VMware 3.1 vs Parallels 6

December 18, 2010 at 9:52 pm Leave a comment

I’ve used VMware workstation since version 2, back in the late 90’s on my Windows box (before I used Macs).  Soon after the Intel Macs came out, Parallels hit the Mac scene, a product which was similar to VMware Workstation, but with a Mac flavor.  Since I was a big believer in VM tech, I got it, and was pretty much disappointed with the initial version of Parallels.

Flash forward a few years.  I’ve been a long time user of VMware Fusion.  Each time a new version of Parallels comes out, I consider trying it again…  I’ve managed to avoid it, but yesterday, I bit the bullet.  They have a competitive upgrade deal going on, so I decided to try it out again.

First, my VM usage pattern.

1.  I have my Boot camp VM up virtually all the time.  Not because I have a ton of Windows only apps that I must have access to all the time, but I have one that I “kick off” just about every day that runs for an hour or two.

2.  I have a 2nd VM that runs our Switched-On Schoolhouse server.  SOS is an app that my daughter uses for home schooling.  This VM runs off of a iSCSI connection to my ReadyNAS Pro.  This way, VMware can do snapshots much faster than if I ran the VM off of a network share.  Auto-Protect is a must-have feature here, because if I lose my connection to the share I can end up with a corrupt VM.  Auto-Protect takes snapshots every hour keeping the last few, one from a day ago, and one from a week ago (though the numbers and distribution of hours/days/weeks vary depending on how many snapshots you tell it to keep).  I’ve recovered with Auto-Protect a few times and it’s always worked out great.  It also helps that I have UPS’s on just about every piece of network gear, my iMac, and the NAS.

Performance on VMware 3.1:  I have a few complaints.  Audio played through the VM seems to sometimes cause problems with the audio (in general) on my iMac.  Not sure why, but I’ll end up with flash videos where the audio isn’t right (on the Host machine).  Streaming video from Hulu (in the VM) is not smooth either – I’m assuming other streaming video sources suffer from the same issue on VMware.

Conversion to Parallels was smooth, but took some time…  I started my Boot Camp VM up, and it took probably 10-15 minutes to get it to the point that I could start it up.  Similarly, converting my SOS VM took about 8-10 minutes.  Afterwards, both VMs worked without any issue, though I did have to re-activate Windows 7 for my Boot Camp VM.

With VMware, I ran my VMs in windows, forgoing the fancy integrated features VMware offers.  With Parallels, I still keep the SOS VM in a window, but I sorta like having Boot Camp in “Coherence” mode.  Still getting used to it, though.

In looking at the features, Parallels seems to have their own “Auto-Protect” feature, called “SmartGuard”.    They also have a “compress” feature, whereby it appears you can automatically compress your virtual disks (unless you have snapshots created for the VM).  Other than that, they look pretty close on features.

So far, Parallels seems a little smoother than VMware.  I could actually play a video from Hulu smoothly, whereas the process was jumpy under VMware.

I’m going to stick with Parallels for a while and see how it goes…  So far, it seems a little better than VMware 3.1.  Until VMware’s next release, I’m guessing…

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Entry filed under: Mac.

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