Parallels vs Boot Camp: How Do They Compare?

parallels vs bootcamp

Parallels vs Boot Camp: How Do They Compare?

Are you one of those people who have been using Mac as their primary system for years? Are you also one of those people who have always wanted to use Windows on Mac but couldn’t because it seemed too complicated? Have you heard about Parallels vs Boot Camp and you’re wondering what they do?

If yes, then you’ll be glad to know that it is now possible for Windows to run smoothly on Mac without the need to purchase a separate PC. Parallels Desktop for Mac and Boot Camp are the two applications that enable this functionality.

Parallels Desktop is a software that provides hardware virtualization for Macintosh computers with Intel processors. Whereas, Boot Camp is a multi-boot utility included with Apple’s Mac OS X that assists users in installing Microsoft Windows Operating Systems on Intel-based Macintosh computers.

Parallels vs Bootcamp: Side-by-Side Comparison

Boot CampParallels
Bootcamp was created by Apple Inc.Parallels was created by Parallels Inc.
A multi-boot program is included with Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X and assists customers in installing Microsoft Windows Operating Systems on Macintosh systems that Intel powersA set of software that allows Macintosh systems with Intel CPUs to benefit from hardware virtualization
Assistant software for dual booting systemsHypervisor
Also known as Boot Camp AssistantAlso known as Parallels Desktop for Mac
Released in 2016Released in 2018
Infographic Parallels vs Boot Camp

Parallels vs Bootcamp: What’s the Difference?

Parallels and Bootcamp are software applications that allow users to execute Microsoft Windows operating system on any Mac device. But, there are a few important differences between the two.


parallels vs boot camp
Parallels is based in Bellevue, Washington.

©Parallels, Inc., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Parallels 10 has the ability to move applications between the host and guest, which is called application blending. The host is OS X, and the guest is Windows. This makes things much faster, since you can access both OS X and Windows on the same machine.

If you have a need to run Windows applications on your Mac and they are compatible, then this is definitely the best choice. When it comes to speed, Parallels is at the top of the list.

Boot Camp does not have the same ability to move applications between Windows and OS X since there is no blending for this version. Instead, you have to move between devices.

The inability to move and access apps at the same time means you have to shut off one device. Another speed issue is that Boot Camp does not support Windows 7, so there are no updates for this version.


The Parallels program is much more expensive than Boot Camp because you have to buy the entire software for this option. The price can range from $79.99 to $139.99, depending on your version and whether you have a student discount or not.

But keep in mind that as long as your device meets the qualifications, you will qualify for a free upgrade from previous versions each time there is an update with new features and fixes released by Parallels.

The Bootcamp program is free, which means that you will not have to pay anything. However, there are a few requirements that you need to meet, such as having enough hard drive space. Bootcamp also has updates that are rolled out with each new version of Windows, and there are no upgrade costs for a new version.

Guest OS Support

In addition to not being able to purchase the entire Parallels software for this option, you will also not receive any updates from Parallels with new features and fixes. This means that if there is an update for Windows and you choose to move over to Windows 10, then you will be stuck without anything new or updated. There are several versions of Windows that you will be able to access with Parallels, though, including Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Bootcamp software is more likely to receive updates from Apple because it is part of the Mac operating system. There are no versions of Windows that you can run on Bootcamp, but you will receive any new features and fixes to the software in the form of updates.

Virtualization Support

parallels vs boot camp
Boot Camp is a free utility in macOS.

©http://i1-news.softpedia-static.com/images/news2/Apple-Explains-What-its-Latest-Bluetooth-Update-Is-for-2.jpg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Parallels supports Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 and Server 2008R2, 2012R2, 2016, and 2019. It also works with Linux and Chromebooks (even the newest version of Chrome OS). Boot Camp does not share this ability, which may be a reason why so many people go with Parallels.

Bootcamp is also not able to run all versions of Windows because it is built into OS X. There is no support for older versions of Windows, or even Linux. However, if you need to run these operating systems, Boot Camp software is one of the best options to consider.

Device Eligibility

Most Parallels users are Mac owners. They have MacBooks to run Windows because they may want to access certain applications or games that are not available on Mac. Parallels will work with any Mac device as long as you have the requirements for the program. You will also need to have a minimum of 4GB of RAM and 20GB of hard drive space.

If you want to use Bootcamp on your Mac, then you must own a MacBook or MacBook Pro in order to do so. The main idea behind this is that Bootcamp is built into OS X so it is able to work well with a Mac that Apple itself has built.

There are a few other requirements, including a minimum of 4GB of RAM and 20GB of hard drive space, but these are fairly standard for most Mac users.


Parallels is able to run many types of applications very well because the software is focused on virtualization, which means that you do not need to be limited to only running Windows applications.

Unlike Bootcamp, you will not be limited to only one guest OS. This means that you will be able to run Windows and OS X at the same time, as well as access other Linux operating systems.

Bootcamp is focused on running one guest operating system at a time and does not support many applications. It is also limited in the types of applications that you can run, including Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks. It is not recommended for running more than one operating system at a time.

Parallels vs Bootcamp: Pros and Cons

Pros of ParallelsCons of Parallels
Speed and performanceSpecific hardware requirements (you will need to buy the software in order to run it on your Mac)
Easy to use interface (it is also easy to transfer Windows applications back and forth between OS X and Windows)Expensive (the software costs around $79.99, more than other available options)
Access to all applicationsHigh storage requirements (the virtual disk space can fill up quickly if you do not keep track of it)
Compatibility with MacCompatibility issues (if you want to use a specific Windows application, then there is no guarantee that Parallels will be able to run it without problems or errors)
Built-in support (you can chat with a representative online or through email if you need assistance)Have to pay for upgrades or move over to a newer operating system version
Pros of Boot CampCons of Boot Camp
More functional than Parallels(you can run multiple operating systems at once, each being full-screened)More time-consuming
Less expensive than ParallelsRequires more memory (you will need at least 4GB of RAM on your computer in order to run Boot Camp)
Windows and OS X integrationPerformance will decrease with multiple operating systems
No need to partition the hard driveMore difficult to manage
Easier to updateOther problems may arise

Parallels vs Bootcamp: 9 Must-Know Facts

  1. Boot Camp is a utility that comes with Mac OS X, which allows running Windows on a Mac.
  2. The most recent version of Boot Camp, which supports Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, is 4.2. It supports two architectures, namely 64-bit and 32-bit.
  3. Parallels is a software that provides hardware virtualization for Mac computers. This means that for each user, a computer is installed which has two processors, and all the main components are shared as one computer.
  4. Parallels is available for Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan) and 10.12 (Sierra).
  5. Boot Camp was first introduced for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, but there was no version for OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and 10.7 Lion.
  6. OS X 10.4 Tiger supported the installation of Windows XP but did not support hardware drivers.
  7. Parallels is a software that provides hardware virtualization for Mac computers. It is a hypervisor.
  8. Parallels is called Parallel Desktop for Mac by some users.
  9. Boot Camp Assistant is a multi-boot utility included with Apple Inc. Mac OS X assists users in installing Microsoft Windows Operating Systems on Intel-based Macintosh computers.

Parallels vs Bootcamp: Which One Is Best?

Boot Camp is a free utility that comes pre-installed on every Mac computer. You do not have to pay anything to start using it. You need to partition the hard drive, but you can always adjust the partition size later if you find that you’re running out of space.

Parallels is a paid software that costs $79.99 for the license, but it does come with a one-year subscription for Parallels Access. Parallels Access lets you access your Mac files and applications remotely on other Windows and Mac computers.

If you are interested in installing Windows on your Mac but don’t want to sacrifice much space, test out Bootcamp and partition your drive before deciding to buy Parallels.

Parallels allow you to run both OS X and Windows at once, whereas with Bootcamp, you can only run Windows. If you find yourself switching back and forth between operating systems a lot, Parallels is definitely the better solution for that.

In truth, it seems clear that Parallels is the best option for most people planning on installing Windows on their Mac. This is because of its ability to run Windows and OS X at the same time. However, you will still have to buy Parallels to start using those features.

Parallels is certainly not a great deal for those who have an older Mac, but it gets the job done and won’t take up much room on your hard drive – if you can get it to work.


Parallels vs Boot Camp: How Do They Compare? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do I have to buy the Parallels software?

No, there is free virtualization software out there. These are programs that allow you to run Windows and other operating systems within a separate window on your Mac.

Do Windows programs run just as well on Parallels as they do on a standalone PC?

For the most part, yes. Unless a technical program requires specific hard drive architecture or RAM requirements, many Windows programs will run just fine in a virtual environment.

Can I import programs from my Windows desktop using Parallels or other virtualization software?

Yes, you can easily import all of your Windows files, documents, music, and pictures.

Is file transfer the same as when using Boot Camp?

It is about the same. You can copy files from your Windows computer to the Mac and easily move them back and forth.

Can I use Boot Camp on different Macs?

Yes, you can install Boot Camp on any Mac that has a free hard drive.

How much does upgrading my hard drive to 4GB cost to upgrade?

That is going to vary by computer model and the speed of your computer. You might be able to find it online or call Apple directly.

To top