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VirtualBox USB Dongle: How to Use USB License Dongle with VirtualBox

Editorial Team Editorial Team Jul 30, 2023

Virtualization allows you to run multiple operating systems on a single computer. Although these virtual machines share the resources of the physical computer (host), you still need a VirtualBox USB dongle system to access a USB security key before you can run certain programs.

While building a VirtualBox USB passthrough is possible, users frequently complain that the VirtualBox USB connectivity is unstable. This connection method only allows users to access security dongles attached to the physical computer.

In this article, we'll explain how you can create a reliable VirtualBox USB dongle connection . We'll also explore all the possible solutions you can try when sharing a dongle through VirtualBox.

Use Dedicated Software to Redirect the VirtualBox USB Dongle

With Donglify, users can redirect a VirtualBox USB license dongle from Windows\Mac to a VirtualBox. This redirection allows the license to run on the physical and virtual operating environment.
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The software uses a port redirection technology that goes over the TCP/IP network. This technology also allows users to forward USB security dongles to any environment, even when the key is not connected to the physical computer. As a result, Donglify creates a VirtualBox USB license dongle connection that users can rely on anytime.

How to enable USB dongle in VirtualBox

Make a free Donglify account on the software's official website. After signing up, you'll receive a prompt to sign up for one of Donglify's subscription plans. Each plan comes with a 7-day free trial period.
Download and install Donglify on the host computer. The application works perfectly on Windows and Mac operating systems.

Note: Before it can work, you must download the software on the computer connected to the VirtualBox USB dongle setup.
 Install Donglify
Run the Donglify software and sign in with the login details you created on the website.
 Sign to your Donglify account
Open a list of connected USB license keys by clicking on the "+" symbol. To share the key, check the radio button next to your USB dongle and click "Share."
 Sharing a dongle through VirtualBox
On the VB machine, download and run Donglify. After the download, sign into your account, then search for the shared USB dongle in the list to connect to it.
 Connect to shared USB dongle key
After establishing a connection, you'll be able to find the dongle in the display manager. Donglify makes it possible to use the VirtualBox USB license dongle like it was physically connected to the virtual machine environment.

For more information on how to use Donglify to share USB dongles to VirtualBox VMs, please watch this guide:


Key Considerations for USB Dongle Connectivity in VirtualBox with Donglify

Before using the Donglify software to connect a VirtualBox to USB dongles, here are three key conditions to consider:

Internet Connection: It doesn't matter if all your devices are connected to the same LAN. Your machines must be connected to the internet and USB dongles before you can use the USB license in the virtual environment.

Windows and Mac Cross-connectivity: Donglify is a flexible software that works on Windows and Mac operating systems. This means you can cross-connect different operating systems when you want. To do so, you'll need to install the latest version of the software if you want to share dongle keys to a Mac device.

Niche Use Is a Must: The dongle software was created exclusively to share USB dongles. As a result, it's not designed to work with any other USB device type.

How to Perform VirtualBox USB Dongle Capturing

Many users believe it is easy to use USB devices in virtual settings. That's far from the truth. To perform this action, users must first navigate several software layers. Then, they'll interact with the drivers that control the hardware resources they need to get the host and guest operating systems to work together.

There are two ways to handle this complex issue.

"On-The-Fly" option

The first is to apply an "On-The-Fly" mechanism to capture a USB device in a VirtualBox. Use the icon at the bottom of the GUI window to select the USB device. The "✓" next to each name in the list means the device has been captured.

Using a USB filter

The second method involves using a USB filter. This method is more effective and reliable because it offers fast connectivity. For example, a running VM can immediately capture a dongle that is connected to the host operating system. USB filters work best when all devices have individual filters.

Note: If you use a Linux host like Ubuntu or Fedora, it's a bit difficult to use a VirtualBox USB dongle. After you log out or reboot the system, you won't be able to see the connected device list unless you're a member of "vboxusers" with a verified membership.

In summary, here's a short guide on how to capture a USB device using a filter.

  1. Install the VirtualBox extension on your operating system to support USB 2 and USB 3 host controllers.

  2. Double-check to confirm that the VM is configured and that both USB 2 and USB 3 are enabled.

  3. Once the USB device is connected to the host, create a new USB filter for the connected USBs using the VM's guest settings. To do so, go to "VM Settings" → "Port" → "USB." Make new USB filter
  4. Once on this page, delete every value except Name, VendorID, and ProductID. Fill in the appropriate values and let the connected device create the filter. Alternatively, you can also select a name and obtain the VendorID and ProductID.

You can always select a name and obtain the VendorID and ProductID. The method varies depending on the device you use.

• When on a Linux host device, use the command "lsusb" to access the VendorID and ProductID.
• On a Mac OS, check system information to access the VendorID and ProductID.
• For Windows, visit the device manager to obtain the same information.

If you already have a VirtualBox extension installed on your device, you can try a different method when using the filter to capture a USB device. Here's how:

  1. Unplug the USB device.

  2. Login and start the guest virtual environment with the filter. Ensure that all hard drives and VMDK stop before you proceed.

  3. Connect the USB device so that it can capture the filter. Once done, you can control the USB with the guest operating system.
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