9 Replies Latest reply: Jan 22, 2010 4:33 AM by dwb
Suzan B. Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
I am about ready to install Parallels Desktop on my Mac Book Pro. As I am reading the manual it mentions that I could have Boot Camp also installed. Someone also made a similar comment in another posting I made. It was not clear why I should or should not. I have a few questions..

1. I do not know if the laptop came with Boot Camp pre-installed. How would I know?

2. Whether Boot Camp is installed or not, are there any advantages or disadvantages in having Boot Camp installed in addition to Parallels?

iBook
  • sig Level 8 Level 8 (35,780 points)
    1. Boot Camp Assistant is in your Utilities folder. You would need to launch it to set up a Boot Camp partition.
    2. No. None that I have seen.
  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,300 points)
    BootCamp comes with every Intel Mac so yes, you have it.

    The advantage of running Windows with Parallels Desktop (or any similar product) is that you can have Windows and the Mac running at the same time. You don't have to reboot the computer. Windows can be paused and Parallels Desktop quit then Windows can be resumed at a later date exactly where you left it. This is all very convenient. The two downsides are that you have to share the RAM and CPU with two computers. If your Mac has 2GB of RAM then your Windows computer can only have about 1GB of it. While Parallels Desktop is running Windows your Mac is a bit sluggish and Windows doesn't run at its full speed. Graphics are also slower.

    BootCamp takes care of all those disadvantages. Running Windows in BootCamp the CPU and RAM all belong to Windows. My iMac is the best Windows computer I use. The disadvantage of BootCamp is that you have to quit the Mac and then boot into Windows. When you are done with Windows you have to reboot into the Mac.

    Installing WIndows in BootCamp and then using Parallels with your BootCamp Windows installation gives you the best of both worlds. Need all the speed and RAM of your Mac for a Windows program? Boot into Windows with BootCamp. Just need to see what your webpage looks like in IE8? Just start up Parallels and run Windows there.
  • Suzan B. Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Sounds like it might be good to have both installed.

    1. Does it matter which one is installed first?

    2. Where should Windows XP be installed, in Parallels or Boot Camp?

    3. If later on I decide to keep Parallels but disable/remove(?) Boot Camp, what happens then? How does it effect Parallels and what happens to the files already installed (Windows OS, docs, apps, utilities etc.)?

    4. What is the story about snapshots (I gather its another term for backups)? Someone mentioned that, ".....you will not be able to make snapshots (backups) of the Boot Camp environment in Parallels." How can I run backups? Can I run backups in Parallels?
  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,300 points)
    Parallels can have its own installation of Windows or it can use the BootCamp installation and there are trade-offs. If you want to use BootCamps Windows installation then you only have to install Windows and your programs once which is convenient and takes up less hard drive. But if you do this, Parallels cannot pause Windows to restart it at the same spot which is a big convenience. Using the BootCamp installation you must set up BootCamp and install WIndows in BootCamp first. And if you delete BootCamp Parallels is dead.

    A snapshot isn't a true backup, it is more like a copy of the changes that have taken place since Windows was started up so that if something went wrong Parallels can roll back to where it was and (hopefully) roll back before the disaster. It is so slow and cumbersome that I just don't use it.

    I backup BootCamp the same way I'd back it up my PC - I have an external hard drive and a Windows backup program. I also have a program called WinClone that clones my BootCamp installation similar to the way SuperDuper! does.
  • Suzan B. Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Sorry, I have so many related questions. I am just not very technically savvy.

    dwb, it sound like you have both installed, yes?

    Do I need to re-format the drive to run Boot Camp? (I thought the Apple sales person mention something about this.)

    Correct me if I am wrong, I could install Windows OS, docs and apps under Parallels (and not Boot Camp). And if decide to delete Boot Camp it should not effect Parallels. Or is Parallel that dependent on Boot Camp' presence if activated? It seems like Parallels will work fine on it's own but if introduce Boot Camp into the mix then they both become somewhat entwined.

    I am not sure if I can express this thought correctly. I seem to also recall the Apple sales person mentioning that if I were to take snapshots, depending on the Boot Camp/Parallels setup (and I can't recall at all what that would be), it would not record the smallest changes only but everything including the "kitchen sink" each time I execute the snapshot. So it would be one gigantic file. Does this make any sense?

    You mentioned..."But if you do this, Parallels cannot pause Windows to restart it at the same spot which is a big convenience." I am not sure what you mean by pause.
  • JoeyR Level 6 Level 6 (8,275 points)
    The Boot Camp Utility will take care of partitioning your drive for you as well and guiding you through the process of installing Windows. If you would like to have the benefit of using Windows both through virtualization (meaning you can launch Windows while in OS X although suffering some minor performance hits) and BootCamp (which is a native installation of Windows that your system boots into... basically running exactly as any other Windows PC)you will want to install Windows through BootCamp first. You need to do this because when you set up Parallels, you will need to tell it to use the version of Windows that you have installed in BootCamp. If you don't install Windows through BootCamp first, you don't have an install of Windows to point Parallels to.

    Choosing to run Windows under Parallels only is a little easier, but you lose the ability to get full 3D acceleration. For the most part, everything else runs fine.
  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,300 points)
    dwb, it sound like you have both installed, yes?

    Yes

    Do I need to re-format the drive to run Boot Camp? (I thought the Apple sales person mention something about this.)

    Usually no. When you run the BootCamp program it will ask how much hard drive space you want to devote to Windows. ( I only run a few programs in Windows but also wanted to have some expansion room just in case so I chose 30GB. ) BootCamp will attempt to repartition your drive to give Windows that amount of space non-destructively. In some cases it cannot do so and then BootCamp will tell you that you will have to reformat the drive. I had that happen at work so I cloned my drive with SuperDuper!, ran BootCamp, restored my Mac with my SuperDuper backup, and then installed Windows.

    Correct me if I am wrong, I could install Windows OS, docs and apps under Parallels (and not Boot Camp). And if decide to delete Boot Camp it should not effect Parallels.

    Correct

    Or is Parallel that dependent on Boot Camp' presence if activated? It seems like Parallels will work fine on it's own but if introduce Boot Camp into the mix then they both become somewhat entwined.

    Parallels and BootCamp are entwined only if you choose for them to be. Parallels Desktop needs to have Windows and Windows programs on some drive and you have two choices: Install Windows via BootCamp or install Windows via a Parallels virtual drive. Parallels Desktop doesn't care which way you install Windows, it will happily work from either installation. If you have no resource hungry programs don't bother with BootCamp but if you do have a program that won't run (or won't run very well) under Parallels you'll need to install WIndows with BootCamp - why waste the disk space by also installing WIndows and your programs in a Parallels virtual drive?

    I think you are confusing SnapShots with TimeMachine. A Parallels SnapShot only backs up changes that have occurred to your Parallels virtual drive but TimeMachine will copy the entire virtual drive every time you use it.

    "But if you do this, Parallels cannot pause Windows to restart it at the same spot which is a big convenience." I am not sure what you mean by pause.

    Imagine you are running Windows, you have the web browser open on a page and you are working in a document in Word but now it's time to play a game on your Mac - trouble is your game doesn't get along with Parallels - it needs all the memory your Mac has. So you have to quit Parallels Desktop. If you are running WIndows from your BootCamp drive you'll have to shut down your programs and Windows and when it's time to get back to work you'll have to restart WIndows and your programs. But if you are running Windows from a Parallels virtual drive you can tell Parallels to pause Windows instead of shutting it down and then quit Parallels. Later you can start up Parallels and then unpause Windows - instead of taking a couple minutes to restart all your programs it will take a bit under a minute for everything to be restored exactly where it was when you paused.
  • Suzan B. Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
    Wow. I did not realize Boot Camp will actively resize the partition non-destructively. I have a 320GB. Hopefully that will be sufficient.

    I guess when I hear the word virtual, I think of information that is stored temporarily in memory (ram or free disk space) like what Photoshop or Ram Doubler does. Once you quit the application or restart the computer that information disappears. How does this relate to Parallels if at all? I mean if I install Windows OS under Parallels, does the OS (apps and docs too) get installed in the virtual memory and would it not disappear after restarting?

    If both Boot Camp and Parallels are both installed, it sounds like if I install Windows OS under Boot Camp, Parallels will be dependent on Boot Camp and vice versa. But if I install Windows OS under Parallels, and delete Boot Camp, Parallels will run fine without it.

    As for the graphics or 3D acceleration. If running Windows OS under Parallel, how much slower are we talking about. I use to have a Dell Inspiron 9300 with Nvidia Go 6800 256MB card and Intel Pentium M Dothan 730 (1.6GHz, 533MHz FSB).

    Resource hungry programs? I think at most it would MS Word on the Windows side. Maybe some DTP or photo editing program once in a blue moon. Not sure if that mean that Parallels will be sufficient. The Mac Book Pro has the standard 4GB (2x2GB). Is that enough?

    Also, if I have to run hard disk maintenance/repairs. Do I have to run separate disk utilities, one for Mac (Disk Utility) and a different one for PC (like Norton)?
  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,300 points)
    A 'virtual drive' is tech speak for a computer file that a program treats as if it is a hard drive. We download lots of programs that are delivered as disk images (they end in .dmg) and they are also virtual drives. In computer speak virtual doesn't mean 'memory' it means 'acting like'.

    Talking about Parallels Desktop's speed in terms of other computers really isn't possible because it is very program specific and even when I look at benchmark tests and compare them to real world use I sometimes shake my head. Generally speaking, Parallels is about 85-90% the speed of BootCamp except for graphics. All graphics are significantly slower than in BootCamp, even when it isn't 3D and even when it doesn't rely on graphics acceleration. I find 3D games unplayable - framerates are very low even when playing the game at the lowest demanding settings. However some programs I've thought would be fine in PD were not and others I've thought would require BootCamp did not.

    Your programs aren't on the demanding side unless you are talking Photoshop and InDesign for which there are Mac versions.

    Yes, if you want to use a disk utility program for Windows it will have to be a Windows program.

    In regard to how you install Parallels. Since you seem so concerned about what happens if you delete BootCamp - don't use BootCamp. Install Parallels Desktop. Follow the instructions for installing Windows and then install your software. If you are happy with how your programs run, great. If not, run BootCamp and install Windows with BootCamp and install the programs you want to use.

    Parallels is still happy and works with the drive you created first and BootCamp is happy. But now you have 2 copies of Windows running and that's a waste of drive space. Now you have 2 copies of Windows that need to be kept updated. That's a pain. Now you may have 2 copies of some programs which is both a waste and a pain. Now you may forget where your documents are - in Parallels or in BootCamp. That's where using BootCamp's Windows installation with Parallels is a convenience.