The Differences Between Type 1 vs. Type 2 Hypervisors with Pros and Cons

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The Differences Between Type 1 vs. Type 2 Hypervisors with Pros and Cons

Key Points

  • Type 1 hypervisors run directly on the host hardware, resulting in better performance compared to Type 2 hypervisors.
  • Type 1 hypervisors are best suited for enterprise-scaled deployments and thin clients, while Type 2 hypervisors are commonly used to provide additional functionality to servers and for testing purposes.
  • Type 1 hypervisors are more secure as they prevent bad actors from escaping the virtual machine and accessing the host system, while Type 2 hypervisors can be exploited to reach the host operating system.
  • Examples of Type 1 hypervisors include Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Linux-based KVM, and Citrix’s XenServer, while VirtualBox and VMware Fusion are examples of Type 2 hypervisors.
  • Choose Type 1 hypervisors for high performance and security, and Type 2 hypervisors when physical resources are limited.

Choosing between a Type 1 vs. Type 2 hypervisor might be a struggle for many in the IT industry. Both types of hypervisor function as a means of providing additional functionality to a computer. However, Type 1 and Type 2 have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re in a position where the usage of a hypervisor is called for, then it helps to know which one will get you the best results. Some use cases for a Type 1 might not be adequate for running a Type 2. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at both types to see what their strengths are. As well as provide some examples of both.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Hypervisor: Side-by-Side Comparison

Type 1 HypervisorType 2 Hypervisor
How does it run?Directly on host hardwareAn application on the host operating system
What can be virtualized?Different operating systems, server-based operating systemsServer-based operating systems
Use CaseSmaller operations, hobbyist, and research purposesSmaller operations, hobbyist and research purposes
PerformanceRuns directly on host hardwareRuns in a virtualized environment as an application on the host operating system
How difficult is it to deploy?Easy with technical know-howAs simple as installing an application
SecurityNot prone to host operating system exploitsTypically run in sandboxed environments, but can be exploited to reach the host operating system

Both types of hypervisors have their place but have vastly different use cases. Figuring out what is best suited for a task will vary depending on the intended usage of the VM itself.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Hypervisor: What’s the Difference?

type 1 vs. type 2 hypervisor
Hypervisors can provide additional operating system functionality to a computer.


When it comes down to Type 1 vs. Type 2 hypervisor usage, they both accomplish the same overall task. Where they differ is in their overall deployment.

Performance Concerns

Type 1 hypervisors run directly on the host hardware, and as such users will notice maybe a 10 to 15% performance loss compared to running the virtualized OS in a software environment. As it utilizes the native hardware of the host machine, performance is great on Type 1 hypervisors.

Given that a Type 1 hypervisor will use the host hardware, however, it does require the host hardware to be performant and have resources available directly for the VM to access.

Type 2 hypervisors run as a sandboxed environment, and don’t get native access to the host hardware. As such, they aren’t suited for tasks where performance is absolutely required.

Resources from the host machine are provisioned at run time, but it isn’t operating in a similar fashion to a Type 1 hypervisor. As such, performance is drastically reduced compared to running an operating system on native hardware.

Use Cases

Type 1 hypervisors are best suited for enterprise-scaled deployments. A common use for this type of hypervisor is in the usage of thin clients. A thin client itself might only be using the bare minimum resources needed to boot up, but users will be assigned a Type 1 VM from a pool of VMs.

As such, they get close to the equivalent performance of a standard desktop or other computer while the organization is spending far less on computers.

Type 2 hypervisors see common usage as a means of providing additional functionality to servers. Servers are capable of running multiple functions at the same time, but this isn’t a good practice. By dividing tasks up, the server gets to be versatile while segmenting functions.

It is also a great way of testing things in a controlled environment, like IT personnel testing the latest operating system without risking running it on a production computer.

When is One Better Than Another?

So, with all this in mind which is better when it comes down to Type 1 vs. Type 2 hypervisors? That will greatly depend on your overall aim for deploying the VM itself. If you’re a home user and want to test a new operating system, then a Type 2 hypervisor can do the job just fine. You’re typically not looking for high performance in this instance.

Type 1 hypervisors excel at providing high performance, and as such work better in environments where powerful server hardware can be leveraged. Servers have large pools of RAM, multiple CPUs, and a fair amount of storage.

As such, a Type 1 hypervisor is best served in an environment where security is paramount but desktop levels of performance are still needed. Some enterprises will utilize thin clients, as previously mentioned, and use multiple servers to act as the actual power needed to run tasks.

Now, you can certainly deploy a Type 1 hypervisor on your home computer. If you’ve got a fast enough PC, it can effectively act as a dual-booted machine without having to give up the core functionality of your host operating system.

Less powerful machines won’t benefit from this, however, and are better suited using Type 2 hypervisors for home lab or research purposes.

Security Concerns

Type 1 hypervisors are generally a more secure solution, which is why they are preferred for enterprise purposes. While the host machine is giving up physical resources to run the VM, bad actors can’t readily escape the VM to gain access to the host system. This makes for a more secure deployment when VMs are actually needed, but as mentioned there is a far heavier cost in terms of physical hardware.

Type 2 hypervisors run in sandboxed environments, which are generally secure. That said, bad actors can get access to the host operating system if they’re able to exploit the constraints of the container. As you can imagine, this leads to a worst-case scenario where a hacker gets access to the host operating system.

Type 2 hypervisors are typically secure, especially if the container system is kept up to date. However, if security is a supreme concern, there should be other systems in place to make sure valuable resources aren’t readily accessible on the host machine.

Examples of Each

Type 1 hypervisors are plentiful in the world of computing. Implementations include Microsoft’s Hyper-V, the Linux-based KVM, Citix’s XenServer, and a host of others. Typical enterprise deployments will likely rely on Hyper-V or VMWare’s ESXi hypervisor. ESXi is unique in being a cloud-deployed Type 1 hypervisor.

This provides companies the means of virtualizing multiple servers without needing to build out the infrastructure needed to build out a server farm.

Type 2 hypervisors are equally common, with VirtualBox being one of the more prominent free solutions. VMware also has options in this field, with VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation being popular choices for Windows and Linux environments.

Open source hypervisors are typically going to be Type 1 hypervisors, with KVM being the most popular choice. You’ll also find other choices like QEMU and Red Hat’s own virtualization suite, which both are Type 1 hypervisors.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Hypervisor: Closing Thoughts

type 1 vs. type 2 hypervisor
Hypervisors are useful for lab work for IT students.


There really isn’t competition when it comes down to Type 1 vs. Type 2 hypervisor usage. Both have their place in common usage. If you’re looking to do your own research or experimenting with additional operating systems, then a Type 2 is great to cut your teeth on.

If you’re a Linux user looking to take advantage of Windows for gaming, then a Type 1 hypervisor could fit the bill quite ably. There are multiple uses for both, and as such it is more a matter of what works best for the situation.

In short, use Type 1 hypervisors when performance is a must, use Type 2 hypervisors for when physical resources aren’t plentiful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hypervisors needed for running a VM?

Yes, a hypervisor is required to actually access and use a virtual machine.

What is the most common hypervisor to use?

For home users, it’d likely be a toss-up between KVM, Hyper-V, and VirtualBox. Business use greatly differs, you’d likely see things like Hyper-V, VMware products, and a slew of other solutions.

Can you use VMs for gaming?

You could use a Type 1 hypervisor to play games, you’d assign a GPU and whatever other resources as needed to a Windows VM image.

Are VMs common in business use?

They can be, depending on the needs of an organization. Small businesses might see zero need for them.

Can all operating systems run a hypervisor?

All desktop operating systems have a means of running a hypervisor of some sort. There may be some exceptions for Type 2 hypervisors on something like FreeBSD, but Type 1 hypervisors are present.

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