VMware vs. Parallels: How Do They Compare?

Person using laptop with functional graphics around it software desktop environment

VMware vs. Parallels: How Do They Compare?

As virtualization is becoming increasingly popular, many people are looking to use it in their businesses. But, not enough people know what they’re getting with virtual machines and cloud computing or how they compare to standard computer application methods.

Parallels and VMware are two of the most popular virtualization tools today, giving business owners an effective way to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on the same machine without purchasing separate machines. Both companies produce high-quality software that helps users create and run virtual machines, but they approach things differently.

In this comparison of VMware vs. Parallels, you will learn how they stack up so that you can choose which one is right for you and your business needs.

Parallels vs. VMware: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Year Founded20081998
What is it?A software company that provides application and desktop virtualization solutions for macOS and Microsoft Windows desktop installationsA cloud computing and virtualization server management software provider
Primary UseProviding desktop virtualization solutions for macOS and WindowsProviding desktop virtualization and multi-cloud solutions for apps
PriceStarts at $79.99 per year    Starts at $149 per year
Support Available via email and chatSupport comes at an extra cost
Features– Each VM requires at least 8GB RAM and 4 CPUs and up to 128GB and 32 CPUs
– Monitor storage, network, and CPU activity across several virtual machines
– Shared, bridged, and host-only networks have different network modes
– Security features such as TPM 2.0, VM isolation and encryption, and Touch ID
-vCenter server
-vSphere High Availability
-ESXi hypervisor
– Virtual SMP
-vSphere Client
– vSphere software development kits
– vMotion
– Virtual Machine File System
– Virtual SMP
– Fault Tolerance
– Host Profiles
Booting Speed15 to 35 secondsOver 1 minute
Infographic Parallels vs VMware

What is Parallels?

Parallels is a virtual machine software that allows you to run Windows, Linux, and macOS on your computer. It is a great tool for programmers and web developers who want to test their applications before they are released. With Parallels, you can create multiple operating systems on one computer and switch between them at will.

Organizations can use Parallels to set up virtual computers running different operating systems (OSes), including Windows and Linux on macOS desktops (VMs). They may also use a single management panel to manage macOS desktops and other OSes using the company’s software.

VMware, Inc. is a California-based company that provides cloud computing and virtualization software and services.

©Michael Vi/Shutterstock.com

What is VMware?

VMware is a cloud-based virtualization platform that allows you to create a virtual machine and run multiple operating systems. It allows you to run Windows, Linux, and many other operating systems simultaneously, making it easy to test new software or work on projects in different environments.

They are a leading provider of cloud infrastructure solutions for small businesses, mid-sized enterprises, and large companies. This software helps businesses run their operations more efficiently through virtualized resources such as hard drives, RAM, CPU cores, and network ports.

VMware is also known for its tools and services that help you manage your virtualized environment. This includes the vCenter server, which gives you a centralized control panel for managing your VMs; ESXi, which helps manage VMs; and NSX, which provides network security.

VMware vs. Parallels: Key Differences

The two major virtualization tools — Vmware and Parallels — offer many similarities, but there are also some key differences between them. Below, we’ll examine some of the major differences between these two products and some key features and benefits.


Parallels has recently transitioned to a subscription service, where you must pay a yearly membership fee to obtain the program’s license. The regular home and student license costs $79.99 per year. Parallels’ pro and business editions cost $99.99 per year. There is a 14-day free trial available so you can determine if the program meets your needs.

VMware Fusion, on the other hand, has a one-time charge. Although it is somewhat more expensive than the Parallels subscription charge, the license is yours permanently once purchased. VMware Fusion 12 Player is $149 in one payment. There is also a Pro version for $199 and a Pro version with support for $241. VMware Fusion also provides a 30-day free trial of the hypervisor.

However, VMware Fusion is the only one that provides a free basic version for personal use. This can be a viable option for individuals requiring only the most basic VM features.


When it comes to performance, Parallels Desktop and VMware are pretty close. Both have a lot of features that make them great for running Windows applications.

Parallels Desktop is faster than VMware because it has better virtualization technology. When tested on the same parameters and resources, in this case, four processors and 8GB RAM, Parallels booted significantly faster than VMware. It took roughly 10 seconds to get to the Desktop, but VMware took nearly twice that long.

The same can be stated about shutting the programs. Parallels took around five seconds, and VMware took nearly twice as long.

This variation in performance speed is seen not just while starting or stopping the software. When different apps on the VM are tested, there are big speed changes. This encompasses anything from opening the browser, starting a new program, and taking virtual snapshots. Parallels is noticeably faster than VMware Fusion in all of these functions.

There is also a considerable variation in the resources used by the system. Parallels include a pause feature, so if you are not actively working in the VM, you can halt it to prevent it from using system resources. Because VMware currently lacks such functionality, the VM will continue to consume system resources even if it is in the background.

Virtualization software digital technology computer PC
Across various tests, Parallels is faster than VMware.


Ease of Use

Both hypervisors are excellent at simplifying things. You are led through every step of the procedure, beginning with installation. This makes it incredibly simple for those new to virtual machines set up.

Although both technologies are basic and straightforward to use, Parallels Desktop helps you through the process of creating your new VM slightly better than VMware. With this approach, you can have your new VM up and running within 30 minutes without changing any settings.

Parallels’ increased speed makes it a fantastic VM for regular daily use if you use simple programs and apps, such as browsers, email, and Microsoft Office products.

However, VMware may be a better alternative if you develop many server-side apps because it simply integrates with ESXi. Although not impossible, integrating Parallels Desktop with ESXi is more complex.


Support is crucial for any software, but especially for virtualization software. If you have an issue with a program, especially one you paid for, someone should be able to help you and solve the problem.

Parallels’ subscription includes assistance. You can easily contact the support team by email or the website’s chat tool. You could also utilize their phone line, although this may involve additional charges. The website’s chat option is particularly convenient and simple to use.

VMware Fusion, on the other hand, does not include support. If you require assistance, you will be charged an additional fee. The assistance provided is mostly intended for huge corporations and may be out of reach for individuals or small businesses.

parallels vs boot camp
Parallels is a virtual machine software that allows you to run Windows, Linux, and macOS on your computer

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

Pros and Cons of Parallels

You can run multiple operating systems at onceCostly annual subscriptions
It’s easy to use and customizeFree support is limited
Provides support 
Faster than VMware 
Apps operate smoothly 
Utilizes system resources well 

Pros and Cons of VMware

Easier installation and configuration of virtual machinesIt does not include customer support
VMware offers a wide range of products and servicesPerformance is slower compared to Parallels
Easy integration with ESXi    
Offers free version for personal use 
It is highly reliable 

Parallels vs. VMware: 6 Must-Know Facts

  • Parallels is most commonly used by Apple users who need to access PC-only software or troubleshoot PC-related difficulties. It is frequently used in the creation of Windows-based screencasts and technical tutorials.
  • Parallels offers support options, including email access and live chat sessions with an expert technician. For VMware, support comes at an additional cost.
  • VMware is also known for its tools and services that help you manage your virtualized environment. This includes the vCenter server, which gives you a centralized control panel for managing your VMs; ESXi, which helps manage VMs; and NSX, which provides network security.
  • Parallels is one of the quickest, easiest, and most powerful virtualization solutions, making it a favorite among many since you can obtain exactly what you want without overpaying for capabilities you don’t need.
  • Parallels has a faster booting speed (15 to 35 seconds) compared to VMware, which takes more than one minute to boot.
  • If you want to execute CPU-intensive tasks or apps that demand a lot of 3D rendering, Parallels is the best option because it offers faster booting and file transfers. VMware also provides incredibly exceptional cross-platform support in addition to legacy features.

Parallels vs. VMware: Which One is Better? Which One Should You Use?

The choice of either Parallels or VMware depends on the type of work you do, your budget, and the level of expertise you want to invest in your virtualization career. Compared to Parallels, VMware’s upgrade policy may not be as complicated. With their revolutionary features, both applications provide cutting-edge virtualization technology.

Parallels is faster if you want to run graphically heavy apps, but VMware can also be a good option. If you want to use VM for other purposes, you can’t go wrong with Parallels. Despite being the more expensive option, Parallels outperforms and runs more smoothly than VMware. It also utilizes fewer system resources. Nevertheless, both are excellent virtualization options.


VMware vs. Parallels: How Do They Compare? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which is better, VMware or Parallels?

Parallels Desktop integrates well with macOS. It is faster, more stable, and more responsive. On Apple’s operating system, it performs better than VMware. The most useful features of VMware Workstation are its DirectX support and the ability to run Microsoft Hyper-V in virtual environments, which allows users to test different configurations.

Is Parallels Desktop for Mac worth it?

Parallels Desktop is the most powerful and fast emulation software for running Windows, Linux, and even older macOS versions on Intel-based Macs. It’s the only viable solution if you need to run Windows on an Apple Silicon computer.

Can Parallels run VMware?

Parallels Desktop for Mac allows you to run Windows installations created with VMware Fusion, Microsoft Virtual PC, or Virtualbox.

How many virtual machines can I run on parallels?

With Parallels Desktop, you can install as many virtual machines (VMs) as your Mac’s hard drive will allow, and you can run as many at once as your RAM will allow.

Is Parallels the best way to run Windows on Mac?

Although VMware has improved a lot, we still think Parallels is the best way to run Windows on your Mac in 2022 for its ease of installation, speed, and the way it conveniently allows you to switch between macOS and Windows instantly.

Is installing Windows on Mac harmful?

It doesn’t matter whether you are running Windows in a virtual machine or via Boot Camp; the platform is just as prone to viruses as a physical PC running Windows. For this reason, you should consider installing antivirus software on the guest operating system, which in this case is Windows.

What are VMware Tools?

VMware Tools is a set of services and modules that enable several features in VMware products for better management of guests operating systems and seamless user interactions with them. VMware Tools has the ability to pass messages from the host operating system to the guest operating system.

Is VMware free?

VMware is free for personal use only. However, the free version for personal and educational use has limited features. For example, it doesn’t support clones and snapshots.

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