Relevant to: Mac Users, Realtors, Gamers, and that one time you need a Windows application.
Read Time: 4 minutes

The Question:

Hey, is Parallels (an application for running Windows and more on a Mac) worth getting? Does it mess up the pristine functioning of the Mac OS, and turn it into PCesque problems? Also, does it take up a ton of space?
Thanks, Bobby
It’s a question I get all the time. Usually the asker is holding onto some legacy Windows program, they’re into gaming, or just like knowing they can run Windows but don’t want to give up the quality and stability that Apple provides. That’s the context. Sometimes the answer is situational, sometimes it’s clear, but it’s not hard to figure out. Below is a real life breakdown you can use to decide, is Parallels worth it?

The Answer:

The short, most likely answer: No, don’t do it. It may seem a bit quick to snap to that judgement, but after 10 plus years of working with the Mac and ways to emulate Windows on it, there are only a handful  of people I’ve ever known to use it even sparingly.

The Breakdown:

No, Parallels doesn’t messup the Mac OS system at all, it keeps the Windows side self contained.

It will roughly take up 5-8GB plus whatever Windows software you are looking to install like Outlook, Powerpoint, etc.

Consider Parallels IF:

  • You’re running at least a Core 2 Duo processor (any 2 year old Apple laptop or desktop) with 3 GB of RAM which will make it “functional”, but slow if you are running more than a few applications on the Mac side while trying to open something on the Windows side. You can run it with less of a system, but be aware of your patience and frustration levels.
  • You’re willing to go through the installation process of Windows, meaning a completely separate install of Windows XP (I’d recommend XP because its small). Note: Parrallels is just the container for running Windows on a Mac, you still need to acquire an installation disc of Windows and then go through a fresh system install.
  • You absolutely must use “that” Windows only program, and obviously don’t want to lug around a Windows machine. Do spend 5 minutes looking for a Mac alternative though, you’d be surprised how many Mac equivalents there are. If you have a specific application in mind, feel free to ask!

Personally, I used to keep Parrallels on my computer and run it when needed, about 8 months ago, I trashed it. I used it maybe twice. I have a Macbook Pro and 4 GB of RAM but Parallels felt like a waste of immovable space on my hard drive at times and operated sluggishly when I had 3 or more apps open on the Mac side.

If you really need Windows, and don’t want to be frustrated with it on your specific Macbook, I’d recommend Apple’s Boot Camp software. Boot Camp splits your hard drive and makes one portion ready for Windows. Install Windows on the otherside and reboot into it when needed. It will be annoying to reboot but it’s a much more “bearable” Windows experience. If you’re doing anything with gaming, don’t even attempt Parrallels without a really powerful machine.

Do you have a different experience?

*Parallels is not the only application for running Windows on a Mac, but as of right now, it’s the best option, beating out VMware Fusion in my opinion. This article isn’t meant to explain how to use the programs or the features of Parallels, but weigh in on how to decide if it’s worth the effort to invest time and money in.

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