Tech Guides: How to Set Up a Virtual Machine
For today’s tech guide, we’re going to look at the rise of the virtual machine. While this might sound like a sci-fi movie, it’s actually a useful tool for businesses that are running out of space or resources to meet the physical demands of technology. It’s important to understand how to set up a virtual machine, for the sake of saving time and resouces.
A virtual machine is an image of a computer system that can be installed onto hardware that already has an existing computing system installed. This image is “sandboxed,” meaning that the things you do on it, from trying out a new OS to dealing with virus-infected data, is kept within that image. It won’t affect the separate computer system that is running side-by-side.
Why does that matter? For starters, it means that data recovery just got a whole lot safer. When all of your data is saved on a few remote servers, the chances of hardware failures affecting your operations, at least from a data-access perspective, are slim to none. Additionally, you can drastically increase the efficiency of your servers. You’ll be able to create a more streamlined server system with fewer capital expenses.
When setting up a virtual machine, the steps that you take are going to vary by the virtualization program that you’re using, what OS you’re installing, and your purpose in setting up a VM in the first place. In general, though, it looks something like our example below. For this, we are focusing on instructions for the Hyper V Manager, which Verus uses for both our customers and our data center.
This information can also be found on Hyper-V’s blogging platform:
To create a new virtual machine, open Hyper-V Manager and follow these steps:
- In the left pane, click on the Hyper-V host that you wish to host the new virtual machine.
- In the right-hand Actions pane, click New, then Virtual Machine to start the wizard.
- Click Next when ready.
- The first data screen asks for the name of the virtual machine and the initial location.
- If you do not check the option to Store the virtual machine in a different location, then all of the virtual machine’s metadata (XML, BIN, VSV, and second-level paging files) will all be placed in the host’s default location. This path will be visible in the grayed out text box. Checking the box allows you to override this location. If it’s never held a virtual machine before, a subfolder named “Virtual Machines” will be created in the path that you specified.
- On the next screen, you’ll be asked to choose the Generation of the virtual machine. Generation 1 operates in the traditional BIOS mode and will be compatible will virtually any guest operating system. It allows the use of “legacy” hardware like the emulated virtual network adapter and IDE hard disks. Generation 2 virtual machines use the newer UEFI standard and are only compatible with newer guest operating systems, like Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, and recent Linux distributions.
- On the next screen, you set the preliminary memory settings for the virtual machine. You only have two options: the amount of Startup memory and whether or not you wish to Use Dynamic Memory for this virtual machine. If you do not wish to use Dynamic Memory, leave the box unchecked and set the startup memory to the amount of memory that you wish the virtual machine to have. If you do wish to use Dynamic Memory, you’ll have to configure the minimums and maximums later. They will be automatically set to 512 and 1TB, respectively.
- Next, you’ll need to determine how to connect the virtual network adapter. You can leave it at Not Connected, which means the virtual machine will begin its life without any network connectivity. Otherwise, you can connect it to a virtual switch right away. Be aware that you can’t set any advanced options such as the VLAN here.
- After networking, you’ll be asked to configure the first virtual hard disk for the virtual machine. You have three options on this screen. The first is to build a new virtual hard disk file. It will always be dynamically expanding and, in 2012+, will always be VHDX (as opposed to the earlier VHD). Unlike the virtual machine placement, the destination location specified on this screen will be the exact placement of the generated VHDX file.
- The second option allows you to connect an existing virtual hard disk. It cannot be currently in use. If it is attached to another virtual machine that is currently turned off, security will be reset for this virtual machine. You cannot use this wizard to establish one of the new shared virtual hard disks; such virtual hard disks cannot be the boot disk of a virtual machine.
- The final option is to not connect a virtual hard disk at all.
- The Installation Options tab is indented in the left-hand navigation pane of the wizard for good reason: it will only appear if you chose to create a new virtual hard disk.
- The first option, Install an operating system later, creates the virtual machine with all of the previous settings and then does nothing else.
- The second option, Install an operating system from a bootable CD/DVD-ROM, allows you to select an ISO image or, for a Generation 1 VM, connect the host’s physical optical drive directly to the virtual machine. If you select this option, the image or disc will be “inserted” into the virtual machine’s virtual optical drive, and the virtual machine will be set to boot from it.
- The final option sets the virtual machine to boot from a virtual network adapter (PXE boot). If you have created a Generation 1 virtual machine, this will cause a legacy virtual NIC to be created.
- The final screen is simply a confirmation and your last opportunity to go back and make any necessary changes.
Once you click Finish, the wizard undertakes all of the options that you selected and creates the virtual machine. The wizard does not turn the virtual machine on, so you have an opportunity to make any desired modifications beforehand.
If you need additional help working with virtual machines, it pays to have experts on your side. Verus Corporation is passionate about helping our clients access reliable network solutions. Read more about our services here, and check out our blog here!