QEMU (Quick EMUlator) vs VirtualBox

QEMU is an open-source software used for virtualization and as an emulator whereas the other tool VirtualBox is used for virtualization. Before getting into the depth of these tools, let’s have a look at Emulation and Virtualization concept:

Emulation is the computing phenomena that enables one computer to behave like another computer, for instance running other software that is built not for that machine specifically, like console games on your PC or executing windows specific software on Mac.

Virtualization as its name directs, is the act of creating a copy or virtual version of something and in computers the resources can be shared with computers to create more working machines usually called Virtual Machines. On the other hand, VirtualBox is another useful tool built for virtualization specifically. It can be installed on one PC and with the help of Virtualization you can get more operating systems along with your parent OS.

Both tools have been widely used because of their functionalities and demand of modern era, so, in our today’s article we will discuss both the tools:

Pros and Cons of VirtualBox

Let’s have a look at some pros and cons of the VirtualBox:


  • Easy to use and customize for new users
  • Supports multiple support of OS to virtualize
  • Provide the feature of backup to VM that helps when a parent VM crashes


  • High resource consumer and thus slows down the older machines
  • Guest additions of VirtualBox must be automated

Pros and Cons of QEMU

This section will list down notable Pros and Cons of QEMU:


  • Open source and free support available for every platform
  • Support for multiple processing architecture
  • One tool that provide dual support, i.e., virtualization and emulation
  • Stable and highly configurable


  • Not suitable for Novice computer users
  • For virtualization, QEMU requires KVM support

Key Differences between QEMU and VirtualBox

As discussed earlier, QEMU can be used for emulation and virtualization, however, VirtualBox can be used for virtualization only. QEMU comes with dual support of emulation and virtualization whereas the latter provides only virtualization features. Keeping an eye on this viewpoint, we have listed few differences between both tools:

Usability: The first thing users notice is the interface and the ease-of-use, in this regard VirtualBox outperforms QEMU as VB is more user friendly whereas QEMU is difficult to install and use.

Architecture Support: The processing architectures supported by VirtualBox are based on x32bit and x64bit; however, the QEMU has a long list of supported architecture like ARM, Alpha, SPARC. Therefore, QEMU is recommended for advanced level users and for kernel developers. On the other hand, VirtualBox better suits the users who want to get multiple operating systems to run on a single machine without a dual boot hindrance.

Customization: The customization feature of VirtualBox takes longer than QEMU and even other competitors too; one reason is that VB is easy to use as well as the customization options are understandable for novice users too. Although VB is user friendly and easy to customize, QEMU is older than VirtualBox, and interestingly, VB utilizes few components of QEMU for virtual machines.

Virtualization: For Virtualization, QEMU must be joined with KVM (a Linux module) to act as a virtual machine whereas users can directly create VMs in VirtualBox without adding any extra component.

End user satisfaction: The major difference between both the tools is that VirtualBox is rated good when it comes to end user satisfaction whereas QEMU lacks this feature thus QEMU falls in the underrated bucket.


In this modern era, Virtualization and Emulation have paved the way for tech lovers to allow them to launch any OS on their parent OS and to run software that is not available for their machines. To perform these actions, several tools are available that allow you to enable the virtualization and emulation support. For instance, QEMU is a tool that has virtualization as well as emulation support, whereas another tool VirtualBox that only allows virtualization. In this guide, we have provided a detailed comparison of these tools and it is concluded that, if you are pro at playing with tech then you can choose QEMU for virtualization and emulation, whereas VirtualBox is best for novice users to virtualize the OS of their choice.

About the author

Adnan Shabbir