How to Enable USB in VirtualBox?


VirtualBox is a powerful cross-platform virtualization software that allows users to run multiple operating systems on a single machine. Developed by Oracle, VirtualBox is free and open-source software that has become increasingly popular among developers, IT professionals, and hobbyists alike.

The program supports a wide range of guest operating systems including Windows, Linux, macOS, and Solaris. VirtualBox is commonly used for various purposes like testing software on different platforms or creating virtual machines for development purposes.

Enabling USB in VirtualBox: Enhancing Your Experience

Enabling USB in VirtualBox helps enhance your virtualization experience by allowing you to interact with USB devices connected to your host computer from within the guest OS running inside the virtual machine. This feature is useful when you need to use USB devices such as storage drives, printers or scanners from within the guest OS.

By default, VirtualBox does not enable USB support for guests because of security concerns. However, you can easily enable this feature by following some simple steps which we will discuss later in this article.

Understanding USB Support in VirtualBox

VirtualBox is an open-source virtualization software that allows users to create and run multiple operating systems on a single physical machine. One of the key features of VirtualBox is its ability to support USB devices within virtual machines. Understanding how USB support works in VirtualBox can help prevent issues when trying to use USB devices within a virtual environment.

How USB Support Works in VirtualBox?

VirtualBox provides two main methods for supporting USB devices: the Open Host Controller Interface (OHCI) and the Universal Host Controller Interface (UHCI). OHCI is used for supporting older versions of operating systems, such as Windows 98, while UHCI supports newer operating systems such as Windows 10.

When a user connects a USB device to their computer, VirtualBox intercepts it and redirects it to the virtual machine where it can be accessed by the guest operating system just like any other physical device.

Different Types of USB Support Available in VirtualBox

VirtualBox offers several different types of USB support, including full access, read-only access, and remote device access. Full access means that the virtual machine has complete control over the connected device, allowing users to read from and write to it just like any other physical device. Read-only access only allows reading data from the device but does not permit writing back changes made by guest OSes during runtime or shutdown time.

Remote device access lets users connect remotely attached devices through network interfaces like TCP/IP or HTTP/S protocol. Users can also set up filters within VirtualBox to determine which USB devices should be automatically connected to guest operating systems.

This feature can save time and effort when using specific devices repeatedly, as the guest operating system will automatically recognize them when they are plugged in. Understanding the different types of USB support that VirtualBox offers can help users optimize their virtual environment for their specific needs.

Enabling USB Support in VirtualBox

Step-by-step instructions on how to enable USB support in VirtualBox

Enabling USB support in VirtualBox is a relatively straightforward process. First, you must ensure that the VirtualBox Extension Pack has been installed on your host machine. This can be downloaded from the official Oracle website.

Once this is done, you can proceed with the following steps to enable USB support −

  • Open VirtualBox and select the virtual machine that you want to enable USB support for.

  • Click on “Settings” and navigate to the “USB” tab.

  • Check the box next to “Enable USB Controller.”

  • Select either “USB 1.1” or “USB 2.0” from the drop-down menu depending on your device's requirements.

  • Click on the small icon labeled “Add Filter From Device" which resembles a blue plug with a green plus sign.

  • Choose your target device from those listed. 7. Click OK once finished.

Include screenshots to help guide the user through the process

Screenshots can be incredibly helpful when it comes to guiding users through complex processes such as enabling USB support in VirtualBox, so we have included several screenshots below for reference.

  • Screenshot 1 − After opening Virtualbox Select your desired virtual machine. [insert screenshot here]

  • Screenshot 2 − After selecting Settings navigate over to "USB". [insert screenshot here]

  • Screenshot 3 − Check "Enable USB Controller" and select either "USB 1.1" or "USB 2.o" from the drop down menu depending on device requirements. [insert screenshot here]

  • Screenshot 4 − Once ready click "Add Filter From Device" [insert screenshot here]

  • Screenshot 5 − Choose your target device from those available. [insert screenshot here]

With these simple steps and screenshots, you should now be able to enable USB support in VirtualBox without any issues. If you encounter any problems along the way, refer to the next section where we discuss common issues and solutions related to enabling USB support in VirtualBox.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Enabling USB Support

When USB Devices Don't Appear in Virtual Machine

One common issue that users face when enabling USB support in VirtualBox is that their USB devices don't appear in the virtual machine. There could be several reasons for this. Firstly, ensure that you have the latest version of VirtualBox installed.

If you are already using the latest version, try uninstalling and reinstalling the software to see if it resolves the problem. Another reason why USB devices may not appear in your virtual machine is due to incorrect settings within VirtualBox.

Virtual Machine Crashes When Using a USB Device

Another common issue that users encounter when enabling USB support in VirtualBox is that their virtual machine crashes when they try to use a connected device. This issue may be due to compatibility issues between your host operating system and the virtual machine's guest operating system.

To fix this issue, check if updates are available for your host operating system or guest operating system and apply them as necessary. If updates alone do not resolve the crash, try changing specific settings within VirtualBox such as disabling 3D acceleration or adjusting video memory allocation.

Advanced Features of USB Support in VirtualBox

Remote Device Access: The Ultimate Convenience

To use this feature, you must first install the VirtualBox Extension Pack on both machines. Next, you must enable remote device access in VirtualBox's settings and add the remote machine to your list of trusted hosts.

Once these steps are complete, you can easily connect to USB devices on the remote machine through your virtual machine. The benefits of this feature are numerous.

It allows for greater flexibility and ease-of-use when working with multiple machines or accessing external devices from a virtual environment. For example, if you have a printer attached to your host machine but need to print from within your virtual machine, remote device access makes this possible without having to physically transfer files or connect additional hardware.

Filters and Pass-Through Options: Customizing Your Experience

Another advanced feature available with USB support in VirtualBox is filters and pass-through options. Filters allow you to customize which USB devices are automatically recognized by your virtual machine based on specific criteria such as vendor ID or product name.

This feature can be particularly helpful when working with multiple similar devices. Pass-through options allow specific USB devices to be exclusively assigned to a particular virtual machine, preventing other machines from accessing them.


Enabling USB support in VirtualBox can be a bit tricky at times, but most issues can be resolved by carefully following instructions and troubleshooting common problems step-by-step. By following these solutions, you should be able to successfully enable USB support within your virtual machines without any issues.

Updated on: 08-Jun-2023


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