Virtualization is great way to install and test an Operating System. For example Windows 10 preview builds can be test driven on a computer without affecting the system partition and files, by using virtualization software like VirtualBox or VMWare Player. Mac OS X users can run Windows via virtual software. But for doing all these activities, one need to check if the host PC supports virtualization.
Virtualization is done at the hardware level by the manufacturer of the computer’s processor. Most of the latest set of processors manufactured by Intel and AMD have virtualization feature embedded, but several PC manufacturers disable it at BIOS level when they ship the computers to stores, apparently for security reasons, as virtualization can open a door to hackers, and generally not recommended unless you need it and know what you are doing. So how to know if your Intel or AMD based PC supports virtualization?
Computers with Intel Processor
Intel Processor Identification Utility helps you find out plenty of information about your computer’s CPU including the advanced technologies Virtualization and Hyper-threading. The utility is free to download and use.
Click on CPU Technologies tab in the utility user interface to see if your PC supports Virtualization.
Computers with AMD Processor
AMD Virtualization Technology and Microsoft Hyper-V System Compatibility Check Utility released by AMD lets you know if virtualization and hyper-threading is enabled on AMD based computer.
Once you install and run the utility it right away shows the compatibility check message.
How to enable Virtualization through BIOS
So once you know that your computer is virtualization capable, you may want to enable it. You can do it by booting into BIOS of your computer.
1. Restart your computer into BIOS. Not all methods of booting into BIOS are same, therefore you need to refer to your computer’s manual to know how to boot into BIOS. But generally most computers boot into BIOS upon pressing the F2 key during the start-up of PC, before Windows loads in.
2. Again not all manufacturers have same BIOS settings structure. Use the arrow keys to navigate through items, enable virtualization, and then save and exit the BIOS. Carefully look at each option to find Virtualization or its equivalent term, for instance in my Lenovo IdeaPad U530 laptop, I found Intel Virtual Technology setting in the Configuration tab. Some manufacturers put it under Security tab.
You can now boot into Windows and launch the Intel/AMD tools mentioned above to check the status of virtualization. In Windows 8.1, virtualization state is shown in Performance tab of Task Manager too.