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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


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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13 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 :/

      • Cvetan December 14, 2015 at 10:40 am #

        For me like on Martin. ExtensionPack installed on the HostMashine, not on Virtual one. All usb devices in virtual device manager are with error and not available on Virtual mashine. But they are selected in Devices->USB. When click over USB device, device unmark and becomes accesible in Host PC. In short words – way is right. I miss some too little to success, but what?

        • Cvetan December 14, 2015 at 10:56 am #

          Success ! On VirtualBox Settings when virtual mashine turned off select in section USB->USB 2 The choice is between usb 1.0, usb 2.0, usb 3.0). I found selected USB 1.0. Turn on virtual mashine and use the usb device!

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

    Can you boot a USB as a virtual machine?

  3. David Coolwater April 7, 2015 at 8:18 pm #


    I have tried your suggestion and everything seems to work as expected. However, when I got to Device menu on Virtual Machine –> USB devices and click on my USB device it opens up in the HOST Operating system not the Guest. So, what I am doing wrong? I understand that this is an old VirtualBox issue, but I hope you can help me. Thanks in advance.

  4. September 29, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    Does it work for VM of Windows 10? I run VirtualBox on a Mac, and make a Windows 10 VM. Followed the instructions above but when I click “Devices > USB Devices > (Name of any USB devices listed)”, it constantly tells me –

    Failed to attach the USB device (USB device name) to the virtual machine (VM name).
    USB device ‘(USB device name)’ with UUID (UUID) is in use by someone else.

    Any advice how to fix it? Thanks!

  5. faizan mairaj March 28, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    no usb is visible in the USB section. I have tried everything. Installed the extension pack, EHCI, EXCI controller. but nothing is going in my way. Although DVD drive is working, just stuck at USB.
    Help please.

  6. Miki October 15, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    i hv already installed extension but still doesn’t work

  7. BillV November 26, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

    Have you tried setting the USB to something lower than USB3.0 in the Guest settings? EXCI doesn’t work on some guests, where OHCI/EHCI USB2.0 will

  8. AC February 14, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    My settings in virtual box does not have usb, it has everything else. So even add the flash drive to the usb device filter, I won’t be able to add my scandisk.

  9. jonny April 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

    Running widows 10 through a mac host: Devices menus, drag and drop, host to guest. Usb showed up on my mac desktop and I dragged it to my computer in the windows window.

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