VirtualBox USB drive access – a ‘how-to’ guide

Olga Weis

Contents


1. How to access local USB drive in VirtualBox
2. Software solution to forward USB drive to virtual machine
3. Remotely access USB drives over VRDP

How to access local USB drive in VirtualBox


You may be aware that VirtualBox 5.0 includes USB passthrough support. Here are some simple directions on how to connect a hard drive in VirtualBox.

USB drive in VirtualBox
  1. You can optionally install the free VirtualBox Extension Pack if you wish to take advantage of USB 3.0 speeds.
  2. Once installation is complete, start your virtual machine on any of the supported guest hosts such as Windows or Linux.
  3. Connect your USB drive using a port on your host computer
  4. In the software interface, navigate to Devices -> USB, and select ‘USB device to share’.

When the connection is enabled, the VirtualBox attached USB drive appears in your guest OS. You will get complete access to your VirtualBox pendrive’s functionality as your VM recognizes the USB device. You can use VirtualBox to remotely connect to the USB drive.

Keep in mind that only one machine at a time can be accessing the USB device.

Software solution to forward USB drive to virtual machine


USB Network Gate solves the problem inherent in many virtualization apps that offer little or no support for local USB devices. Using USB redirection technology, USB Network Gate permits a VirtualBox hard drive’s data to be forwarded over the Internet or a LAN. Now you have access to USB drives from your guest VM, even when the device is plugged into a remote PC rather than your local host.

USB Network Gate

Here are the three simple steps to enable this feature:

  1. Download and install the USB Network Gate application on the machine with the attached USB drive.
  2. Use the software interface to share the drive.
  3. On a virtual machine, install USB Network Gate. Start the app and connect it to the VirtualBox external hard drive.

This software offers cross-platform compatibility and can be run on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.

Remotely access USB drives over VRDP


Another feature of VirtualBox is its ability to display a virtual machine remotely. What this means is that a guest OS started on one machine can be monitored and controlled by a user on another PC. VirtualBox does this by means of its VirtualBox Remote Display Protocol (VRDP). This protocol offers backwards compatibility with the Microsoft RDP protocol and makes it an excellent answer when you need to access a virtual machine over an RDP connection.

Remote USB drive access is also possible with VirtualBox. When a guest OS is displayed remotely as VRDP data it can access the remote computer’s USB drives as if they were attached locally to the VM host. Remotely accessing USB drives in VirtualBox is simple using VRDP.

USB Network Gate

Requirements for Windows: XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10, Server 2012
Also available on macOS, Linux OS and Android , 5.62MB size
Version 8.0.1859 (4th Nov, 2017) Release notes
Category: Networking Software