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5 Creative Uses For A Virtual Box That You Probably Never Considered

Justin Pot 26-11-2011

virtual boxTry out Android, Windows 8, any live CD and more, on your computer without messing up your bootloader (or worse.) With VirtualBox it’s easy, if you think creatively.


VirtualBox gives you an easy way to create “virtual boxes”, a sort of computer inside your computer you can use to try out new operating systems and learn more about how computers work.  Lachlan Roy’s MakeUseOf manual on VirtualBox How to Use VirtualBox: User's Guide With VirtualBox you can easily install and test multiple operating systems. We'll show you how to set up Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine. Read More explains how to set up Windows XP, Windows 7 and Ubuntu within VirtualBox so you can use those operating systems at any time, without the need to reboot.

Those aren’t the only uses for VirtualBox, though. Here are some creative uses for VirtualBox you probably haven’t considered.

Try Out Windows 8 Right Now

Curious about the future of Windows? You should try out Windows 8, available free as a developer preview.

virtual box

Windows 8 isn’t exactly stable, and doesn’t run perfectly in VirtualBox. With a few tweaks, however, you will get a feel for what Windows will be like come Autumn 2012.


Read more about installing Windows 8 in VirtualBox Try Out Windows 8 In VirtualBox Right Now For Free Are you curious about Windows 8, the upcoming operating system from Microsoft? Try it out in a virtual machine, right now, for free. All you need to do is download the free ISO file and... Read More

Play With Android On Your PC

Thinking of buying an Android device, but wish you could give the operating system a spin before you spend your hard-earned cash? Set up Android in VirtualBox to take a quick test drive. It’s possible thanks to AndroidX86, a port of Android to the PC.

You won’t get the full Android experience – notably, there isn’t access to the Android Marketplace. You will, however, get a feel for the default apps, and the system’s excellent integration with Google services such as Gmail and Google Calendar.

windows virtualbox


Interested? You’ll find instructions for setting up Android in VirtualBox on the AndroidX86 page.

Try Out Any Live CD Without Rebooting

While we’re talking about using VirtualBox to try out different operating systems, don’t feel like you need to install a system in order to try out it. There are hundreds of free live CDs out there that you can easily run, as I point out in my Live CD Manual The 50 Cool Uses for Live CDs Live CDs are perhaps the most useful tool in any geek's toolkit. This live CD how-to guide outlines many uses live CDs or DVDs can offer, from data recovery to enhancing privacy. Read More .

You don’t need to burn a CD and reboot your computer to try them all out, though. With VirtualBox you can simply mount the ISO and boot from within your current operating system, giving you the ability to test every live CD out there. Give it a shot!

Seamlessly Combine Desktops

Do you like VirtualBox, but wish it was easier to work with software in your native operating system and software in your virtual one? You should check out VirtualBox’s seamless mode, which blurs the line between one system and the other.


virtual box

It’s easy to use if you have the VirtualBox guest additions installed already, but read more about VirtualBox’s seamless mode VirtualBox's Seamless Mode: Combine Two Operating Systems Into One Desktop Read More if you’re having trouble.

Create A Virtual Machine From Your Existing Drive

Do you have an old computer you only occasionally boot up to access a particular piece of software? It’s possible to move that entire system to a virtual machine, though it’s not entirely easy. Check out this tutorial on the VirtualBox website and see if this process will work for you.

Alternatively, you could convert your existing hard drive to a Windows Virtual PC drive Create a Virtual Machine Clone of Your Existing Windows Hard Drive Virtualization allows one operating system (OS) to run on another OS. We'll show you how to create a virtual machine clone of your system and how to use it. Read More .



These are, of course, just a few creative uses for a virtual box. Can you think of better ones? Please, grab yourself a drink and discuss. I’ll be here to chat with you in the comments below.

Related topics: VirtualBox, Virtualization.

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  1. Anonymous
    December 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Hey, Justin. Your AndroidX86 link is incorrect. It led me to a MUO 404 page.

    • Jeff Fabish
      December 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Try this link instead.

      • Anonymous
        December 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm

        Thanks Jeff, I've already downloaded it, the URL just had the MUO address at the beginning. I was just notifying Justin.

        • jhpot
          December 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

          Noted and repaired; thanks!

  2. Anonymous
    November 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    VirtualBox was fine, until I realised you can't drag and drop files to and from the VM. This is such a frustrating limitation.

    • David
      November 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      You can set up a 'Transfer folder' in your main OS. Then drop files in, making them available in virtual box

      • Raynol1991
        November 27, 2011 at 12:13 am

        how to set up a transfer folder?

        • Jeff Fabish
          November 27, 2011 at 12:34 am

          If you don't get assistance here, open up a question and we will help you out. 

        • jhpot
          November 27, 2011 at 4:50 am
        • Anonymous
          November 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm

          The VBox guide (see Similar Stuff above) tells you how to do it.

      • Anonymous
        November 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

        I realise that VB has this feature, but to me, it's such a weird thing to do that I look at it as a workaround, not a feature. I'd really prefer it if I could just drag and drop. When I set up my VMs, I choose to isolate them from the main system.

        • jhpot
          November 27, 2011 at 10:28 pm

          Drag and drop would be about as far from isolated as possible...

        • Anonymous
          November 28, 2011 at 12:19 am

          I don't know… I think it depends on how you look at it. I see a folder on my system which is basically a shared folder with the VM is un-isolated. I mean in terms of the filesystem. Drag-and-drop is not isolated, but it doesn't mess up my filesystem, which is almost immaculate.

        • Anonymous
          November 28, 2011 at 12:21 am

          Still an awesome app though, especially the fact that it's free (open source).

        • jhpot
          November 28, 2011 at 2:08 am

          It would be pretty hard to implement that kind of drag-and-drop, but it's a great idea. Someone should get on that.

        • Anonymous
          November 28, 2011 at 3:47 am

          I know VMware implements it using a software that you install onto the VM. Drag and drop doesn't work on that until I install the software (Linux and Windows).

  3. inf0g33k
    November 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I have a usb modem and linux on my pc.. but linux drivers dosn't play nice with my modem so i installed windows in a virtual box, connected my modem to internet in Vbox then massed up with network settings so now i got internet on my linux box..
    pretty creative :)

    • jhpot
      November 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      Wow; that's an amazingly complex way to get Internet access. Awesome.