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Parallels Desktop Competitors and Alternatives

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Read reviews of Parallels Desktop competitors and alternatives

JD
Network Engineer at a government with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Rock solid, more flexible than other solutions, and good support

Pros and Cons

  • "The whole point of it is to run Windows VMs on a Mac. This is the most valuable feature. There is snapshotting, but we don't really use that. The Pro version allows me to actually attach to the Windows ESXi infrastructure at the backend, and I'm able to create a session that I can attach to the VMware hooks at the backend, so one is running a VM, and the whole operating system is running on the actual Mac. The other one is literally a frontend to the VMs that are running in the infrastructure at the backend. These are the two main features I use."
  • "The way they handle snapshotting can be improved. One time, I moved a machine from one to another, and I tried to pull it up on the second machine, but it didn't work. This was because I had not cleaned up the snapshot before I deleted it and moved it across. So, when I tried to pull it up, it wouldn't let me bring it up. The backups for the VMs themselves can also be improved. I pretty much have to rely on Windows backups and not something on VMware. That's where it needs improvement. I am able to upload from my Fusion into the ESXi easily. I'm able to spin something up on Fusion and push it into the big arena, but the reverse is not as easy, that is, trying to pull something down from that. I would love to have a functionality where I could pull something from the VMware infrastructure into Fusion, but I'm not sure if I can take something from ESXi and pull it into Fusion."

What is our primary use case?

We're on Windows VM. We use it to run Windows machines on Mac. We are using the latest version.

How has it helped my organization?

It allows us to use pieces of equipment other than the Mac equipment in order to do our job. There are certain things that I can do on a Mac that I can't do on a Windows PC. I am able to support many Mac users with it.

I used to use a Windows desktop, and now I use a Mac desktop with a Windows VM on it. I like to have a backup. When I shut something down, and as long as I remember to get rid of the snapshots first, I can copy it and run it anywhere, which is not possible on a pure Windows desktop. You have to back it up or clone it. If I shut down the Windows VM and make a clone of the disk on the Mac, I can go somewhere else. I'll just boot the Mac from that. I've been able to do stuff that used to be on my desktop at work. When the hard drive failed on that, I'd already made a clone on it, so I was able to boot up under the Mac. It is not a capability of VMware Fusion. It is the capability of the Mac and the Mac OS. However, because I use VMware Fusion to run the Windows OS inside the Mac OS, I survived a hard drive crash. I was able to just go over to Mac and have an SSD on the outside using a Thunderbolt cable. I could just write to that disk. When I was done, I shut it down and brought it into work. I had the exact same desktop back and forth.

What is most valuable?

The whole point of it is to run Windows VMs on a Mac. This is the most valuable feature. There is snapshotting, but we don't really use that.

The Pro version allows me to actually attach to the Windows ESXi infrastructure at the backend, and I'm able to create a session that I can attach to the VMware hooks at the backend, so one is running a VM, and the whole operating system is running on the actual Mac. The other one is literally a frontend to the VMs that are running in the infrastructure at the backend. These are the two main features I use.

What needs improvement?

The way they handle snapshotting can be improved. One time, I moved a machine from one to another, and I tried to pull it up on the second machine, but it didn't work. This was because I had not cleaned up the snapshot before I deleted it and moved it across. So, when I tried to pull it up, it wouldn't let me bring it up. 

The backups for the VMs themselves can also be improved. I pretty much have to rely on Windows backups and not something on VMware. That's where it needs improvement.

I am able to upload from my Fusion into the ESXi easily. I'm able to spin something up on Fusion and push it into the big arena, but the reverse is not as easy, that is, trying to pull something down from that. I would love to have a functionality where I could pull something from the VMware infrastructure into Fusion, but I'm not sure if I can take something from ESXi and pull it into Fusion. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for more than 12 years. It was version 3 when I started to use it. I use it on a daily basis both at home and professionally.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty rock solid.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. We get a new Mac, we put it on there, and it is done. 

How are customer service and technical support?

When I have an issue, they're very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used Parallels before. We switched to VM Fusion because it is a part of the whole VMware infrastructure. If I added something in Parallels, I have to convert it to go over. 

How was the initial setup?

It is pretty much straightforward if you've got a single user on the box. If you have got more than one user on the box, then it gets a bit complicated, but it is generally pretty easy and straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Starting with version 12, it is now free on a Mac for personal use. Fusion Pro has a cost. 

What other advice do I have?

Apple is now going for its own chips. They are not going to use Intel chips anymore, and right now, both Parallels and Fusion aren't ready to do that because that chip is an ARM thing, so they can't do Windows on the new Mac mini M1s till they get that straightened out. If you have got an Intel Mac, you're good. 

My advice right now would be to download it for free. Use that instead of a VirtualBox or some of the other free stuff because it is more flexible than other solutions. There is support. There are tons of message boards and a lot of stuff out there about this solution.

I would rate VMware Fusion an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Get our free report covering VMware, VMware, VMware, and other competitors of Parallels Desktop. Updated: October 2021.
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