Is VirtualBox better than VMware Workstation?

In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide quick answers to key questions to optimize for SEO. VirtualBox and VMware Workstation are both popular virtualization software, but have some key differences. VirtualBox is free and open source, while VMware Workstation is paid software. VMware generally has better performance and more features, but VirtualBox provides good functionality for free. For most home users, VirtualBox will be the better option, while businesses may prefer VMware Workstation.

What is VirtualBox?

VirtualBox is a free, open source virtualization software developed by Oracle. It allows users to run multiple virtual machines (guest operating systems) on a single physical machine (host). Some key features of VirtualBox include:

  • Free and open source software with frequent updates
  • Cross-platform – runs on Windows, Linux, MacOS, Solaris
  • Ability to install and run multiple operating systems as virtual machines
  • Support for a wide range of guest operating systems including Windows, Linux, BSD, Solaris, OS/2, and more
  • Customizable virtual machines with configurable hardware settings
  • Virtual networking and network bridging capabilities
  • Shared folders to easily exchange files between host and guest OS
  • 3D virtualization support for running basic 3D applications
  • Snapshots to save VM state
  • Remote machine display protocol for remote access to VMs

As free, open source software, VirtualBox offers a lot of functionality with no licensing costs. It is popular among home users, developers, and small businesses looking for a simple, free virtualization solution.

What is VMware Workstation?

VMware Workstation is a commercial virtualization software developed by VMware. It allows users to run multiple operating systems as virtual machines on a single physical machine. Key features include:

  • Industry leading performance and compatibility
  • Support for hundreds of guest operating systems
  • Powerful virtual networking and networking editing tools
  • Virtual hardware customization and support for advanced virtual machine configurations
  • Integrated hypervisor for bare metal performance
  • Advanced 3D graphics support for gaming, CAD, and more
  • Snapshots and cloning for easy testing of software configurations
  • Remote connections allows controlling VMs from remote devices
  • Security features like VM encryption and isolation
  • Integration with other VMware products and management tools

VMware Workstation requires a paid license, but provides higher performance and more robust feature set focused on business and professional use cases.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Here is a direct head-to-head comparison between key features of VirtualBox and VMware Workstation:

Feature VirtualBox VMware Workstation
Cost Free (open source) Paid (proprietary)
Supported guest OSes Wide range supported Hundreds supported with advanced features
Performance Good Excellent
3D/Graphics Support Basic 3D support Advanced 3D/graphics support
Features Good basic features Extensive features focused on business use
Ease of Use Easy to use interface Steeper learning curve but very powerful

As the table illustrates, VMware Workstation has more extensive features, compatibility, and performance, but requires a paid license. VirtualBox is free and capable for basic use cases.

Strengths and Weaknesses

VirtualBox Strengths

  • Free and open source
  • Great for home users and testing needs
  • Multi-platform with frequent updates
  • Easy to install and configure
  • Good community support

VirtualBox Weaknesses

  • Performance not as robust as VMware Workstation
  • Limited 3D/graphics support
  • Fewer enterprise-level features
  • No official commercial-level support services

VMware Workstation Strengths

  • Industry leading performance
  • Hundreds of supported guest operating systems
  • Powerful virtual networking and device support
  • Advanced 3D/graphics support
  • Snapshotting, cloning, and rollback features
  • Security features like encryption
  • Commercial licensing and support options

VMware Workstation Weaknesses

  • Requires paid license fee per user
  • Steeper learning curve than VirtualBox
  • Doesn’t run on Linux host OS – only Windows and MacOS host OSes supported
  • Proprietary product – must rely on VMware for support and fixes

In summary, VirtualBox’s strengths lie in it being free and easy to use, while VMware Workstation provides much more robust performance and features but requires a paid license.

Use Cases and Scenarios

The best virtualization software for a given user depends heavily on their specific needs and use case. Here are some examples:

VirtualBox Makes Sense For:

  • Home and personal use
  • Testing new operating systems
  • Running old operating systems for compatibility testing
  • Education and training environments
  • Small businesses on a budget

VMware Workstation Makes Sense For:

  • Software developers needing multiple environments
  • Software testing and quality assurance
  • Running production environments or databases
  • Graphics, CAD, and engineering applications
  • IT professionals and system administrators
  • Larger enterprises and companies

For most home users who just need to run the occasional virtual machine, VirtualBox will likely meet their needs. For power users, IT professionals, and organizations needing to run more demanding workloads, VMware Workstation is a better fit.

Performance and Benchmarks

VMware Workstation consistently benchmarks faster than VirtualBox in terms of virtualization performance. Some key performance benchmarks:

  • CPU performance – VMware Workstation benchmarks ~20-30% faster
  • Storage I/O throughput – VMware Workstation benchmarks 2-3x faster
  • Network throughput – VMware Workstation benchmarks 2-5x faster
  • Graphics frame rates – VMware Workstation averages 2-3x more FPS in graphics tests

VMware Workstation achieves better performance through more mature virtualization drivers, a type 1 hypervisor, and other optimization techniques. For users needing maximum virtual machine performance, VMware Workstation is the superior choice.

Editions and Pricing

As an open source project, VirtualBox is free to download and use. VMware Workstation has two main editions:

VMware Workstation Pro

  • Commercial version with all features
  • $249 standard price per user
  • Volume and academic licensing available

VMware Workstation Player

  • Free version with reduced features
  • Unable to create VMs, restricted to running VMs already created in full version
  • Great for accessing and distributing VM environments

For full virtualization capabilities, VMware Workstation Pro needs to be purchased. But VMware Workstation Player provides a way to access VMware VMs at no cost.

Community and Support

VirtualBox benefits from being open source software with an active community. Issues can be troubleshooted using community resources like documentation, wikis, forums, and more. However, no official customer support is provided by Oracle.

VMware Workstation customers get official support benefits like 24/7 call support, email assistance, access to patches and updates, and the ability to submit enhancement requests. VMware Workstation also has extensive official documentation and community forums.

Overall, VMware Workstation provides a more robust and guaranteed level of support. But VirtualBox users can utilize the open source community for assistance.


In conclusion, VirtualBox is the superior option for home users looking for a free, simple virtualization solution. VMware Workstation has considerably better performance and features, but requires a paid license. For professional and enterprise usage where performance matters, VMware Workstation is likely the better choice.

Here are some final pro’s and con’s of each platform:



  • Free and open source
  • Great for personal use
  • Easy to get started


  • Limited features and expansion options
  • Reduced performance compared to VMware Workstation
  • No official support services

VMware Workstation


  • Industry leading performance
  • Very robust feature set
  • Official licensing, support, and updates


  • Requires paid license fee per user
  • Overkill for basic home use cases
  • Steeper learning curve

Your specific use case should drive which solution makes sense. For running virtual machines at home, VirtualBox offers plenty of functionality at no cost. But for professional usage and maximum performance, VMware Workstation is hard to beat.