What Do I Need?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by Wil3, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. Wil3

    Wil3 Bit poster

    Hi, I just recently bought a 20 inch Imac. I love it. But it seems there are some software programs that I used in Windows that I can't part with or they just don't make for MAC. Therefore; I'm assuming Parallels is my best option to run these programs, right? Bear with me, while I have a few more questions to get an overall idea what I need to set this up:

    1. I'm going to have to purchase a new WINDOWS software alongside Parallels, right? I had XP on my old SONY VIAO which worked great. I've heard so many issues with VISTA and was just wondering if I should just stick with XP home edition w/ SP2?

    2. What about security? Is my Mac at risk as soon as I install WINDOWS with Parallels? Should I invest in some anti-virus program and install it on the WINDOWS? Do I need to enable the Windows firewall that comes with XP? What are the possible consequences if I didn't install an anti-virus program?

    3. Coherance? I'm fuzzy on this concept? This comes with the newer versions of Parallels, right? What will it do for me? Is it necessary?

    4. Is it as easy as just installing Parallels and then Windows and you're set to go? Or what type of settings or such should I look forward to encountering. For instance, I keep reading about setting up space for the Windows part? Is this true and will this option be presented to me when setting up Windows or Parallels? How much space should I allot for Windows? And do I need to purchase the Parallels compressor program too?

    5. What else do I need to know when venturing into setting up the two systems to run side by side on my mac? I consider myself decently computer savy, but will I have to get into either operational system and set up certain settings that may risk blowing up my MAC? LOL!

    As you can see, I'm seriously considering using Parallels? I hope someone will be kind enough to read all my questions and take a moment in trying to answer them, rather redirecting me here and there unless it's necessary. I guess; I'm just looking for some reassurance I am not going to waste my money on purchasing Parallels and a new Windows software only to find out it's more hassle than it's worth.

    Much thanks anyone who reads and chooses to respond to this. :)
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2007
  2. Purplish

    Purplish Forum Maven

    1. You are correct that you need to buy new windows software. XP Works fine. I have not tried VISTA but some have it working. The "eye=candy" features of Vista require DirectX support, which is not available in Parallels, but may be in the next major release of Parallels. A good migration path might be to wait for your favorite applications to take advantage of Vista, and then upgrade them and (XP to Vista) and (Parallels to a theeoretical future release). On the other hand, you could probably buy a full version of Vista now and get it running.

    2) I would recommend installing an antivirus program. AVG Free Edition works great for me. As for the risk...with Parallels and Windows running, along with, say, a Quicken encrypted link to your financial institutions, the risk is quite small. If you frequently use Internet Explorer, the risk goes up for viruses and Malware. If you use an e-mail program under XP, your risk goes through the roof. I would advise doing most browsing and e-mail on the Mac side.

    I would recommend connecting your iMac to the internet through a router. This will provide a good firewall for bothe the iMac and the XP virtual machine.

    3. To understand Coherence...

    There are three modes for viewing Parallels.
    A. Full Screen Mode. Your XP machine takes up the full screen. To revert back to the OSX desktop, hit [option][return] at the same time.

    B. OSX Window mode. Your entire XP desktop appears in a window on your OSX desktop.

    C. Coherence Mode. Imagine that you want to just have one application open in XP (say Quicken). Then under Coherence mode, Quicken appears in a window on your OSX desktop, but the rest of XP is hidden. You will see the XP toolbar right on top of the OSX toolbar, so you can open other XP applications if you need to.

    4. Personally, I took the default options, and the actual install was very fast. If you know that you will need more than 8GB of hard disk space, you may want to do that at installation. I think when I bought Parallels, the Compressor program came with it. To date I have not used it.

    5. You will want to max out the memory on your iMac. I upgrade my iMac to 2GB. There are 3rd parties that sell this memory much cheaper than buying it through Apple. Macsales.com is one of them. You will also want to get into the habit of backing up your iMac at least daily. I use a program called SuperDuper! which creates a bootable backup of my entire hard disk (including Parallels and XP) every night at 3AM. I use a firewire external drive for the backup.
  3. Wil3

    Wil3 Bit poster

    AWESOME RESPONSE Purplish! I think you helped me make the leap to using Parallels. In fact, if I correctly understood you, with the "Coherence" feature I can simply just call up some windows software on it's own without actually switching to windows which is what I would most likely use it for. See, I pretty much want to use Parallels just for the use of a few graphic and flash programs I've spent money on which isn't compatible with MAC. From your explanation, I can simply call up one or both of those programs as if it's operating on my Mac OS, right?

    So do I set the "Coherence mode" when I install Parallels, or is that just an option I select when trying to work with a WINDOWS program.

    All in all, I am happy with the internet connectivity on the MAC side. Safari works great for me. I guess the only other thing that I would want to use the WINDOWS side of it is to look at the website I am designing on another Windows compatible browser. Also, all my email and financial needs are compatible on the MAC side for me, so no worries there.

    As for the whole VISTA versus XP, I have really no desire to work on VISTA using my software. They worked well on XP with the exception that it may take a little longer to load things, but I imagine with the 2GB of memory and the 256 video card I have in the MAC, that should correct that issue, right?

    And thanks for the advise on the AVG anti-virus program. As for the FIREWALL, I'm using a ethernet hub to network to two other WINDOWS PC's, will that work or should I just turn on the FIREWALL or install ZONE ALARM to the WINDOWS side of the system?

    So if I back up the computer everyday, must I leave my External drive on all the time? And how should I set up the External drive for the back up. Should I just create a back up folder for the MAC and let it use that folder? Is this going to take a significant amount of space?

    Sorry for all the questions, but you've been a great help so far!!! THANK YOU.

    One more thing, I've noticed EBAY selling Parallels and Windows XP home edition for considerably less than buying it for full price. Is this a wise alternative?

    Once again... THANK YOU!
  4. Purplish

    Purplish Forum Maven

    You should think of Coherence Mode as a visual "trick". It is not that you don't have to load XP. Rather XP is there, but you don't see it.

    I leave my external drive on all the time, but it goes into a reduced power mode after a while.

    What I did for my backup (and your mileage may vary)...I bought a 500GB fireware external drive. I created a partition for the backup at 250GB (the size of my Mac HD) and left 250 MB if I want to store big video files off line. Your backup partition could be much smaller. For example, my Mac is currently using maybe 110GB total, so a partition that size would back it up. I wanted to be sure that no matter what I did in the future, I would always have enough space to do a bootable backup.

    As an alternative, you can just back up your data files (and your VM). That would take a whole lot less space, but would not be bootable.

    I think the default installation choices will give you coherence mode. If you don't want it, you can select to turn it off during installation. While running Parallels, you can toggle between all three modes.
  5. Wil3

    Wil3 Bit poster

    Thank you again. You've been a great help. I have a Western Digital 250 Hard drive. The thing is that I've got about 100 GB in use already. Much of that stuff is from my old computer that I'm just considering keeping in storage and then call it up on the MAC when I need it. So how will I be able to partition it with stuff on it already?

    And what about the firewall? Can I just use ZONE ALARM or the firewall that comes with WINDOWS??

    And you're right, it sounds like I benefit from the "Coherence Mode".
  6. Purplish

    Purplish Forum Maven

    On your 100GB in use already...

    You can partition the hard drive and leave room for the 100GB if you want. If memory serves, the partitioning process will wipe out the whole harddrive, so you will want to back it up perhaps to the Mac hard drive and move it back after the partitioning. Or you could leave it on the MAC HD and have it backed up.

    Is your WD drive USB or FW (or both)? USB works both for backup and for being bootable, but it is noticably slower...and for booting it crawls. But it is better than having no backup.

    I am not the one to ask on firewalls.
  7. Wil3

    Wil3 Bit poster

    It's USB. And how can I leave it on the HD and partition it without wiping things out.

    By the way, when I originally set up the External HD, I formatted it to FAT32. At the time, I had no idea that was the thing to do since formatting it the other, would have not allowed me to write on it anymore unless I wiped out the Hard drive and reformatted it again.

    So with that in mind, should I partition both FAT32 for the MAC and Windows side?
  8. Purplish

    Purplish Forum Maven

    If you want to be able to boot from your hard drive you will want to format as

    MAC OSX Extended (Journaled), but see the SuperDuper manual for more info.

    I suggest you back up the data on your external hard drive before partitioning.
  9. David5000

    David5000 Pro

    You need a second external hard drive or enough room on your internal drive to park the files from your external--otherwise you will not be able to do what you want to.

    (In any event you should have more than one external hard drive. Otherwise you risk violating the first rule of backups: Always have a backup. With your current setup, if for example you erase your external drive, now all your data is on only one drive. If that first drive should fail or if there is some problem with the data on the drive, you have no backup.)

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2007

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