I need to virtualize some Windows applications (I will use Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion). I have to options:

  • To install Windows in a partition using Boot Camp and virtualize this partition from Mac OS.
  • To create a virtual hard drive, install Windows in it, and virtualize it from Mac OS.

I know that if I proceed with the first option, I will be able to boot into Windows if I want, and the changes made will be bidirectional.

But, my question is: What method offers more performance, virtualize a Boot Camp partion or virtualize a virtual hard drive? I don't think, I will need to natively boot Windows. So, that is not an advantage for me.

EDIT: Ok, I did some tests and I can tell you a virtual hard drive feels way faster than a bootcamp partition. So if you really don't care about natively booting Windows, create a virtual hard drive. Besides speed, you will gain the very handy suspend and wake from suspend capability.

  • It will depend on the app and is the difference significant - The only way to see if it matters for you is to try it
    – mmmmmm
    Sep 6, 2013 at 12:46
  • In both cases the app is virtualized by the same virtual machine. What only changes is the location (virtual disk vs boot camp partition and maybe special operations in the second case)
    – Daniel San
    Sep 6, 2013 at 12:49

2 Answers 2


As I state above and based on my own tests, running Windows in a virtual hard drive is faster than doing it from the Boot Camp partition.


Bootcamp will offer better performance, although it's questionable if you'd notice the difference.

Here's one reason why this would be true:
* Bootcamp has its own partition and filesystem (usually NTFS). There is a small translation overhead that OS X has to do to access the Bootcamp partition (which is an MBR partition sitting inside the main GPT partition layout for the Mac).
* In the case of a virtualized hard drive within OS X, you'd have an NTFS file system (for Windows) sitting on top of an HFS+ file system (used by your Mac). HFS+ is kind of primitive in design, and one of the limitations is a "global lock on the file system for file system metadata structures", which restricts file system access to one process at a time. This means the applications running on OS X would add to the overhead of Windows (and its programs) accessing the filesystem, creating a higher contention for the drive.

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