Move VirtualBox VM to Another Computer [Tutorial]

3 min


It’s super easy to move a VirtualBox VM image to another computer or drive. Here’s how.

Oracle VirtualBox is a popular Virtualization software which enables you to run various operating systems on your computer as guest OS under a primary (host) operating system.

In the earlier articles, I explained how to install operating systems in VirtualBox and several tips.

But what if, you need to move those VMs to another computer with all the settings, configurations and files?

In this article, we will explain how you can export VirtualBox virtual machine images and move it to another computer for set up.

Before you start, make sure you have VirtualBox installed on the target system. The versions of the VirtualBox software, on current and target machine, need NOT be the same. But it is preferable, that you use the same versions for error-free exports.

Move VirtualBox VM to another computer

Export

  • Open VirtualBox and make sure all virtual machines are turned off.
  • Ensure you have sufficient disk space in your computer, preferable in a home drive.
  • Select the Virtual Machine name which you want to move.
  • From the file menu, choose File > Export Appliances [CTRL+E]. See Figure 1.
  • In the new wizard, select the name of the virtual machine (Figure 2).
    • In this screen, you may select more than one virtual machine. The export file will be larger. I would recommend choosing only one.
    • Hit next.
  • In the next screen (Figure 3), under Format, choose the option “Open Virtualization Format 2.0”.
    • File name for export file, i.e. ova file, should be pre-populated. You can also change it if you like.
    • Choose the proper MAC address policy. Keep the default option if you are not sure.
    • Hit next.
  • In the last screen, hit verify and finish (Figure 4).
  • The VirtualBox will start creating an ova file for your virtual machine, and you should see a progress bar. See Figure 5.
  • Wait until it finishes. It will take around ~5 minutes for a standard Linux virtual machine. Might as well take longer based on your virtual machine size.
  • Once finished, copy the ova file to your USB storage/cloud storage or another partition. You should find the ova file in the path you selected in Figure 3.
Export Appliance option
Figure 1: Export Appliance option
Select the VM to export
Figure 2: Select the VM to export
Provide the options for the VM
Figure 3: Provide the options for the VM
Summary of the VM export options
Figure 4: Summary of the VM export options
Exporting the VM
Figure 5: Exporting the VM
Example ova file during my test
Figure 6: Example ova file during my test

Import

  • Boot your target computer and plug-in USB stick.
  • Copy the ova file to any directory. For this example, I have selected Downloads directory.
  • Launch VirtualBox in target machine.
  • From the menu, select Import Appliances [CTRL+I]. See Figure 7.
  • In the import wizard, select Source=Local File system and choose the file under File browse option. See Figure 8.
  • In the next screen (Figure 9), verify machine base folder. I would recommend you not to change this.
    • Also verify the MAC address policy which you selected while exporting.
    • Select the option import hard drive as vdi.
    • Hit Import.
  • Wait for import to finish.
  • Once import is complete, you can start your virtual machine.
  • And you should see your entire virtual machine is moved to the new computer with all the files and settings.
  • That’s it.
  • Optional: You can delete the ova file if you are satisfied with import.
Import the ova VM image in VirtualBox after move
Figure 7: Import the ova VM image in VirtualBox after move
Select the ova file
Figure 8: Select the ova file
Summary of the import
Figure 9: Summary of the import
Import is in progress
Figure 10: Import is in progress
Start the VM normally
Figure 11: Start the VM normally
Move complete of an example VirtualBox VM with all settings
Figure 12: Move complete of an example VirtualBox VM with all settings

Wrapping Up

It’s super easy to move a VirtualBox VM with all files and settings. I hope this guide helps you to transfer your VMs smoothly. You can also use these steps to back up your virtual machines for many use cases.


Arindam

Creator and author of debugpoint.com. Connect with me via Telegram, 𝕏 (Twitter), or send us an email.
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