How to Share USB and Network Devices in VirtualBox

Virtual Box Share Devices

VirtualBox is a popular virtualization tool that lets you install and test virtual computer systems on a host operating system. With VirtualBox, users have the ability to use a fully-functional system, running the operating system of their choice without having to do the setup on different hardware. However, sharing USB and network devices between the host and guest machine is not as straightforward as it should be. Follow the steps below to share USB devices between the host and guest machine in VirtualBox.

Share USB Devices Between a Host Machine and a Guest Machine

To access USB devices, you will first need to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions and the VirtualBox extension pack.

To install the Guest Additions, start your VirtualBox guest machine. Next, from the VirtualBox main menu, select “Insert Guest Additions CD image” from the Devices sub-menu.

Virtualbox Share Devices Guest Additions Image

After doing this, the installation should automatically start. Allow the installation process to run to completion. Note that the installation process will vary depending on the operating system that you’re using on your guest machine.

To install the extension pack, double-click on the extension pack file. This should open VirtualBox, and you should see a prompt to install the extension pack.

Virtualbox Share Devices Extension Pack Install

Follow the instructions provided by the installation wizard, and you’ll be all set to start using USB devices on your VirtualBox guest machine.

To manually mount a USB device that is connected to your computer from your guest machine access the Devices menu, select the USB device that you want to access from the USB sub-menu.

Virtualbox Share Devices Manual Mount Browse

You can also mount USB devices automatically in VirtualBox. To do this, you will have to go to Virtualbox’s main window, select your virtual machine, then go to Settings and browse to the USB section.

Virtualbox Share Devices Mount Auto Settings

Hit the “Add filter” button and select the USB device that you want to mount automatically. It needs to be plugged in while you’re using your guest machine.

Virtualbox Share Devices Usb Device Filters Choose

After hitting OK, your device should mount automatically the next time you plug it in while on your selected guest machine.

How to Share Network Devices Between the Host Machine and Guest Machine

The network settings are usually set up in such a way that they work right off the bat on VirtualBox guest operating systems. However, if this isn’t the case, or if you want to change your setup, then select your guest OS from the main window of VirtualBox and select Settings. Under Network, you have the choice of making the following selections under “Attached to”:

  • NAT: with this setting, your virtual machine will have its own IP address and can’t be accessed from other devices.
  • NAT Network: this is similar to NAT but allows you to have a network with multiple virtual machines.
  • Bridged Adapter: this setting makes your virtual machine pick up its IP address from the same source as your host machine.
  • Internal Network: this is similar to the NAT setup and gives you a private IP address.
  • Host-Only Adapter: with this setup, your host machine basically acts as a router and can communicate with the guest machine. However, you won’t be able to access the internet without some tweaking.
  • Generic Driver: this setting allows for communication between virtualbox guests and hosts.

When it comes to Bluetooth, sometimes you need to enable your Bluetooth adapter manually. In some cases, the Bluetooth adapter shows up as a USB device. To enable it, simply go to the USB option, which falls under the Devices menu, and select your Bluetooth adapter. You should note that it isn’t always immediately clear which device is the Bluetooth adapter. Figuring this out may take some trial and error. After enabling your adapter, you should be able to use Bluetooth without problems on your guest OS.

As you can see, sharing your USB devices with the guest machine in VirtualBox is easy, though it doesn’t work out of the box. Similarly, if your guest machine is running out of space, here is one way you can increase the virtual hard disk size in VirtualBox.

William Elcock
William Elcock

William has been fiddling with tech for as long as he remembers. This naturally transitioned into helping friends with their tech problems and then into tech blogging.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox