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How to Mount Physical USB Devices in a Virtualbox VM

Have you tried attaching a USB device to your VirtualBox virtual machine (VM) only to have it not show up as recognized? This is actually a very common issue, and one that plagued me when I first started using VirtualBox. The problem is mainly that through VirtualBox plug’n’play doesn’t function properly and Windows is unable to figure out what driver the USB device needs. The way to fix it, is to setup the proper filter in VirtualBox settings.

In order for mounted USB devices to function, the virtual machine must have Guest Additions installed. It’s incredibly easy to install these, just run the virtual machine and then from the host window select Device > Install Guest Additions… VirtualBox should load a virtual disk with the guest additions setup, if it doesn’t run automatically just go into the virtual disk and launch the installer.

virtualbox guest additions

Now go back to the VirtualBox manager and right-click the VM that you want to use the USB device with to open the Settings window.

vm settings

Within settings, browse to the USB tab and click the Add button on the very right of the window. Select the USB device that you wish to use from the list. Once done, click OK to save changes and exit.

usb device filters

Now go back into your VM window and from the Host options select Device > Usb Devices > “your usb device.”

usb devices from host

The USB device should now show up just as it would on your physical computer. And that is all there is to adding a physical USB device to your VirtualBox VM’s.

If you have any questions, comments, or problems please check out the Troubleshooting section below and leave a comment further down.

usb device in virtualbox machine

Troubleshooting

Still not working? Try installing the Virtualbox Extension pack. Just download it from Oracle and then run it to let Virtualbox automatically add it.

You may need to restart the computer and/or the virtual machine before the mounted USB device will work.

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4 Responses to How to Mount Physical USB Devices in a Virtualbox VM

  1. Peter Gilvarry January 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Still does not work, Win8 Host machine, Tried with Win7 VM, sees the device but gives an error, rebooted the host and the client, n joy

    • Brian Burgess January 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

      Hey Peter, have you tried installing the Virtualbox Extension pack?

      • Martin February 15, 2013 at 10:20 am #

        For me it doesn’t work too :/
        and I have installed VirtualBox Extension Pack :/
        All my usb devices gives error :/

  2. Jack Busch January 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Can you boot a USB as a virtual machine?

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