Virtual Machine Management
Next up in our Parallels 11 vs. Fusion 8 benchmarks is a look at virtual machine management. If you plan to use just a single virtual machine and leave it running most of the time, this section probably holds relatively little value for you. But for those users who frequently run or access lots of virtual machines, we wanted to see how Parallels, Fusion, and VirtualBox compare when it comes to boot, suspend, resume, and shut down times.
As with the earlier section for File Transfers, these tests were measured manually with a stop watch and conducted five times each. The numbers in the chart below represent seconds so, again, lower is better.
Once again, we see Parallels and Fusion trading places based on the type of activity. Parallels 11 boots Windows 10 insanely fast, in about 10 seconds, and can shut it down even quicker, at around 8 seconds. These speeds, which would seem ludicrous to a Windows user from a just a few years ago, are a product of both Parallels’ efficiency at handling boots and shutdowns, and also Microsoft’s efforts, begun with Windows 8 and continuing in Windows 10, to significantly improve boot times.
When it comes to suspend and resume functions, however, Fusion is the champ, and can get you up and running again in a suspended VM in just over 4 seconds. VirtualBox, for its part, really underscores the adage “you get what you pay for,” and takes a frustratingly long time to boot, suspend, and resume its virtual machines, with the only bright spot being a respectable second-place finish in shutdown times.
While Parallels’ fast boot times or VirtualBox’s minute-long suspend times may be noteworthy enough to sway a consumer towards (or away from) one product or another, remember that these factors only make a big difference if you use multiple virtual machines throughout the day and need to shut down or suspend one, and then boot or resume another, as quickly as possible. If you only use a single VM, booting it in the morning and suspending it at night, you may not want to shell out for Parallels or Fusion if, for example, VirtualBox’s other performance limitations aren’t a problem for you. Taking that course will save you between $50 and $80, which is a hefty price to otherwise pay for an extra minute of waiting while you suspend your VirtualBox VM.
Finally, note that, like our file transfer tests, these boot numbers are based on expected performance from a modern Mac CPU and fast flash storage. If you have an older Mac, or otherwise store your virtual machines on mechanical hard drives, you’ll see longer times for the tests above.