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How to create a virtual machine on an external USB storage device to make it portable? Step by step guide

Thanks to all the technological advances, today it is very easy to have two operating systems on the same computer , this is normally done through partitions on the hard drive where Windows and a Linux distribution or Mac OS are usually installed. Being able to have two systems can be very interesting, where each of them can be used for a different function.

But, it may be even more interesting to be able to install an operating system on an external storage device that you can take anywhere, this will allow you to be able to transport your virtual machine in your pocket everywhere in a very simple and fast way. This gives you the possibility of having Windows on your PC and on your pendrive or external Linux drive, or in that case also Windows.

Being able to have a virtual machine offers you many alternatives , since it can be used to perform tests, install applications, use it as a game machine, among many other options. Taking into account the importance of VMs, here we are going to show you how you can create one on your external storage unit , for this follow in detail everything that we will teach you in the post.

What are the benefits of installing virtual machines on external devices?

Without a doubt, being able to install virtual machines on an external device will offer you a large number of benefits , just as it happens when it is installed inside a computer. And this type of software allows you to install and use other OS simultaneously on your main OS , so that the same computer can use Windows and Linux, Mac, Kali Linux, among others.

Previously these virtual machines were only  installed inside computers , but due to all current advances they can now also be installed inside an external storage unit as long as it meets the minimum requirements for it .

In accordance with this, here we show you the main benefits that all this offers you:

Easy to transport

The main advantages of being able to install an MV on a pendrive or external hard drive is that you can transport it everywhere very easily . This will allow you to carry your operating system everywhere and play it on any machine . Without a doubt, it becomes a very good alternative for those users who are constantly traveling and need to use a machine with a specific OS

You can try a new OS

Another of the main advantages that can be obtained when making a VM, either on the PC or external memory , is that this will allow you to explore new operating systems . In general, most users have used Windows all their lives , but thanks to these tools you can enjoy a second system , either to install some of the Linux distributions and thus learn a little more about said software.

When there are two systems, the user has the possibility of dividing all their activities in two, this time one can be left alone to carry out work and study activities, while the other can be used to play video games, movies , among many others tasks to do.

Run old or incompatible software

It can be said that one of the main advantages of these tools is that users can use it to run an old or incompatible program with their main OS. On many occasions you want to run X software but it is not compatible with Windows, for example, so you need a computer that has Linux or Mac for it. For this type of case, virtual machines are the best solution , so being able to transport them everywhere will surely get you out of a lot of trouble.

Run unsafe software freely

Due to the situation that exists when these machines are installed , and since it is an isolated system , the user has the opportunity to work more freely since their equipment is not directly running any type of risk . So using a VirtualBox will allow you to be a bit imprudent with security and do many things that you did not do before out of fear. Among some of them such as opening unsolicited emails or entering unreliable websites.

In addition, they have become an ideal tool for testing suspicious files to determine which are good and which are not. They also allow viruses to be freely run so that you can study them and find out how they act in real time, whether out of curiosity, research or just to hang out.

Finally, it should be mentioned that despite being a fictitious system there are always some risks of playing with security, since in some cases these malicious software can try to get out to the real system .

Clone an operating system to another machine

For these types of cases it is essential to be able to have a virtualBox from an external drive such as a pendrive . This is because all the content of a VM is stored in a single file , it can be an easy task to transfer that file to another machine and then upload it without complications. This will be possible as long as the main operating system is compatible with that of the virtualBox.

An example of this so that you can understand it better is that these programs are stored in a VDI file, no matter what OS it is being used in, so that said VDI file can be copied and loaded into another OS on another computer and run it . In this way it will be possible to create a clone of your system and take it with you wherever you want, just like creating a virtualBox on the external storage unit .

What are the requirements to install a VM on a removable disk?

What are the requirements to install a VM on a removable disk?

As previously mentioned in the post, in order to install a virtualBox on a removable disk or pendrive, it will be necessary that they meet a series of minimum requirements, this will be what indicates whether they are capable of supporting said software or not . One of the most important aspects to take into account in these cases is the size of the unit, although this will depend mainly on the operating system that you want to install .

This means that an OS will occupy a space according to its version , so that some may require more gigs than others . An example of this is the Linux distribution, Ubuntu , which requires around 5GB of drive space, now if you choose to use an older version like Windows XP can see , then it may only require around 1.5 GB.

It is important to mention that not all OS are compatible with this type of tool, that is, with the virtual machine to use on a pendrive , although most of the known systems are. Although for this it is necessary to supply both the serial number and the installation file in the case of Windows.

Therefore, taking all this into account, here are some of the most important requirements that the removable drive must have to be used as a transportable virtualBox:

  • The first thing to do is to select a removable storage unit with a memory capacity of at least 8GB , although it is recommended that you have much more in these cases, either 16GB or 32GB. It should offer a fairly reasonable read / write speed.
  • It is also recommended to opt for a 4 or 8 Gbyte USB Flash memory , since these are much more compact and their price is not that high .
  • Whenever you plan to carry out this procedure, it is important to do it via USB 3.0 or FireWire, never using slow interfaces.

Learn step by step how to create a virtual machine on a portable device

Before starting with the process for creating the VM on a portable device it is important to clarify some things, and the VirtualBox portable is very easy to configure, but it will be necessary that you pay attention to some key and decisive details to carry this process to carried out satisfactorily. Some of the points to consider is that this requires administrator privileges to function properly , although this should not be a problem if it is already configured at home.

But for business users this is not the most practical solution . It is also important to mention that this VM consumes a lot of memory and hard disk , although both can be adjusted when they start to run . In this way, and as already mentioned, it will be necessary to use a USB drive large enough to support any of the operating systems that are installed .

With all this clear, here we show you the steps to follow to create a portable MV:

Configure VirtualBox portable

When the USB drive is ready, you must perform the “Download Portable VirtualBox” the next thing will be to open the file and extract the software on your USB drive, it is also possible that you extract the files to another directory and then copy the folder that you have created in the portable disk. Then you must enter the directory and open the folder “Portable-VirtualBox.exe.”

Learn step by step how to create a virtual machine on a portable device

Then a pop-up window will appear with the option to “Download VirtualBox installation file” which you are going to select. While the installation is being carried out, you can click on “Extract files” here you will see a box for 64-bit 32-bit operating systems, this depends on the computer you are using for the MV, in some cases both options can be checked, but keep in mind that both would take up much more space.

The next thing will be to check the box “Start portable-VirtualBox after extraction and / or compress”.  For the following steps you must be very careful, since a very confusing part of the procedure is presented, in this case you must click on the “OK” button located at the bottom left of your screen, be very careful not to click the button “Exit” because it would lose all, nor must click on the button “VirtualBox.exe” which appears in the installation directory.

In the event that the installation directory appears in the wrong path, then you must select “Re-open Portable-VirtualBox.exe ” and use the “Search” option to choose the VirtualBox.exe file and click on ” To accept”.

After this the procedure may take a few minutes to continue with the process, here you must wait for the MV to extract and install all the files that are necessary, here you will not have a progress bar to know how much is missing, so you must be patient . In the case of Windows some error sounds may be heard during this procedure but they are not important.

Learn step by step how to create a virtual machine on a portable device

When all this has been installed, it should be opened despite being advised to exit and return to the application to make sure everything works properly. This can be done by opening the notification area of the Windows task bar, for this click on “VirtualBox Portable” and then on “Exit”.

You can also adjust the settings such as network support from this menu, generally, USB and network support are usually disabled by default. In order for you to enter Portable  Virtualbox again you will have to click on the same Portable VirtualBox.exe file on your flash drive   that previously led to the configuration screen, but this time it will take you directly to the VirtualBox software .

Learn step by step how to create a virtual machine on a portable device

From this moment on, the VM is used as usual, just as if the procedure were being carried out from a computer. When the virtual machine has been created, the user can use the USB memory on any Windows PC and open the Portable-VirtualBox.exe file, this will automatically allow him to run the chosen operating system.

In this way you can start using your new OS anywhere and without any problem. As you can see, this process is very simple and easy to do, so you don’t need to be a computer expert to create your own MV on a pendrive .