How to Create a Virtual Machine on Windows 10

Virtual Machine Windows 10
Let's get virtual.
Ash Ash (296)
Total time: 20 minutes 

Virtual machines are incredibly useful for testing software, troubleshooting computer issues, and just experimenting for fun. Windows 10 users have a few options when it comes to creating virtual machines. You can use the official Hyper-V software from Microsoft or use third-party applications.

If you want to use Hyper-V, make sure your edition of Windows 10 is compatible and updated to version 1709. You can check out our guide on how to verify your version of Windows for help finding this information.

Here's everything you'll need to complete this guide:

Windows 10 PC×1
Install Hyper-V

Hyper-V can only be installed on Windows 10 Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions. If you have Windows 10 Home, you won't be able to use Hyper-V and need to use a third-party application instead. You will need at least 4 GB of RAM and a 64-bit processor to run a Hyper-V virtual machine.

  1. Open the Start Menu, search for Apps and Features, then select it.
  2. Scroll until you see Programs and Features under Related Settings.
  3. On the left-hand menu, choose Turn Windows Features on or off.
  4. Check the box for Hyper-V then click OK.
  5. Restart your machine.
Hyper-V
 Photo: Microsoft

Creating a virtual machine in Hyper-V is thankfully rather straightforward.

  1. Launch Hyper-V.
  2. Select the operating system you want to run from the list. You can also choose the option to use a local installation source to use a custom OS file.
  3. Choose Create Virtual Machine.

If you can't make use of Hyper-V, you can always try third-party VM software. Here are a few popular applications to consider in your research.

  1. VirtualBox - This virtual machine platform is maintained by Oracle.
  2. VMWare Workstation - You can use the free version for personal use or upgrade to the paid Pro edition.
  3. Qemu - This VM software has a stronger learning curve but may provide the tools you need to create a virtual machine.

Not every project is going to go smoothly. Here are a few common issues and what you can do to start troubleshooting them.

Storage space

Make sure you have enough available space on your actual hard drive to make room for the virtual one. If you don't have enough space, you won't be able to create or run the VM.

Hardware requirements

Make sure your computer meets all of the necessary requirements to run the VM software. You can verify the Hyper-V requirements in more detail on the Microsoft website.

Custom image issues

If you’re using a custom image and having issues, try redownloading the file. It may be helpful to test it on third-party VM software to make sure the issue isn’t isolated to the operating system file.