Advantages and Disadvantages of Java Virtual Machines

By Mike Wallace

The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) is an environment that executes Java programs. Java programs are compiled into an intermediate language called bytecode, which is what the JVM executes. Any program compiled into bytecode can be executed on any platform that has a JVM installed on it. This makes Java software compatible with many different computing platforms. The JVM has a few notable advantages and disadvantages that any developer should weigh carefully before investing in Java development.

Platform Independence

Java bytecode can be written once and then run on multiple platforms. Java bytecode does not need to be ported to a specific hardware environment because it runs in the Java Virtual Machine. Any application compiled into Java bytecode can be run on any computing platform that has a Java Virtual Machine.


Java was written with security in mind. The Java Virtual Machine has built-in security features that allow programmers to write highly secure Java programs. It also prevents malicious software from compromising the Operating System (OS) because it keeps Java applications from interacting with Operating System resources.


Java programs that run on a Java Virtual Machine tend to perform slower than equivalent programs written in C++. The system neutrality of bytecode acts as a disadvantage where performance is concerned. This is because code optimization relies heavily on system-specific features. Since Java bytecode is system-neutral, it cannot be optimized for a specific hardware set.


A program that performs, as expected, is said to be correct. Since a Java program relies on the Java Virtual Machine to execute it, the JVM must be free of errors for the program to operate correctly. This reliance on the Java Virtual Machine introduces a possible point of failure for the program. Luckily, the Java Virtual Machine software is produced with very high standards, and therefore it isn't likely to ship with any errors. Regardless, a failure in the Java Virtual Machine is a possibility that should be considered.