Online Virtual Machine – What Is It? (Free or Paid)

Do you want to experiment with an online operating system without installing it on your laptop or PC? You can utilize a virtual machine to run it, so it won’t affect your hardware and OS if you encounter any OS problems. What is an online virtual machine?

An online virtual machine is simply an online computer file. It is generally regarded as an image that behaves like an actual computer.

If you have this on your device, it is like you have created a computer inside a computer. This online computer has its own hardware, CPU, hard drive, memory, networks, and so forth.

This virtual machine is sandboxed from the actual system running the physical computer. That means the virtual machine’s software can’t breach the physical computer’s OS and corrupt the device itself.

Read on to learn more about virtual machines online, reasons for using them, their types, uses, and other essential things you need to know about them.

Online Virtual Machines – What Is It?

online virtual machine

A virtual machine online is actually an online computer file. Specifically, an image that behaves like an actual computer.

Having this on your device is like having a computer inside a computer.

This online computer has the following:

  • Hardware
  • CPU
  • Hard drive
  • Memory
  • Networks, and so forth.

Online VMs are also considered as ‘guests’ because they are created within a separate computing environment. The physical computer wherein the VM is operating is called its ‘host.’ One host can accommodate multiple VMs at any one time.

To put it simply, a virtual machine online is a software application that can execute a real-life computer’s functions and behave like it is separate from the host computer.

How Do Online Virtual Machines Work?

Online virtual machines run just like any other application in an application window. It uses the operating system of the physical computer indirectly.

The key files that constitute a virtual machine online include:

  • A virtual disk file,
  • Logfile,
  • A configuration file, and
  • NVRAM setting file.

Online VMs Create Virtual Environments

Online VMs create virtual environments that function like separate (independent) computer systems with virtual (simulated) hardware devices. They run as a process in windows of the host operating systems.

It is possible to boot an installer disc (physical CD) of an operating system using a virtual machine. The host operating system will assume and act as if it is running a physical computer. It will execute the installation and run the OS as it would on an actual computer.

Open Virtual Machine App

When you need to use this operating system, open the virtual machine app, and its window on the computer screen will appear. You can then use the virtual OS to do whatever work you need to do on your desktop or laptop.

A host refers to the original operating system that runs your computer, while a guest refers to the OS that runs inside the virtual machine is. When you create a virtual machine on your host computer, you also create a virtual hard drive where the VM OS is.

You Need to Have a Big Hard-Disk Space

You need to have a big hard-disk space on your hard drive/physical computer to accommodate the huge, multi-gigabyte file required by the virtual machine.

The virtual machine app presents the huge file to the guest OS as an actual hard drive. This arrangement saves you the work of partitioning your hard drive disk space or anything complicated.

The requirement of virtualization will add some overhead to your physical computer. Therefore, the VM’s OS will not be as fast as possible if you had installed it on real hardware. 

Not Ideal for Heavy-Duty and Fast-Acting Processing

In other words, virtual machines are not ideal for heavy-duty and fast-acting processing. Thus, it isn’t compatible with the latest Windows PC Games that are graphically demanding. 

You Can Run Multiple VMs

You can also run multiple VMs on just one physical computer. If you are a server, you can use a hypervisor to control and manage multiple operating systems that run simultaneously.

Each VM will provide its own virtual hardware consisting of a CPU, hard drive, memory, network interfaces, and other devices.

Thus, you can connect each virtual hardware to the physical hardware of the physical computer. This setup saves money since it will reduce the need for actual hardware systems, not considering the additional maintenance costs. It also minimizes power and cooling requirements.

Types of Online Virtual Machines

There are two general types of online virtual machines – system VMs and process VMs:

System Virtual Machine

virtual machine online

This platform can support sharing the physical resources between the physical computer and several virtual machines, each VM running its own OS copy.

The hypervisor takes care of the virtualization technique. It can run either on top of an operating system or on bare hardware.

Process Virtual Machine

Process virtual machine or application VM supplies a platform-independent programming environment. Thus it enables the running of a single process as one application inside a host computer. It masks or hides the information of the supporting hardware or OS.

This setup allows the execution of programs the same way as they would on any other platform. The Java Virtual Machine is an example of a process VM. It allows any OS to run Java applications as if they were inherently a part of the system.

Again, online virtual machine-what is it? An online virtual machine is a computer file. Specifically, an image behaves like an actual computer. This online virtual machine contains hardware, CPU, hard drive, memory, networks, and so forth.

Pros and Cons of Online Virtual Machines

Here are several advantages as well as disadvantages to using online virtual machines:


  • Virtual machines can provide application provisioning options and integrated disaster recovery;
  • VMs can support legacy applications. This can reduce the cost of transitioning to a new OS. For instance, if you are using a Linux VM to run a distribution of Linux as a guest OS, it can act as a host server of a computer that runs on Windows OS; and
  • These simulated machines can run several operating systems on a single physical computer. This setup saves money, time, and space.


  • Virtual machines run slower and are less efficient than a physical computer because they actually divide the storage capacity and speed capability between the physical computer and the VMs. To remedy this situation, companies are using a combination of VMs and physical computers to achieve balance in their operations; and
  • Computing performance can be unstable when running multiple VMs on a single physical computer. VMs and physical computers’ infrastructure requirements must be met to maintain computing efficiency and performance.

Uses of Online Virtual Machines

Here are some of the more important practical applications of online virtual machines:

1. Try New Operating Systems

Virtual machines will allow you to try new operating systems without worrying that they will infect or corrupt your computer’s original OS.

Online virtual machines offer a great opportunity for software and app developers to create and test new and unreleased operating systems, run software and apps, access data infected with viruses, and create OS backups.

2. Backup Your Current System

If you want to improve your current OS to a new one, you can use a virtual machine online to create a backup of your OS. If something goes wrong while upgrading the OS, you can use the VM backup to restore the original OS and get your computer running again.

3. Test Software

If you are into software development and focused on web design or web development, you can try your software’s efficacy by testing them on virtual machines.

VMs are actually just files, so you can copy them or back them up. You can also burn them on DVDs and ship them to your associates who need fully configured systems.

4. Store Legacy Systems

free online virtual machine

If you operate a data center or an office, you have legacy OSs that you can’t throw away. Perhaps you have saved copies of them in old storage boxes. With an online virtual machine, you can make a P2V transfer.

This is just a physical to virtual conversion in which the legacy systems are turned into “images” and copied as files on a virtual machine. Anytime you require them, open them through the online VM.

5. Recovery from Disaster of Small Businesses

If you have an app that you are using to host a couple of web servers, you may need a virtual machine as a safety precaution. Your site will be forced out of the air if something unforeseen happens and you don’t have a virtual machine.

If you have a VM, you can instruct your people to buy a server from a server merchant near them, and you can send emails to them with copies of your images (hard drive). In a short time, everything will be configured and their sites running again.

6. Set Up an Office Fast

If you need to build a retail outlet at a certain location quickly, you will need a place to organize your startup activities. You will require an office to issue your instructions to the people responsible for setting up the store.

They will need a mail server, a file server, a print server, and a couple of desktop systems to work efficiently. Your staff can be up and running if you get a server from a local computer merchant and give your people a DVD copy of your images or a hard drive.

Pretty soon, you will have everything configured, and everything will be up and running. It’s just like you have used emergency management logistics to set up the store fast.

7. Server Visualization

These virtual machines have been used traditionally for server visualization. They have enabled IT personnel to improve efficiency and combine their computing resources. VMs were also used to execute specific tasks that are regarded as too risky to perform in the host’s environment.

These tasks include testing operating systems and accessing data that are infected by viruses. Even if the virus corrupts the software that runs the virtual machine, it won’t damage the host computer’s OS.

8. Test Newly Created Applications

Online virtual machines are also used to test newly created applications since they operate in a sandboxed environment making it safer for the host computer.

They are also useful in running software that requires a different operating system. You can also deploy VMs to satisfy different requirements of processing power.

Free Online Virtual Machines

In the beginning, you may want to start with a free online virtual machine to enable you to try it first and see how it will help your operations.

Online Virtual Machine – Free:

1. OpenStack

A popular free online virtual machine is OpenStack. It is open-source, so it is absolutely free. This is ideal for those who are just starting to use virtual machines. Being free, it does not contain all the features that you may need or want in the future.

2. VMware Player

If you’re looking for an online Windows virtual machine or an online Linux virtual machine, look no further than VMware Player for Windows or Linux. It is a basic virtual machine that is also completely free.

After using it for a while, you may want to upgrade to its paid VMware Workstation app for a certain subscription fee.

3. VM Offered by Google, Microsoft, and Amazon

Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are offering paid VM platforms. Their VMs are well known for their good performance. When the right time comes, you can look them up to see which one could give you the best for what you require.

Conclusion: Online Virtual Machine – What Is It?

A virtual machine that you can access on the web is simply an online computer file. It is usually called an image that behaves like a real computer. In other words, a virtual machine online enables you to create a computer inside a computer.

This online virtual computer has its own hardware, CPU, hard drive, memory, networks, and so forth. It is also a sandboxed system. That means it operates only within its computing environment. It cannot interfere and affect the OS and network of its host computer.

Again, some of the uses of an online virtual machine include the following:

  1. Try New Operating Systems
  2. Backup Your Current System
  3. Test Software
  4. Store Legacy Systems
  5.  Recovery from Disaster of Small Businesses
  6. Set Up an Office Fast
  7. Server Visualization
  8. Test Newly Created Applications

And some of the free online virtual machines you can use include the following:

  1. OpenStack
  2. VMware Player
  3. VM Offered by Google, Microsoft, and Amazon