The Advantages of Desktop Virtualization over Traditional PCs


Think about the time and resources required to maintain a traditional PC environment. Because each computer has its own operating system and applications, all updates must be made manually at the PC level. Of course, PCs need to be replaced every few years, creating an endless cycle of high costs and high maintenance. When you factor smartphones and tablets into the equation, you have an incredibly complex IT environment that becomes more and more difficult to keep current and secure.’s outsourced IT support relieves these desktop support challenges. However, a technology called desktop virtualization can eliminate the need for PCs altogether, providing a number of advantages. And today there are desktop virtualization solutions available at price points that are within reach of small to midsize businesses (SMBs).

Desktop virtualization separates the operating system, applications and data from the physical endpoint device used to access the desktop environment. Multiple virtual desktops are stored on a central server and accessed by users on their endpoint devices.

Desktop virtualization overcomes many of the challenges of a traditional PC environment by simplifying management and reducing operational costs. Virtual desktops are centrally managed and controlled, enabling IT managers to quickly deliver updates, new applications and security patches without the need to physically touch each endpoint device. Adding users is as easy as creating new virtual desktop environments on a central server instead of purchasing new hardware and software.

Because data on a virtual desktop always remains in the data center, a virtual environment is much more secure than a traditional PC environment. If a device is lost or stolen, IT can simply prevent that device from accessing applications or data. The risks of data loss and disruption to business operations are minimized because backups occur continuously.

There are three categories of endpoint devices capable of accessing a virtual desktop environment:

Thin Client. A thin client has many of the basic components as a PC, including an operating system, processor and memory. However, a thin client has just enough memory and processing power to present the user’s virtual desktop. A thin client is cheaper, more secure and more energy-efficient than a PC. It can also be centrally managed. However, thin clients provide limited support for multimedia and may require additional licensing.

Zero Client. A zero client basically serves as a physical portal for the virtual desktop, with no operating system and processor finely tuned for desktop virtualization. Because a zero client is a bare-bones endpoint, it requires no management and provides a long lifespan for little cost. However, a zero client will have limited scalability, require a high-speed connection and often use proprietary solutions.

Tablet. People love using tablets at work for the same reasons they love using tablets at home. They’re light and portable, using touchscreen-optimized operating systems and applications. Tablets are less expensive than desktops and offer the flexibility of mobile access, with a battery life in the eight- to 10-hour range. On the flip side, the size and dimensions of tablets make them more fragile, and they lack USB support.

In the next post, we’ll discuss the options for achieving desktop virtualization and how they’re becoming more accessible for SMBs.