How to use VirtualBox USB passthrough

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The developers of the popular VirtualBox virtualization platform have consistently neglected a feature that many users would greatly appreciate. The limited support of the USB devices in VirtualBox is one of the frustrating aspects of the tool when users realize that VirtualBox is not recognizing USB devices.

There are many reasons why VirtualBox USB support may be important to you. Using an external USB drive to backup your data or sending data to a USB printer are both common tasks that users need to perform regularly. The ability to connect USB equipment to VirtualBox would make it a very attractive option for users in need of a virtual environment.

VirtualBox USB passthrough - software method

VirtualBox is not alone in its lack of USB support. Many other virtualization applications also fall victim to this oversight. Fortunately, there is a software solution called FlexiHub that allows users to connect USB to virtual machines in VirtualBox.


Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
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FlexiHub employs USB over Ethernet technology to forward traffic from USB devices over a network.

This USB over network solution enables VirtualBox USB passthrough and enables your guest OS to access USB devices attached to any network-connected machine, not just the host operating system.

Here is a simple procedure to follow if VirtualBox USB is not working on your system.

  1. Sign up for a FlexiHub account here. You can also register for an account from within the app.
  2. Download the software and start a free trial after selecting the required number of connections.
  3. Install the software on both the host and a guest operating system.
  4. Launch FlexiHub on both machines using the same FlexiHub login credentials.
  5. Use the FlexiHub window on the guest operating system to locate the USB device you want and click ”Connect”.

That’s all you need to implement Vbox USB passthrough. Your virtual session will be able to use the device just as if it had a direct connection to the equipment. FlexiHub is a fully cross-platform solution and supports Windows, Linux, Android, and Mac operating systems.

How to connect USB to VirtualBox

VirtualBox also has the capability to allow virtual machines to directly access USB devices connected to the host OS. The guest OS is presented with a virtual USB controller by VirtualBox. When a USB device is connected to the guest system, it is no longer available on the host machine.

Here are simple instructions on how to connect USB in VirtualBox

  1. First, you need to install the VirtualBox Extension Pack.
  2. After installation, start your virtual machine under whichever supported guest OS you choose.
  3. Plug the USB device in an open USB interface on the host computer.
  4. Navigate to Devices -> USB, and click on “USB device to share”.
Virtualbox usb passthrough

After VirtualBox accesses the USB device will appear in the guest operating system. Your VM will have the same functionality as if it had a direct connection. This allows VirtualBox to connect iPhone and other USB devices remotely. An important note is that only one virtual or physical machine can access the USB device at any given time.

Access USB in VirtualBox with filters

Once USB support is enabled for a virtual environment, you can control which devices are connected to the guest automatically. This is accomplished with filters that focus on specific USB device properties. Devices that match your designated filters will be automatically connected to the guest after the host is attached. Devices that do not match the filter are not excluded from use in the guest session. They can be added manually to the guest through the operating system’s Device -> USB menu.

The USB Device Filters window is where you create new filters. You can name them for easy reference and specify different criteria in each filter. You can precisely control which devices are selected by creating as many filters as you need.

When setting up VirtualBox USB on Windows 10 system, it is required that you unplug and reconnect a USB device in order for it to be affected by filters created to control its behavior.


Requirements: Windows XP/2003/2008/Vista/7/8/10/Server 2012
Size: 7MB
Version: 4.0.12820 ()
User rating: (4.8 based on 78+ users )