How to enable USB in VirtualBox

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VirtualBox USB passthrough without limitations

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

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

FlexiHub

Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
4.8 Rank based on 78+ users
FlexiHub is a complete solution to the problem of accessing USB peripherals in VirtualBox. No more trouble with limited USB support ever!
FlexiHub

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

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1
Sign up for a FlexiHub account. You can also register your account from within the app.
 flexihub account
2
Download the software and select the required number of connections to start a free trial.
 sign up flexihub trial
3
Install the software on both the host and guest operating systems.
 Download Flexihub for VBox
4
Launch FlexiHub on both machines using your FlexiHub login credentials.
 Log in to connect usb to virtualbox
5
Use the FlexiHub window on the guest operating system to locate the USB device you want to access, then click ”Connect”
 add usb to virtualbox
7
That’s all you need to do to implement the Vbox USB passthrough. During the virtual session, you'll be able to use the USB device just as if it had a direct connection to the virtual machine. FlexiHub is a fully cross-platform solution and supports Windows, Linux, Android, and Mac operating systems.

How to connect USB to VirtualBox - native method

Downsides of the native method of VirtualBox USB passthrough

The developers of the popular VirtualBox virtualization platform have consistently overlooked a feature that would have been greatly appreciated by a great many users. The limited support of the USB devices in VirtualBox is one of the most frustrating aspects of the tool, especially when you realize that VirtualBox won’t recognize your USB devices.

There are many reasons why VirtualBox USB support may be important to you. For instance, using an external USB drive to backup data and sending files to a USB printer are everyday tasks that users need to perform routinely. The ability to connect USB equipment to VirtualBox would make it a highly attractive option for anyone who needs a virtual environment.

Access USB from Virtualbox
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Mount the USB device in VirtualBox

Also, VirtualBox can 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 port on the host computer.
  4. Navigate to Devices -> USB, and click on “USB device to share”.
add USB to Virtualbox

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

Access USB in VirtualBox with filters

What is a USB filter in VirtualBox?

With USB filters, you can get a specific USB device mounted in your VirtualBox VMs in the default mode.

Once USB support is enabled for a virtual environment, you’ll be able to control which devices will be connected to the guest OS automatically. This is accomplished with filters that focus on the specific parameters of a USB device. Devices that match your designated filters will be automatically connected to the guest OS once linked to the host. Besides, devices that do not match the filter won’t be excluded from further 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 for each filter. You can keep close tabs on which devices are selected by creating as many filters as you need.

VirtualBox USB Device Filters window

When setting up VirtualBox USB on Windows 10 system, you’ll have to unplug and reconnect a USB device. Otherwise, said device won’t be affected by filters created to control its behavior.

FlexiHub

Requirements: Windows 7/8/10, Server 2012/2016/2019
Size: 6.97MB
Version: 4.1.12932 ()
User rating: (4.8 based on 78+ users)