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Will the Parallels Desktop 16 upgrade keep VMs created in earlier versions?

Parallels Desktop 16
Double dealer: Parallels lets you run Windows on a Mac

Parallels Desktop – the brilliant software that allows you to run Windows and Linux distros on a Mac – has been upgraded to version 16. If you’re a Parallels subscriber, you’ve probably been sent an email offering you the free upgrade to the latest version.

However, if you’ve got virtual machines created in version 15 of the software, you might be wondering if they will be automatically transferred across to Parallels Desktop 16 or whether you have to start over?

Relax. The news is good.

If my experience is anything to go by, your VMs will still be perfectly intact when you complete the upgrade to Parallels Desktop 16. That said, as with any software upgrade, there’s always the off chance that something might go wrong, so if you’ve got anything of value in those VMs, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got backups.

What’s new in Parallels Desktop 16? Not an awful lot. In fact, once you’ve installed the new version, you might struggle to notice the difference! The company makes the usual claims about improved performance, although I’ve not yet been able to test that in any meaningful sense.

However, there is one new feature that I like: the ability to automatically reclaim unused disk space from a virtual machine every time you shut down.

So, for example, if you’ve assiged 400GB to a Windows 10 VM, but after uninstalling a big application, you’re only using 250GB of disk space, Parallels can be set to automatically hand back the unneeded space to the Mac partition. Handy if you’re running short of space on your Mac.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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