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Editors' Rating:
Editors' Rating:
Average User Rating:
out of 47 votes out of 47 votes

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  • Date Added:
    Feb. 28, 2018
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Editors' Review

If you've seen The Matrix, you already know what a virtual machine (VM) is. In the movie, the Matrix is a digital world operating inside of the real world. Outside of the movie, a hypervisor is a platform that lets you operate one or more operating systems on a single computer, which comes in handy if you want to test out a new version of Windows without having to actually install it, or you need to test a suspicious app in a "sandbox" environment. VirtualBox is a popular free hypervisor app that's compatible with a wide variety of Windows, Linux, and Mac OSes. Let's see what's good and bad about it.


Free and streamlined product lineup: While VMware dominates the hypervisor industry, its constellation of products, evolving product names, price points, and license limitations can be dizzying to the uninitiated. VirtualBox, meanwhile, is always just VirtualBox, regardless of what platform it runs on or how many users you have in mind. And it's free and open source.

Easy to set up: Running one operating system inside another sounds like it would be pretty complicated, but VirtualBox has a wizard tool that will walk you right through it. If you provide the OS disc or ISO (the latter of which is the raw file that goes on an OS disc), VirtualBox can do the heavy lifting. It will detect how much system RAM and CPU threads you have available, and it makes recommendations on how much of that you should assign to the "guest" OS.

If you're switching back and forth a lot between the host and guest machines, VirtualBox can make this easier by sharing your clipboard contents between the two, and you can set up a shared folder on the guest machines to put files in. (However, VMWare makes file transfers even easier by letting you just click-and-drag them between host and guest.)

A variety of supported guest and host OSes: VirtualBox can host every version of Windows from 3.1 to 10 to Server 2016, plus MacOS and a variety of Linux and BSD distributions. Conversely, your Linux or MacOS machine can also host all of those varieties of Windows. And VirtualBox has a universal interface, so that it looks and feels the same no matter what OS it runs on. This combination of OS support and unified interface makes VirtualBox very flexible and easily recognizable.


Limited performance: A computer will frequently have two sets of memory chips: system RAM and video RAM. The latter type is found on a video card, where 1GB of memory is a common baseline. Unfortunately, VirtualBox is limited to 128MB of VRAM. Since 1,024MB equals 1GB, your VM gets a very modest amount by current standards. It's barely enough to run a modern Windows or Mac desktop. So while you can run a variety of guest machines, none of them will feel particularly snappy, no matter how capable the host machine is. This limitation is not uncommon with hypervisors, but VMware generally handles it more smoothly.

Bottom Line

For home desktops, it's hard to beat VirtualBox's price, ease of use, and OS compatibility. However, if you run a business that needs to support multiple guest machines, we'd recommend looking at VMware products instead.

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Full Specifications

What's new in version 5.2.8
  • VMM: added support for FSGSBASE, PCID, INVPCID CPU features for guests
  • VMM: fixed EMM386 issue with detecting suitable page frame base
  • Front end: Linux: prevent VM window from jumping and auto-resizing to tiny size after resizing it on HiDPI screen
  • Front end: Linux: fixed seamless regression caused by wm_class functionality
  • Front end: switched to https downloads
  • Front end: fixed crash while opening New machine wizard
  • Audio: added support for distinguishing recording sources in the PulseAudio mixer on the host when multiple VMs are running
  • Audio: various fixes for the DirectSound backend
  • Video recording: added better file seeking support and fixed playback of recorded files with certain players (e.g. Firefox)
  • Audio: various fixes for Windows guest surround setups
  • Audio: various fixes for HDA emulation
  • Serial: fixed an issue where the serial port parameters in the emulation and host serial port got out of sync
  • Storage: fixed overwriting certain INQUIRY data for the DVD/CD drive attached to a AHCI controller
  • Storage: fixed handling VMDK images created by Amazon EC2 VM export
  • Network: fixed PXE boot regression in e1000
  • Network: Added a workaround for older guests which do not enable bus mastering for the virtio PCI device
  • 3D: add environment variable to configure presenting 3D content on main thread
  • Windows hosts: fixed indiscriminate binding of NDIS5 bridged driver, that caused PPPOE malfunction
  • Windows guests: fixed incorrect function error when using shared folders in certain applications
  • Linux guests: Linux 4.15 support
  • Linux guests: fixed black screen when 3D enabled in guests
  • Linux guests: suppress setuid and setgid in shared folders
Publisher Oracle
Publisher web site
Release Date February 27, 2018
Date Added February 28, 2018
Version 5.2.8
Category Utilities & Operating Systems
Subcategory System Utilities
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 108.44MB
File Name VirtualBox-5.2.8-121009-Win.exe
Total Downloads 340,526
Downloads Last Week 806
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free
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