have at least 4096 MB of memory
The permanent place for your data. This is not necessary to configure when running live Linux. When running Windows, you need to have a storage location to have it installed.
This is the brains of your computer. Along with RAM, this has a direct correlation with how well your virtual machine performs.
A disk image file. This holds the operating system that your virtual machines boots.
A restore point for your Virtual Machine. When you take a snapshot, VirtualBox saves everything at that point in time. Later on, you have the option to restore back to that snapshot. This is very useful if you want an absolutely clean machine every time you boot up your Virtual Machine.
VirtualBox Virtual Machine Setup
10 45 minutes.
- Create New Virtual Machine
Click New in the top of the window to create a new virtual machine. This will open up a guided setup screen that will walk you through the rest of the steps to create a virtual machine.
- Name, Location and Operating System
Enter a name for your new virtual machine. If you name it Windows 10, it will automatically choose the type and version. Otherwise, you need to change the type to Microsoft Windows and the version to Windows 10 (64-bit). You can put the files wherever you want on your computer, but we’ll just keep the defaults for now.
- Memory Allocation
Choose an appropriate memory size for your virtual machine. This is coming from your real computer’s RAM, so don’t overdo it or you will slow down your actual computer. For a Windows 10 machine, 4096 MB (4 GB) is recommended, but if you don’t have that much to give, slide the bar until it is on the edge of the orange line. Whatever you do, do not take more than half of the RAM from your host machine.
- Create Hard Disk
For this tutorial, we need to create a virtual hard disk because we are installing Windows 10. If you were making a Linux virtual machine, this would not be required.
- Choose Storage Settings
Choose VDI if you only plan on using this disk image with VirtualBox. If you plan on using the disk image elsewhere, you probably shouldn’t even be reading this tutorial. Choose dynamically allocated to make a virtual hard disk up to a specified size. This makes it so you don’t waste any unnecessary space on your host machine’s storage medium.
- Choose File Location and Set Maximum Size
Specify your file location or leave it default to store it in the same location as your virtual machine files. For Windows 10, at least 50 GB is recommended for the virtual hard disk size. If you choose dynamically allocated, the file will increase in size as changes are made to the machine up to 50 GB.
- Verify Settings
Verify that all settings are correct by looking over the machine’s detail page. Click settings directly above the details to change any settings you may have missed or improperly configured.
- Change Processor Count
One thing that is recommended to change is the processor count. You should give your virtual machine as many processor cores as you can spare. This is going to increase the efficiency of virtual machine.
- Select Start-Up Disk
After starting your virtual machine by clicking the big green start arrow, you will be greeted with a start-up disk screen. You need to load this with your windows installation media that you can download here. Load it in by browsing for it on your host computer and click start.
- Install Windows 10
Install Windows 10 by following the install wizard. This can done pretty easy by just continuing to click next through all of the install screens. If it asks for an edition, you can choose whatever edition you want. The only thing that affects is what WIndows features are available. For example, here’s a list of differences between Home and Pro editions: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/compare
- Skip Activate Windows Screen
Unless you want to buy a Windows 10 license, click I don’t have a product key. It is possible to just reinstall Windows 10 every 30 days to get around activating Windows. We are not telling you to pirate Windows 10, use your own judgement.
- Wait For Windows To Install
This process could take 10 minutes to 2 hours depending on the speed of your computer. If you got your laptop from Walmart, it’s probably going to take a while.
- Setup Windows
After Windows is installed, you will be brought to Cortana running her mouth. Shut Cortana up by clicking the microphone in the bottom of the screen. The rest of the settings are self explanatory, just make sure to choose offline account instead of being tricked into creating a Microsoft account. The secret button can be found in the bottom left of the screen labeled offline account. You will also want to turn off Cortana and all of the settings under privacy settings.
- Install VirtualBox Guest Additions
After Windows is successfully installed and configured, you are going to want to install VirtualBox guest additions by choosing Insert Guest Additions CD Image under Devices. It will open up as a CD in Windows. Run and install it by going through the installation wizard. Guest Additions is going to allow you to do things like change the screen size and use the shared clipboard.
- Create Snapshots
Power off the machine by clicking the x in the top right corner and choosing Power off this machine. Click on the bulleted list icon next to the virtual machine name and choose Snapshots. Create a snapshot by clicking the take button. Name it appropriately so you remember what it was for and start the machine again. Anything done to the machine at this point will be saved in Current State and can be reverted back to the snapshot you just created at any point.
- Power Off and Restore Current Snapshot
Next time you go to power off your machine, you will have an additional option to restore to the current snapshot. This is very useful for wiping browser history, logs, temporary files and anything else you put on the virtual machine when you booted it up.
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