Boot from physical USB Drive is not supported in GUI of Virtualbox. However there’s an indirect way with which you can make a physical USB Drive boot in VirtualBox.

VirtualBox support boot from virtual disks created in virtual box. So you have to mount your physical USB Drive to .vmdk raw disk which is supported by virtual box. It’s very easy to make a .vmdk raw disk with your USB Drive mounted on it. Then you can add this .vmdk raw disk to VirtualBox and your Virtual Machine starts booting from your physical USB Drive.

To mount your USB Drive to raw disk you need run two Command lines in Command Prompt. You need to mount USB Drive only once, thereafter every time you can use that .vmdk raw disk to boot your USB Drive in VirtualBox, if drive number is same as described below.

 

Steps to make a USB Drive boot in VirtualBox:

  • First find your USB Drive number in Disk Management. In start menu right click on My Computer and select Manage. In Computer Management select Disk Management, There you find Disk number of USB Drive. In the image it is 1.

Physical USB drive number

  • Now run Command prompt as administrator. Type the following command line : cd “c:\Program Files\Sun\VirtualBox” what actually this command line does is to make Command prompt to process is VirtualBox Directory. After you execute first command line now copy-paste second command line : VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename “%USERPROFILE%\usb.vmdk” -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive1 This command mount your Physical Drive 1 which is USB Drive number to usb.nmdk raw disk. “%USERPROFILE%/usb.vmdk” is the path to save the file, you can choose your own path. Replace Physical Drive number coloured in blue with yours if other than 1.

Command lines to add Physical USB Drive to VirtualBox

  • After you successfully created the .vmdk raw disk. Run VirtualBox as administrator (You must run Virtual Box as administrator, otherwise you may get error in adding usb.vmdk raw disk to VirtualBox).                                              

Adding Physical USB drive in VirtualBox

  • Select the virtual machine and click Settings then select Storage and then add newly created usb.vmdk raw disk to VirtualBox as marked in image below. Remove any bootable ISO image attached otherwise your bootable ISO image attached will boot first or you can change the Boot Order to make Hard Disk first boot in VirtualBox in System section of Settings.
  • Now starts Virtual machine and you’ll see that it starts booting from Bootable Physical USB Drive. Image shows booting of Windows 7 Bootable USB Drive in VirtualBox. 

USB Boot in VirtualBox

You can use any bootable USB Drive in VirtualBox using this method but the condition is that your USB Drive must be bootable. To know how to make bootable USB Drive visit here.

 




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  • DavidB

    Very good method, thank you very much.
    I have Windows XP SP3 x86 and I’m using VirtualBox as admin.
    Only one problem: any changes made to the USB drive in the virtual machine are not visible in the host OS until I remove it and reattach it.
    I tried a tool called sync.exe, who flushes the Windows RAM buffer, no change.
    I tried also to change usb.vmdk to writethrough, still no change.
    Is there any good setting for this, or even a tool/command (preferably fast too), perhaps even one that can be used in a batch file…?
    Please help me…
    Thank you.

    Regards, DavidB

    • Gurmeet

      DavidB,

      Thanks for comment, Glad to know you like the method.

      For your problem of USB changes not visible in host OS, you can try to unmount the USB drive from VirtualBox by removing the USB drive from Device menu in VirtualBox. However, I have not tested it on Windows XP.

      You can also check manual of virtual machine configuration : http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch03.html#settings-usb

      Hope you find it helpful.

  • DavidB

    There is a tool who does that automatically. It’s called “Virtual machine starter”. Works with Qemu and VirtualBox. More: it’s able to automatically dismount the volumes from the USB drive before the VM starts and to remount them back after it’s closed. This way it can prevent any data loss on the USB drive (from been accessed simultaneously by 2 computers) and you can see any modification made inside the VM (to the USB drive) into the real computer right after the VM is closed.

    Where you can find it: go to reboot pro → Boot methods & tools → Boot from USB / Boot anywhere → Booting VirtualBox with USB workaround (last page of the thread).

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