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How to Boot VirtualBox from USB Windows 10?

  • Published on:  November 25th, 2020
  • Updated on:  April 1, 2022
  • Read Time:  6 minutes

VirtualBox boot from USB windows 10 allowing you to boot a live Linux system or install an operating system from a bootable USB device. This option is well-hidden. This method has not the complete clearance in it as it isn’t exposed completely and requires some digging. Hence, it may not be perfect every time. Otherwise,  it can work perfectly in the case of Ubuntu 14.04 on a Windows host. But don’t surprise yourself if you encounter problems in this process. You will get to know all the methods for it through this article. So, let’s begin without wasting any time.

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VirtualBox Boot From USB Windows 10

Here we use all the hidden features of VirtualBox that allow raw access to drives. After all, this feature isn’t exposed yet, not even in the Virtual machine USB boot interface but is part of the VBoxManage command. So, check whether you have VirtualBox installed on your system before you start this process.

  • In order to VirtualBox boot from USB, connect the USB/flash drive that contains the operating system you want to boot to your computer. 
  • Now follow the command, press Windows Key + R, type diskmgmt.msc into the Run dialogue and press Enter to open the Disk Management window.
  • Here go to the USB drive from the Disk Management sections on the window and note down the number of the disk. Take this as an example, here I’ll show you the USB drive is Disk 1.
  • In case you have an open Virtual machine USB boot window, close them first.
  • And then, open a Command Prompt as Administrator. 

Note: Open the command prompt follow the process to boot VirtualBox from USB

  • In your Windows 7, go to the Start menu, here type Command Prompt, click the right mouse button on it, and select Run it as administrator. In case, if you are using Windows 8 or 8.1, press Windows Key + X and click Command Prompt (Administrator).

VirtualBox boot from USB

  • Now, this is the most important part you have to follow. You have to type the following command into the Command Prompt window and press  Enter. After you do this your VirtualBox’s default installation directory will be changed. And when you install the VirtualBox to the directory of your choice, then you have changed the path with a command that contains the path of your own VirtualBox directory:

cd %programfiles%\Oracle\VirtualBox

VirtualBox boot from USB


  • Once you complete the above part, open Command Prompt window and type the above code in it. 

Note: Replacing # with the number of the disk you found and finally press the enter button.

VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename C:\usb.vmdk -rawdisk \\.\PhysicalDrive#

  • Now replace the C:\usb.vmdk with any other file path of your choice. As this will create a Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) file that simply directs/points to the physical drive of your choice. VirtualBox accesses the physical drive when you try to load the VMDK file as a drive-in VirtualBox.

VirtualBox boot from USB

  • Next, open VirtualBox as Administrator. Click on the VirtualBox shortcut and Run it as an administrator. In this way, VirtualBox can take access to raw disk devices in administrator mode.

open virtual box

  • Now create a new virtual machine, for that follow the instructions:
  • Click on the New button and go to your wizard section. Finally, choose the OS from the USB drive when it is prompted.

choose the os

  • When you’re asked to select a hard disk, select the existing virtual hard drive file that you used previously. Then, press the button to browse the file, and find it — that’s C:\usb.vmdk. In case, you are unable to select your own path.
  • You have to boot the virtual machine first. After that, boot the operating system from your USB drive. There is nothing changed in the steps, you have to do booting as you do it on your normal computer.
  • Check correctly that the USB device places first in the list of a disk partition, and first hard disk in your virtual machine. Because if it isn’t then you won’t be able to VirtualBox boot from USB. Hence, you can’t simply create a standard virtual machine and attach the USB device later.
  • If you want to install an operating system from the USB drive, you have to attach a hard disk later. It is done only from the virtual machine’s settings window. But make yourself sure that the USB drive is the first disk in the Disk Management partition list.

Linux and Mac Hosts

If you want to boot on Linux and Mac host systems then you have to go through with the same steps. All the commands of VBoxManage you have to use, to create a file representing the raw disk. But in the case of Linux or Mac systems, you’ll need to describe the path to the disk device.

You can search it on google or any other open discussion platform. As there are lots of tips and workarounds on VirtualBox boot from USB Windows 10, that helps you to use this process on Linux or Mac hosts. Taking the help of raw host hard disks from a guest section in VirtualBox’s official documentation helps you a lot.

Best Method to Boot VirtualBox from USB windows 10

While booting a Virtual machine, there may be chances of data corruption due to which you will not be able to properly boot the Virtual Machine. With the help of professional third-party VMDK Recovery Software, you can restore the corrupted data of the Virtual Machine in less time. This will make your booting process easier and faster. 

Final Words

In this technical blog, we’ll cover the topic of how to boot VirtualBox from Windows 10. We’ve used manual methods as well as professional tools to boot from the flash drive. However, manual methods are pretty time-consuming. Due to this, users sometimes miss the steps and corrupt or lose their data. In case you lost your data, instantly take the help of VMDK software that will help you to get your data back. Although, it is good to have this utility to open vmdk in Windows 10 before you try to do booting.

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