Boot from a USB drive using VirtualBox (new method with full rd/wr access)


This video shows you how to MBR and UEFI-boot from a USB drive using VirtualBox with full read/write access to the USB drive. Use Virtual Box Version 5 (do not use with VBox 6).
It automatically creates the .vmdk file for the USB drive and dismounts the drive to give VBox full rd/wr access so the drive is not snapshotted. This means it will boot anything from DOS to Linux to Windows 10 from a USB drive without any problem! You can set up VMs for 64-bit UEFI and 32-bit UEFI as well as LegacyMBR BIOSes.
This method is much better than using Plop (which uses a read-only USB 2.0 driver and so any writes to the USB drive don’t actually work). If you boot VBOX to DOS, grub4dos, grub, syslinux, Win98, etc. from a USB drive you will find that writes to the USB drive do not work unless you use DavidB’s VMUB utility.
This shows you how to use DavidB’s Virtual Machine USB Boot Utility with VirtualBox.
Using this combination, you can boot from any USB drive (including Easy2Boot USB drives). USB 3.0 drives will boot nice and fast too!


DavidB’s Boot Utility v1.6



You can also UEFI-boot too. Make a VM with a 64-bit OS set and tick the BIOS EFI Advanced checkbox. For 32-bit UEFI-booting, pick a 32-bit OS for the VM type. Make sure Graphics VGA memory is larger than 64MB.

Tip: Do NOT configure the VM – Settings – USB as the boot drive or it will not boot!
IMPORTANT: Make sure to run both VMUB and VBox as Administrator.


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  1. I don't get it. 😀 Why not just run a vmware like workstation on your machine if is still not portable?
    Or educate me if I understand wrong?
    What I hope to achieve here is I can Run an OS in a Flash Drive w/o Booting any pc.
    Like when I go to any internet cafe and just insert my flash drive and run a different OS, no restarting, no booting.. Is that possible? I know its 2013 when you post this video. Or are you still alive? its 2019 already. Please reply if you are still alive. 😀 XD

  2. I've got an existing XP.vhd that I'd like to run as portable/live.. preferably such that the same usb can boot from either BIOS or UEFI.

    Is there a way to make the usb so that it boots directly to XP, without prompting the user?

    It seems most tools warn of sata or firadisk/winvblock issues with XP.. is there a way to modify the vhd ahead of time to avoid this?

  3. thnks Steve for The method ….Just Wanted to Ask if the usb virtual machine perform all functions like Can i Play games On it ??

  4. hi steve
    thanks for your answer i'm very appreciate your help and the time you spent to help other people
    thanks alot

  5. hi steve
    i think there is a bug in one of the two program
    i'm using virtualbox 5.1.14 and vmub 1.51 i spent about a day to make vm for my usb
    step by step with your video no mistakes over and over again even uninstall the programs clear registry and install again but keep getting the error no bootable media found
    and suddenly it worked something is wrong do you familiar with that problem

    I just found your crystal ball
    i uninstalled the two apps and installed again config again
    and it work thanks a lot
    (do also repair led tv)

  7. hi steve
    "…i did as shown but i got the message of" no bootable medium
    there is no cdrom so how can i make usb bootable in virtualbox


    I had my beloved laptop with dual boot Zorin Linux and Win 7, then the motherboard burned and had to wait till i earned to buy a new pc. The hardware was better than my 1st one but was one of those Only Win8 (Fuck you UEFI) and no matter what i count boot from my old HDD, only as a 2nd tier slave. then wanted to change from Zorin to Arch but i needed to get into Win7 in order to delete safely Zorin and i thought i was at a corned and then this video poped up, anyway long story short, i got exactly what i wanted !!

    (^__^/) THANK YOUUUUUU !!

  9. Hi, Thanks. I was able to install Windows 7 on my VM via USB flash drive however I have another problem now. I need every time to plugin USB flash drive and lunch VM via Virtual Machine USB Boot.
    My goal was only to install Windows 7 from USB drive on VM and it seems to me I can not accomplish this goal using the methods suggested in your video.
    Any help appreciated.

  10. Mine starts to load then says "Loading, please wait…" and it doesn't boot. I've tried different ways and nothing seems to get it to boot past loading please wait.

  11. i can't get the usb drive to boot in UEFI mode, how can i get it to boot in UEFI mode using a usb 3.0 drive? , it boots just fine when not using UEFI on virtualbox, but i'd like to test the drive before i deploy o.s on a machine, so i know it will boot on a UEFI based machine

  12. Dear Friend despues de tanto tiempo que busqué esta información con tu video logré cargar la USB Boot y poder instalar el Windows 7 Alienware 29.1 que estaba esperando ver como funciona soy docente (professor) y bueno con esto finalmente lo pude hacer.  Mil gracias.  Congratulations for you you are excellent.  God bless you.

  13. we do have few options to boot the Virtual machine from teh USB. But can we do something so that it boots permanently from the Virtual machine rather than USB?
    I got a linux bootable image and it got plenty of modules loaded. Using PLPBT.iso I was able to successfully boot into the VM. But I need to connect the USB everytime. can I make a image of it so that I can boot it from VM always and I dont have to rely on that USB ? any idea ?

  14. Hi i am trying to install windows xp on my usb in virtual machine. The reason why i do it there is because i don't have windows 8 install disk(my os) so if i install it, my windows 8 boot manager will be corrupted so i don't wanna try that.

    When i set up my usb as a .vmdk file and lauch it in virtualbox and try to install windows xp itr doesn't work. I think it has to do with permissions by the computer because when i format my physical usb drive it says it has viruses or is corrupted but if i launch a file from it (cuz it is not formated) the file works fine.
    so how do i format it without any problem?

  15. Thank you so much for this detailed walk through! Thanks to you I managed to boot into my USB, please keep up the good work! 

  16. Hi Steve:

    Thanks for the video very helpful. Quick question: how we can do the same thing but with Virtualbox running on Mac or Linux?



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