Hyper V vs VirtualBox: Understanding Their Differences

A hypervisor allows multiple operating systems (OSs) and applications to run on the same physical host, allowing organizations to consolidate IT resources, lower costs, and increase efficiency. It’s a fundamental tool in the virtualization world that powers the “anything-as-a-service” models in cloud computing.

There are several virtualization options provided by various vendors for Windows users, each with its own functionality, ease-of-use, and performance capabilities. In this post, we’ll explore the differences between Hyper-V vs. VirtualBox and why Parallels® RAS is another alternative—so you can make an informed choice.

Hypervisors: Differences between Hyper-V and VirtualBox

A hypervisor is a crucial software that makes virtualization possible. It decouples the OSs and applications from the underlying physical server, enabling it to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) as guests. The guest VMs effectively share the physical host’s computing resources, such as the processor cycles, RAM, network bandwidth, and storage.

There are two basic categories of hypervisors:


Microsoft has integrated Hyper-V with Windows 10 and Windows 11 for Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions. However, the company doesn’t provide this feature with Windows 10 or Windows 11 Home editions. To start using Hyper-V, you must enable it through the PowerShell or Windows features. Once activated, you can begin creating VMs via its Quick Create VM creation option or use a more advanced process through the Hyper-V Manager.

You can also achieve the same user experience with VirtualBox, which provides a VM creation wizard. However, although Hyper-V also integrates seamlessly with Windows-based infrastructures, it isn’t as simple to set up as VirtualBox.


Hyper-V and VirtualBox can both serve as a basis for server virtualization in small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), but they also have distinct performances that set them apart. Hyper-V provides high-performance VMs since it is a type 1 hypervisor and can access the physical hardware directly, without necessarily loading the underlying hardware’s OS.

VirtualBox, in contrast, is a type 2 hypervisor and can allow users to have quick access to the alternative guest OS alongside the primary host’s operating system. This makes it a perfect tool for end-user productivity. However, VirtualBox also needs to access the CPU, RAM, and network via the host’s OS, which has exclusive access to the physical hardware. This often introduces latency issues that end up affecting its performance.


There are a few similarities and differences between Hyper-V and VirtualBox regarding their functionalities. Let’s dive right in.

Checkpoints and Snapshots

Both platforms allow users to take an image of the VM in its current status. For example, Hyper-V uses checkpoints to enable users to save the existing state of a VM easily. The VM can revert quickly to the previous state if a problem arises due to future changes.

VirtualBox uses the same technology, albeit with a different name called snapshots, to take a VM image in its current state. The image preserves the VM, allowing users to return to the VM and continue using it from where they have left it.

File Sharing

Both hypervisors allow users to leverage drag-and-drop features between the physical host’s OS and the guest operating system. However, although shared folders are valuable tools that users can leverage to share useful files between the host and guest OSs, Hyper-V doesn’t include the feature.

Instead, it allows users to manually transfer the folders in their host OSs with PowerShell or a Windows GUI and allow specified users to access them in the guest operating system. VirtualBox, in contrast, has a built-in Shared Folders feature which users can enable to start transferring files between the host OS and guest VM easily.

Seamless Mode

Seamless mode is perhaps one of the most unique features of VirtualBox. It is a feature that causes the VM to “disappear,” creating the impression that the application running inside the guest OS is native to your physical machine. You can leverage seamless mode to switch seamlessly between your desktop and the VM. Unfortunately, Hyper-V does not have an equivalent feature.


Both hypervisors support encryption mechanisms of one kind or another. For example, Hyper-V supports encryption via the BitLocker mechanism. Users can activate this feature through the VM settings or use PowerShell. VirtualBox also supports encryption mechanisms through VirtualBox Guest Additions available to each guest OS environment.

Guest Operating Systems

Hyper-V can execute only on Windows-based OSs. Microsoft supports it with Windows 10 and Windows 11 (for Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions) for client OSs and Windows Server 2008 and onwards. You can use it to host Windows, FreeBSD, and Linux guest OSs VMs.

In contrast, VirtualBox can run on virtually all the popular OSs, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and Solaris. It also supports more guest OSs than Hyper-V, such as Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, macOS, and Solaris.

Virtual Disk Format

The virtual hard disk (VHD) and virtual hard disk version 2 (VHDX) are two popular disk formats that Hyper-V supports. These formats provide three disk-allocation types, including fixed, dynamic, and differencing. However, while VHD is an older format, VHDX is an advanced format available from Windows Server 2012 onward.

VirtualBox, on the other hand, supports virtual disk image as a native disk format. However, it also supports other disk formats such as VHD and VMware virtual machine disk (VMDK) files.

Parallels RAS: Another Alternative for Hyper-V or VirtualBox

Parallels RAS is a robust virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that organizations can leverage to deploy virtual workloads on any endpoint. These virtual workloads can be hosted on any hypervisor, including Hyper-V and VMware ESXi.

Besides these hypervisors, Parallels RAS also supports major hyper-converged infrastructures (HCI) solutions such as Nutanix Acropolis and Scale Computing HC3. This flexibility allows organizations to adopt and deploy VDI without worrying about the challenges associated with vendor lock-in.

Parallels RAS also makes it easy for IT teams to streamline IT administration tasks by deploying VMs via custom templates automatically. It is an ideal alternative for companies that want a VDI solution with enhanced performance, ease of use, and seamless user experience.

Test drive Parallels RAS today and experience its virtualization benefits for yourself!

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