How to Enable Virtualization on Windows 10, with Legacy BIOS Mode 💻

Waterfall pond.

Intro

I was trying to enable virtualization so I could run Docker in Windows. The computer I was using was an HP Elitebook 8470p with Windows 10. My computer was running Legacy BIOS mode, not UEFI BIOS mode. This can be checked by hitting “windows + R”, and typing the command “msinfo32”, hitting enter, and viewing the line titled “BIOS Mode”:

Windows System summary.

I tried entering the BIOS through “Settings”>”Update and Security”>”Recovery”>”Advanced Startup”>”Restart Now”, but there was a menu in this BIOS that was missing – namely to change the UEFI Firmware settings. Instead I found the instructions to enter the Windows 10 BIOS in a different way here. For my computer the directions were the same up to Step 3, and then I figured it out though searching the menu.

Directions

The directions are as follows:

  1. Power off the computer by holding down the Power button.
  2. Start up the computer, and press “esc” rapidly. For me, I saw a flash of the “hp” logo before being redirected to the BIOS menu.
  3. Press f10 as instructed, to enter BIOS setup.
  4. Navigate to “System Configuration” tab.
  5. Enter “Device Configurations” menu.
  6. Scroll down to “Virtualization Technology (VTx)” checkbox and check this box (and optionally “Virtualization Technology For Directed I/O (VTd)” checkbox, which I opted to check as well, even though I didn’t know what it did)
  7. Save changes and exit.

The steps will be shown with images below.

Step 1: Power off computer by holding down Power button.

Step 2: Start up the computer, and press “esc” rapidly, to enter menu shown below:

Windows BIOS menu.

Step 3: press f10 as instructed, to enter BIOS setup.

Windows BIOS menu.

Step 4: Navigate to “System Configuration” tab:

Step 5: Enter “Device Configurations” menu.

Windows BIOS "device configurations" menu.

Step 6: Scroll down to “Virtualization Technology (VTx)” checkbox and check this box (and optionally “Virtualization Technology For Directed I/O (VTd)” checkbox, which I opted to check as well, even though I didn’t know what it did):

Step 7: Save changes and exit.

After following these steps my computers virtualization was enabled, which could be confirmed in several ways: one of which is to enter the Task Manager with “ctrl+alt+delete”, and navigating to Performance tab. There you can see “Virtualization” in the lower right corner:

Windows task manager.

I hope this worked for you! And if it didn’t, good luck, you will figure it out!

Waterfall cave.

Waterfall Pond by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

Waterfall Cave by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash