Virtual Machines have been around for literally decades, but reached widespread popularity in the last few years. Virtual Machines give a high level of security and flexibility. I use products from VMware.com, but there are many to choose from, and many of these are free, such as VirtualBox by Oracle, Microsoft has Hyper-V, and Parallels is very popular for Apple computer users.
What is a Virtual Machine, or VM? The VM has a fancy title of hypervisor; it is software that works with your local host (real) OS and hardware to manage one or more “soft computers.”