what is the difference between parallels and bootcamp?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by spitfyre, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. spitfyre macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008
    Hey there,
    I am planning on purchasing my first Macbook shortly, so I am new to Apple. I was wondering if anyone could explain the difference between Parallels and Bootcamp to me. I know that Bootcamp comes with Leopard, so I'm just wondering why one would want Parallels.

    Also, if you save, lets say, a word processing file or an mp3 while in Windows, will it be available to you in Leopard? I'm a bit confused about that whole two operating systems thing works. :confused:

  2. heaven macrumors 6502a


    Jun 20, 2004

  3. JLatte macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2005
    San Diego
    Boot camp runs as a 2nd partition on your hard drive. Think of it as cutting your drive into two sections, one that runs Leopard, the other that runs Windows. The thing is that with bootcamp, you boot directly into the operating system. You're either starting up in Leopard, OR you're starting up in Windows. If you run as Leopard, the computer will act as though it's the only operating system on your computer, and vice versa if you start Windows.

    Parallels (or VMWare Fusion) allows you to run a virtual instance of Windows (or whichever you want) within Leopard. Think of it as an application that runs as Windows, and you can run it inside Leopard at near native speeds of windows. The disadvantage is that if you want to do gaming or something that requires a lot of processor power, you're going to have some slight slowdowns running very intensive applications within Parallels (unless you're running on say, a quad core computer).

    Another option is installing boot camp, and creating a parallels instance that uses your boot camp as it's window mode. This way you can boot directly into windows through boot camp, OR you can access it through Leopard without having to reboot. It's not quite as snappy on the startup, but it works.

    For you since you're using a Macbook, I'd recommend Parallels if you're just going to be doing certain word processing, etc, although you can do that as well in Leopard. You can also drag and drop .mp3 files, docs, etc from Parallels straight to Leopard desktop and it will be transferred over to Leopard. Any files you open in windows while in Parallels however, will open IN windows with whatever application is set to open them.

    Hope this answers your question.
  4. spitfyre thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008

    Thanks so much for the prompt replies! It does sound like Parallels would make more sense for me, but the fact that it doesn't come with Leopard is a bummer. As a student I don't think I'll be able to add that to the tab :eek:
  5. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    Boot Camp lets you boot into Windows from startup. Everything is exactly the way it is on a PC laptop. Native speeds and everything. You choose which OS you want to work with by choosing it at startup.

    Parallels/Fusion lets you use Mac OS X simultaneously with Windows, Linux, etc. It's an application within the OS itself, and emulates the guest OS. The host OS is Leopard in this case. But you sacrifice speed, since it is emulation/virtualization. You can't play games (not recent games, only those ancient games like Halo 1, CoD 1, etc) or use intensive graphics even if you have the best gpu out there.

    One lets you boot into Windows (and only Windows). Parallels/Fusion lets you use multiple OS under Leopard. You can choose from Solaris, Linux distros, UNIX, Leopard Server, etc. The list goes on and on.

    As a side note, I've tested both Fusion and Parallels. If you decide to go with the virtualization option, Parallels is much better. No in terms of cutting edge, but it's smoother and more graceful. It dynamically adjusts itself when using the CPU. Fusion is ... just not as smooth and does not fuse together to form a single solid app. It's good, but it's very rough. Parallels has a much better UI and is much smoother. It's newer too.
  6. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    You can get an academic license for VMware Fusion, and it will run your Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine.

    More simply, if you install Windows on a Boot Camp partition, then install Fusion under OS X, you can simply point Fusion to your Boot Camp partition and start it up as a virtual machine under OS X. Works like a champ!
  7. mongrol macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2007
  8. Wolfpup macrumors 68030

    Sep 7, 2006
    From what I've heard from several co-workers, I'd go with VMWare's product over Parallels if you want to go that route. Among other things, they both think it nails the basics better (including stability), and does a better job allowing you to use your Boot Camp partition within OS X. (Handy so you don't have to install and maintain Windows twice.)

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