How To Share And Write Files Between Host and Guest Operating Systems On Oracle VirtualBox

Written by Chaks

Topics: Articles, How To, Software Review, Windows

If you need to access the Host operating system’s hard disk from the Guest operating system which is running on Oracle’s Virtual Box, here is the process. Host OS is the one where you are primarily logging into your computer and installed the Virtual Box. Guest OS are the operating systems installed on the Virtual Box. I usually keep all my source and executable files on the host operating system, so that they can be accessed from the different Guest OS running on Virtual Box. This also minimizes file duplicates and saves your internet bandwidth. Virtual Box also allows you to write files from Guest OS to a shared folder in the Host OS when the shared setting is write enabled.

Step 1:

Open the VirtualBox Manager. Stop the Guest OS if it is running already (You can also setup a shared folder from the Guest OS, but we are setting it now from the VirtualBox Manager).

Oracle VM Virtual Box

Step 2:

Select the desired Guest OS and open the Settings window

Click on the Shared Folders item on the left side of the Settings window

Click on the + Folder Icon on the right portion of the Shared Folders Settings window

VirtualBox Add Shared Folder

Step 3:

Select / Enter the Host OS folder which you want to access from the Guest OS

Give a name to the shared folder. It can be any thing. The below dialog is would be slightly different depending on how you are accessing this window.

VirtualBox Add Shared Folder

  • Read-only: Make the shared folder read-only to the Guest OS. Un-check the Read-only if you want the Guest OS to write data to the shared folder of the Host OS
  • Auto-mount: When checked, the Guest OS will try to automatically mount the shared folder on startup.
  • Make Permanent: If checked, this shared folder would be permanent (*This option would show only with in the Guest OS or when the Guest OS is running currently)

Step 4:

Now the folder is shared. You can access the folder with in the virtual machine. The Access column in the below image would show “Full” if you deselect the Read-only option in the above image.

VirtualBox Add Shared Folder

Possible Error: If you make changes to the Shared Folder settings when the Virtual Machine of some Guest OS is running, the the below warning dialog would be showing in the Guest OS Virtual Machine. What ever the changes you are making to these settings would take effect only in the next session.

VirtualBox Broken Shared Folder

24 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. wil says:

    is there a way to share a folder in the guest os with the host?
    eg share my downloads folder in the guest windows 7 so it’ll show up in the host mac finder

  2. Smith says:

    Wil, I don’t think so. There is a point near “Read-only:” description in this article. You can share a folder on your host OS as” Writable”, and from your guest OS just write any data onto the host OS. This way you can share data between all OS. I tried this on Win’7 as host and Ubuntu as the guest. It should work the otherway too.

  3. Vani says:

    How can we access that shared folder from ubuntu running in Oracle virtual box

  4. Smith says:

    Hello Vani, i think you can access it with the file browser of ubuntu.

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  8. sunitha says:

    hi i am new to virtualization
    windows xp is my host os and in virtualbox i have loaded 3 os windows 2000, ubuntu 12.10 and windows xp.
    now my guest windows xp is been corrupted i want to access the folder saved in D drive of this corrupted through another guest os is this possible if so plz let me know the steps.

    note: i dint share the folder of the corrupted os with any other os.

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