How to Enable USB in VirtualBox

If your data center depends on VirtualBox and your virtual machines depend on the USB device, you’ve perhaps noticed that USB doesn’t support by default unless you’ve manually enabled it.

In this article, we will explain to you how to enable USB support on Virtualbox. The current version of VirtualBox 6.0 comes with support for USB 3.0, and to take advantage of it, you need to install the latest version of VirtualBox Extension Pack.

This tutorial presumes that you already installed VirtualBox on your Linux and VirtualBox guest additions on your virtual machines. If you haven’t, you can install it using the following articles.

  1. How to Install Latest VirtualBox 6.0 in Linux
  2. How to Install VirtualBox 6 in Debian and Ubuntu
  3. How to Install Oracle VirtualBox 6.0 in OpenSUSE
  4. Install VirtualBox Guest Additions in CentOS, RHEL & Fedora
  5. How to Install VirtualBox Guest Additions in Ubuntu

How to Install the VirtualBox Extension Pack

To install the latest version of Extension Pack, head over to the Virtualbox Downloads page and grab the file for All supported platforms.

1. Once you’ve downloaded, open up VirtualBox –> Click File –> Preferences in the Menu.

VirtualBox Preferences
VirtualBox Preferences

2. Next, click on the Extension tab and then click the + sign.

Virtualbox Extension
Virtualbox Extension

3. Select the downloaded Extension Pack and install it as shown.

Install Virtualbox Extension Pack
Install Virtualbox Extension Pack

4. Scroll through the Virtualbox License and then click I Agree button to install it.

Virtualbox License Agreement
Virtualbox License Agreement

5. Enter your sudo password and allow the installation to finish.

Installing Virtualbox Extension Pack
Installing Virtualbox Extension Pack
Installed Virtualbox Extension Pack
Installed Virtualbox Extension Pack

Enabling USB Access to User

To allow a user to access the USB subsystem, you need to add the user (running VirtualBox) to the vboxusers group using the following command.

$ sudo usermod -aG vboxusers <USERNAME>

Where USERNAME is the name of the user running the VirtualBox.

Add User to vboxusers Group
Add User to vboxusers Group

Once the command runs successfully, logout and log back into the system.

Enabling USB Support in VirtualBox

Start up VirtualBox, right-click on the virtual machine that needs access to a USB device, and click Settings.

VirtualBox VM Settings
VirtualBox VM Settings

In the virtual machine’s Setting tab, click on USB to see the available USB devices. Click on the + sign to add a new device.

Enable USB Support in VM
Enable USB Support in VM

Once USB device added, start up the virtual machine to have access to the data on the USB device. If you want to enable more USB devices, go back into the Settings –> USB and add the devices.

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4 thoughts on “How to Enable USB in VirtualBox”

  1. Jeez Louise thank you so much. I tried so many different things to get USB working, and nothing helped. Even this article is a bit misleading, as that first command you put in the “Enabling USB Access to User” section is wrong. The command in the screenshot below it worked, though.

    $ sudo gpasswd -a  vboxusers
    
    Reply
  2. I always forget about “Enabling USB Access to User” and end up on your article when the USB isn’t showing up in settings. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. I believe using Linux installed as bare metal. I’m running Linux in a virtual box, but it is running on a Windows 8 machine. My error says ‘vxboxusers does not exist in etc/group. Which it shouldn’t as the group hasn’t been installed yet. I’ll look into creating the group and then adding the user and see what happens.

    Reply
  4. I own a Thinkpad R60 on which I’ve just installed VirtualBox 5.1.38 (with the extension pack) as a Linux Mint 18.1 host and I have installed Windows 2000 Professional w/ service pack 4 as a guest. The guest loads properly. I have a Verbatim 64 Gb USB drive in the USB port. VB is not recognizing the existence of the USB drive when I click on settings and go to the USB section. The Enable USB Controller is checked and the USB 2.0 Controller is selected. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply

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