VirtualBox: access Windows-host shared folders from Ubuntu-guest

This is the scenario that you run Windows as your host operating system and Ubuntu in a VirtualBox, and that you want to access a specific Windows folder from Ubuntu.

First you have to make sure that have install Guest Additions. From the VirtualBox’s menu go to Devices → Install Guest Additions… This will mount a virtual CD on your /media/cdrom. Normally this folder’s window will show up. As root run the program VBoxLinuxAdditions.run. When the program completes reboot your VirtualBox.

With Guest Additions installed you may now go ahead and define the shared folder(s). From the VirtualBox’s menu go to Devices → Shared Folders. A dialog will show up. In this dialog you can specify which folder from your Windows system you want to share with your Ubuntu. Press the button with the + symbol to add a new shared folder in the list. You will have to specify a Folder Name for each folder you add. Make sure you memorize that name because you will need it very soon.

When done with you shared folder(s) specification, you may now go ahead and actually mount these folders from Ubuntu. First you have to create a mounpoint, that is, a directory in your Ubuntu which will reflect the shared folder from Windows:

# sudo mkdir /media/windows-share

Of course you may choose an alternative path for your mountpoint. With your mountpoint created you can now mount the shared folder, like this:

# sudo mount -t vboxsf folder-name /media/windows-share

Where folder-name will be the name you assigned for this folder when you were adding it in the shared folders list.

You could use the /etc/init.d/rc.local script to execute these commands on startup to have the shared folders automatically mounted every time you start your Ubuntu VirtualBox.

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122 Responses to VirtualBox: access Windows-host shared folders from Ubuntu-guest

  1. Pablo says:

    Very useful!!!
    thanks a lot for this article…

    From Chile – Southamerica

    pamorale

  2. Pindey says:

    thank you so much!!!

  3. Pindey says:

    One question though, how do I used the ” /etc/init.d/rc.local” ?

  4. vastan says:

    but in my machine, i get this message

    mount: unknown filesystem type ‘vboxsf’

  5. D'Amico says:

    This is just what I needed! I would add that the shared folder may need to be in the following directory: C:Program FilesSunxVM VirtualBox

  6. SeanG says:

    Works like a CHARM. THANKS for outlining this.

  7. Kaiyuan says:

    Sorry, I’m pretty new to OS stuff, so my question might be quite low level.

    Qn) There are several VBoxLinuxAdditions(sth).run. How do I know which one I should choose?

  8. Eric says:

    Great tip, thanks for sharing this! FYI this is what I added to my Ubuntu VirtualBox guest /etc/rc.local file (top section of rc.local omitted). It now connects to the shared folder automatically on startup, as the blog owner stated. Very cool! (I have _VirtualBoxShared added under Vbox menu Devices > Shared Folders. _VirtualBoxShared is the name of the actual folder on my Windows Vista host box.) The folder ubushare is what I created instead of the tutorials /media/windows-share example.

    #
    # By default this script does nothing.

    mount -t vboxsf _VirtualBoxShared /home/ubuntu/ubushare

    exit 0

  9. Ran says:

    Finally, a quick solution that works! Thank you!

  10. fisher says:

    I’ve followed the guide and I still can’t get this to work.

    After I set up the folders I keep getting this :

    fisher@fisher-laptop:~$ sudo mount -t vboxsf VBShare /home/fisher
    [sudo] password for fisher:
    /sbin/mount.vboxsf: mounting failed with the error: Protocol error

    Can anyone help me out with this?

  11. dolphin says:

    thanks for sharing this, couldn’t be easier !

  12. codeamatic says:

    thanks for sharing, this definitely was a quick solution to my problem… much appreciated…!!!

  13. An Aspiring Person says:

    I have a question… Is it possible to unmount the shared folder??? I accidentally put it in the wrong directory…I’m an ubuntu noob…

  14. mj says:

    thanks ,a lot ….it really workssssssss

  15. Badri says:

    Thanks a lot!! Very helpful article.

  16. Badri says:

    Thanks a lot!!

  17. saycat says:

    A great solution, thanks!

  18. stuntpilot says:

    Great site! You really helped me with the shared folders in virtualbox.

    Good luck being smoke free!

    You made the right decision.

  19. ubuntuuser says:

    mount is not working for me!

    but I use this command instead:

    mount.vboxsf NAME /PATH/TO/FOLDER

  20. Thanks for documenting this. I’m used to a few other VM tools where this is all automagic, I couldn’t figgure out why it wasn’t working.

  21. zourtney says:

    Anyone having problems might be helped be this link:
    http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=17827#p77284

    I was initially getting something along the lines of “filesystem vboxsf unknown” but resolved it by following the steps in that post.

    Note: do not run “guest additions” shell script from the window manager — use the command line. I tried running the script by double clicking on it and it did not work (permission problem, probably).

    Works now!

  22. Alex says:

    >>I have a question… Is it possible to unmount the shared folder??? >>I accidentally put it in the wrong directory…I’m an ubuntu noob…

    I had the same problem =)
    To unmount folder use this:
    sudo umount /media/windows-share
    where /media/windows-share – your wrong directiory

  23. Kemi says:

    I’ve spent about 20 hours trying to find help on this… and found your article, which solved my issue in 2 minutes! Thanks!

  24. lunix rookie says:

    as clear as crystal.
    Thanks

  25. Christine says:

    This was very useful, thanks!

  26. Jimbo says:

    @fisher
    - Check to make sure that “vboxsf” is the name of your shared folder in “Devices > Shared Folders”. That was causing the same error for me.

  27. Colin Phelps says:

    This is a great article. The only suggestion as a Linux newbie is that a detailed explanation of the sybtax would be great to get a complete understanding.

  28. Anton says:

    Glad I found this article. You saved me many hours of going throuhg the docs. Thanks !

  29. SRib says:

    Help a newbie

    How do i avoid to insert sudo mount -t vboxsf folder-name /media/windows-share
    every time a start ubuntu?
    And how to make it available at “PLACES”

    tks in advance

  30. SRib says:

    forgot to add

    great post :)

  31. FID says:

    Hi,

    Thanks a lot! Worked great!

  32. Tim says:

    I had to:

    sudo apt-get install dkms

    then reinstall the guest additions, reboot and then:

    sudo mount -t vboxsf folder-name /media/windows-share

    and it worked.

  33. Debasis Goswami says:

    Wonderful! It worked exactly as the article published. Helps me playing with my Linux toy :)

  34. Ankush says:

    thanks a lot. . .It’s really an easy solution to the specified problem! ! ! nd ur solution works like a charm! ! ! ! ! !

  35. mo says:

    so far that sums up my linux experience. why do i have to do something as fundamental as mounting a drive using the command line?? i don’t want to go back to the DOS days, it’s 2009 not 1989. could you please describe how to do this using a gui?!!

  36. Duncan says:

    Nice one. I *needed* this info :)

  37. donnie says:

    To have the shared folder show up when you boot Ubuntu, add a line like this in /etc/fstab:

    folder-name /media/windows-share vboxsf uid=myusername 0 2

    Don’t use a startup script to mount a filesystem.

  38. Glen says:

    fisher, I had this problem too

    You need to run the command from another dir (e.g. do not run it from the /media dir)

    Anyways, great tutorial – Thanks!

  39. Pankaj Kumar says:

    Thanks… it worked… :)

  40. Chris says:

    Just as an alternative – you can configure your guest network adapter as bridged. This will allow the guest to get an address on the same subnet as your host from the DHCP server. From there, you can use WinSCP to copy files back from a linux installation that has SSH set up on it.

  41. Kerem says:

    Perfect Thank you it works

  42. john mower says:

    had to use mount.vboxsf, mount -t vboxsf wouldn’t work for me. thanks!

  43. Dan says:

    Hi, I did the above and it works, but I can’t write to it from Ubunto, it say’s Permission denied. I tried to sudo chmod, sudo chown. In the virtual box I did set it to mount permanently, but did not check off readonly. In windows I did the same. I can write as root, but just not as the regular user

  44. TuanAnh says:

    Awesome, thank you so much!

  45. MCdatashed says:

    Thanks loads for this! Very easy to follow and helpful.

  46. Mr T says:

    Worked like a charm! Thanks!

  47. Teiji says:

    Thanks. Now I can share files. Also, thanks donnie for the tips.

    Now, to figure how to make the windows-share as a desktop shortcut….

  48. Teiji says:

    “Now, to figure how to make the windows-share as a desktop shortcut…. ”

    Nvm, ctrl+ shift drag did the trick. :)

  49. neftalí says:

    Good tip. Thank you.

  50. Valmond says:

    Excellent, a Big Thanks!!!!

  51. Georg says:

    Great!
    Also works well for USB-Sticks. (I never found a way to reliably accesss them under VirtualBox.) Thanks!

  52. scott says:

    thanks for the pointer. i did this and it worked flawlessly.

    so i got the brilliant idea to share a fat32 usb disc rather than repartition my ntfs drive (permissions issues with ntfs not fun). so i shared my empty usb disc and mounted it, but i couldn’t ls on the disc. said:

    “/bin/ls: cannot open directory .: Operation not permitted.”

    what the? it worked 2 minutes ago!

    it seems the disc IS working, but for some reason ls fails on an empty disc. so i created a text file:
    vi hi.txt

    i edited and saved the file. worked fine. i was then able to ls on the top-level directory.

  53. Pranav says:

    Thanks … It really helped me to mount a windows shared box on Ubuntu

  54. subodh says:

    Really simple and nice blog

  55. Pssh says:

    Why in the world does this require us to use the command line? Ridiculous. Make it show up as a virtual thumb drive or something.

  56. Junix says:

    If you’re root (“#” signal is showed), why do you proceed sudo command?

  57. Mondrok says:

    Thank you. Worked great!

    @Teiji: Thanks for the “ctrl+ shift drag” tip!

  58. Vicer says:

    Thank you very much. Worked like a charm.

  59. David says:

    Thank you a lot for this. VirtualBox configuration is confusing. You were clear and it works perfectly.

    Congratulations!

  60. David says:

    I typed “configuration” meaning “documentation” lol

    I’m sorry, I’m too sleepy :P

  61. Matthew says:

    I can see the entire c: drive when I do an ls -la ~/shared. but when try to cp a file to ~/shared I get “cp: cannot create regular file `/home/mrentz/shared/redmine-0.9.3.tar.gz’: Protocol error.”

    What am I doing wrong?

    It would be awesome to get it working now that I’ve got this far.

    Cheers!

  62. Matthew says:

    Forget previous message… I’ve figured it out and got it going. I just cd’ied into ~/shared/vboxsf (which is on the C:/ drive) and did a cp ~/path/file .
    boom boom and wallah!

    p.s. this is my first submission to an online post “ever”!

    I think you people who read and help on these things are Sooooo Coooool

  63. Dustin says:

    You freakin rock… I too had to run the installation via command line though.

  64. pritesh says:

    you save my time. Bunch of thanks.

  65. Manish Zedwal says:

    Many many thanks buddy.
    V.Good.

  66. LS says:

    Thanks a lot for posting this, it worked like a charm. Will link this later when I write it down on my blog.

  67. jitendra says:

    thanxxx
    hey buddy can u help me in starting opensource developement under linux

  68. Pranav says:

    Excellent…thanks. I followed it and worked great. I was looking for it for a while now. It works great. Thanks a lot.

  69. Ming the Merciless says:

    Thanks for posting – this issue seems to cause a lot of confusion.

    However, I do think the posters who wish to see how to mount the drive in the Ubuntu GUI.

  70. Ming the Merciless says:

    Thanks for posting – this issue seems to cause a lot of confusion.

    However, I do think the posters who wish to see how to mount the *folder* in the Ubuntu GUI.

  71. Tareq says:

    thanks dude :)

  72. Jarek says:

    Thanks!

  73. ristarr11 says:

    Thank you!

  74. Randee Ashell says:

    Thank you, I have checked other tutorials and they were not successful but this one worked a charm. Thanks

  75. Joseph says:

    Thanks, this is really helpful!

  76. Noobulon says:

    Ok this is great n all but… when I try to mount I get
    user@user-desktop:/$ sudo mount -t vboxsf PDWNLDS /home/user/pdwnlds
    [sudo] password for user:
    /sbin/mount.vboxsf: mounting failed with the error: No such file or directory

    User=me but not real me

    so WTF? Ive been working to solve this issue for 6 days now! Fracking G@Y! I have the folder shared etc and it still wont mount, been to hundereds of sites without any success and even tried to get a product to mount the virtual disk so I can just extract my fracking data…you know if all you linux people want others to use linux instead of windows…MAKE IT FRACKING SIMPLER and GUI FRIENDLY!! So tired of this l33t speak shit makes me want to puke JUST TELL WHAT THE FRACKING SOLUTION IS and GET IT OVER WITH!

  77. bart says:

    @Noobulon,
    I had the exact same problem. What I had done wrong was I hadn’t written the path correctly. I’d double check the path if I were you.

  78. Ricky Jay 'Dotcom' says:

    I have a problem When I install an error occured it says that “unknown file system ‘vboxsf’ ”
    By the way I’m using Ubuntu 10.10 is it because of the version or what??

    please tell me about this problem immediate action is highly appreciated. :D

    Dotcom

  79. joseph says:

    Thanks! great resource…

  80. bigDee says:

    Thanks for this simplicity. It works but in my case I need to run through the whole process including installation… I am newbie… any clues?

  81. How about if i’m using live cd to run ubuntu 8.04 on vbox ?, is’nt work properly…..

  82. .ny says:

    Thank you for precisely showing how to do this. It works! Thanks again! I am confused on how to make changes to rc.local because it opens read-only but I’m a newbie and sure I’m doing something wrong. Probably rights related. Also, another user recommended modifying fstab instead of rc.local – not sure what the difference is and what’s better. Thanks!

  83. Michigan says:

    I’m running a Vista host and Kubuntu 10.10 guest.
    Thanks for your excellent article. I’m new to this. It only took me two days to do this. So many people have posted replies I thought I should try to remember what worked for me. I finished about midnight so it’s kind of a blur but here is what I can remember. First I got errors when installing the VB Additions I copied the error into Google and found this VB forum post http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?t=15679 that states extra packages must be installed. After doing that VB Additions installed correctly.
    I created a shared folder in windows C:AA and a shared forlder in Linux in my home dir called ‘host’.
    I used Dolphin to create the linux folder.
    I had a lot of trouble with: sudo mount -t vboxsf folder-name /media/windows-share
    My errors were using a path for the windows ‘folder-name’ like win-pcAA. All that’s needed is the folder name ‘aa’.
    Also, the win and linux folder names must be different.
    Writing to ‘/etc/init.d/rc.local’ must be done as root. This page http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?t=15868 also helped change the ownership from root to me.
    Thanks again.

  84. ECM says:

    This worked great! Thanks!

  85. hitman says:

    to mount the shared folder @ boot time, add the following commands in a terminal.

    sudo su

    gedit /etc/init.d/rc.local

    mount -t vboxsf VMshare-win /home/hitman/Desktop/VMshare-Ubu

    where “VMshare-win” is the folder created in Windows host OS
    and
    “VMshare-Ubu” is the folder created on Ubuntu guest OS.
    note: add the last line @ the end of rc.local file.

  86. Rui says:

    Took me a great deal of time to get this solved. As I read somewhere before, it isn’t at all expected that any Ubuntu user as to deal with DOS like commands to get things going, especially newcomers.

    I found a webpost with the easiest solution to sharing folders between Host OS (Win7) and Guest OS (Ubuntu 11.04) with VirtualBox:

    http://www.manhinli.net/blog/2011/03/18/permanently-sharing-folders-in-virtualbox-4-0-4-with-ubuntu-10-10-guest/

    I hope this saves a lot of someone else’s time looking for a way to make things work!

  87. HaTh says:

    I found this when trying to set up share folder(s) between BackTrack guest OS with XP 2000 Prof host. Hope this also saves your time too!

    http://foxlinx.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/virtualbox-installation-windows-host-with-a-backtrack-4-guest-and-virtualbox-linux-guest-additions/

  88. john says:

    Hi HItman,
    I tried to do the same u mentioend regarding adding the command to etc by gedit, but I have run into problems. Now, when ever I open my places and enter home folder, I am not able to open the folder, but it opens gedit with error showing /home/ is not the directory. How can I solve this problem and revert back to see my home folder.

  89. kola says:

    hello
    every time when i reboot share folder does.t work
    why ?
    help me

  90. Konstantinos says:

    Thanx!
    This was really helpful!

    K.

  91. atctex says:

    Worked great!
    Many thanks!

  92. Pat says:

    Worked great! The Unbuntu and VirtualBox sites were unclear in their instructions, and had bad examples. You laid it out simply and it worked the first time! Thanks!

  93. CudaDude says:

    Worked, very good instructions. I have been searching on the web and have found many instructions but never explained in a maner I could understand or apply. Thanks.

  94. Xeelee says:

    Thanks! Really helpful for a newbie that just started using virtualbox and ubuntu. search all over for this.

  95. Tayyip Erdoğan says:

    Thanx bitch :D

  96. Mangesh says:

    thanks a lot .it worked for me….

  97. Tadrash Shah says:

    Thanks a lot..I have been searching for this since long…

  98. wathmal says:

    yes, its working and thank you so much, i’ve been searching for this for hours and finally solved!
    thanks in advanced!

  99. I’ll right away clutch your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me recognize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  100. Matt says:

    I’m using this guide as part of my edx.org course. First thanks for sharing. Now for the issue I had (and solved).
    I’m not a Linux person, so this wasn’t obvious for me, but when creating the share as above I found I could not write to the share from the guest system, I got a “permission denied” message when trying to do mkdir which sucked when trying to use GIT having to sudo everything. (Note the host is OSx so this might be a Unix permissions issue, Windows users may have it easier?)

    As a solution to the Permission Denied error:
    1) I put the OSx host folder somewhere freely writable (IE. to be on the (un)safe side) in my public folder and shared it. Note I’m on VPN so no worries about intruders in my home office! this part isn’t a great way to solve this though.. comments anyone?).
    2) Did all of the above. No issues.
    3) Checked I could ‘see’ the host from in Ubuntu.
    4) And this is the magic… Do this on the shared folder in Ubuntu to make it writable to your ‘regular’ account
    sudo chmod 777 ~/Documents/MyShare

    The above plus the host machine permissions combined allowed me to write to the folders from both my OSx machine and the Unbutu virtual box.

    Anyone with tips on how I could do without using the public folder on OSx please comment! It’s not an ideal solution…

  101. Issa says:

    Thanks a lot!

  102. thanassis says:

    ΘΑΥΜΑΣΙΕΣ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΕΣ!!!! ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΟΥΜΕ

    I did all than and works. I even add the script at the end of /etc/init.d/rc.local and its ok. Thanks a lot!!!

  103. GRoman says:

    For Mac OS user see thread http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1398340 to get help on permission issues.

  104. Stanko says:

    Thank you.

  105. Jonie says:

    Guys,
    A super noob and Linux’s and VirtualBox here.
    How was it for this one:
    # sudo mount -t vboxsf folder-name /media/windows-share

    if I wanted my Shared Folder on my other Windows drive (e.g. D:My Shared)?

  106. Jonie says:

    Haha, stupeee meee!
    I’m talking about the ‘Folder Path’ (duh) (on the Edit Share dialog), when all I have to use is supposed to be the next entry which is ‘Folder Name’…
    Solved on my end,
    Thanks thanks……………….

  107. San says:

    Really helped.. Simple to understand and easy to follow..
    Thanks a lot!!!!

    Cheers!

  108. Pěna says:

    Thank you very much. I’ve been looking for this for a long time :)

  109. Spaceghost says:

    U sir are a genius! I spent almost 3 hours trying to share a folder until i found this site. Thx!!

  110. eric says:

    awesome, exactly what I am looking for

  111. linda says:

    i followed your instructions, $ sudo mkdir/media/windows-share and the machine replies with command not found! i’m using windows 8 host and ubuntu 12.04 as guest on virtual box. somebody help, please, i’m a newbie

  112. Nohal says:

    linda…
    you are missing a space between mkdir and the slash

  113. Tom Ekberg says:

    Why not modify /etc/fstab instead of /etc/init.d/rc.local?

  114. James Wilson says:

    Fully Agreed with the points here, and it shows a great deal of correct sense. Thanks for the wonderful flow of information 

  115. Apoorva BT says:

    THank you so much ! Am a newbie and this helped me a lot !

  116. suhas says:

    Loads of thanks for posting this!! Very useful and saved a lot of time!! I was just banging my head around for sharing folders…. Great work!!

  117. bernadette says:

    thank you so much! I needed this for a project. :)

  118. Danielle says:

    Thanks a lot!

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