In the past, moving a virtual machine (VM) from one computer to another was a difficult process. Several XML control files controlled the virtual machines, and moving the VMs required editing these files and moving all associated files.

Understandably, things didn't always go smoothly. VMs refusing to boot, VirtualBox couldn't identify VMs, and media conflicts were quite common.

Fortunately, newer versions of VirtualBox have made moving VMs from one computer to another a lot easier. How to export a VirtualBox virtual machine to another computer.

Before moving your virtual machine

Moving your virtual machine is a straightforward process in itself, but you need to take some precautions before doing this.

First, make sure you are running the latest version of VirtualBox. Navigate to file > Check for updates. If updates are available, install them.

Then deactivate all active VMs and close VirtualBox. Shutting down all VirtualBox processes before exporting a VM minimizes the risk of conflicts later.

Finally, open VirtualBox and you're ready to export.

Related Topics: Practical Reasons to Use a Virtual Machine

How to export a VirtualBox VM

There are two simple methods you can use to export a VirtualBox virtual machine. The first method is to use the built-in export Function for generating an exportable VDI file. The other method is to copy and paste the entire VM folder that you want to move.

How to export a virtual machine using the built-in feature

Before exporting, turn off all VMs again and close VirtualBox.

After about 5 minutes, start VirtualBox and click on Tools. Then choose export is in the right pane.

Then click the VM you want to export from the list and click Next. This opens the Device settings Panel.

By doing Device settings Panel you can configure the export. You can change the resulting file format, choose a file name for export, and choose to keep MAC addresses and other network configurations.

However, if you don't know if to tinker with an option, stick with the default settings.

  1. Make sure, that format Field has Open the virtualization format 1.0 selected.

  2. By doing file In this field you can change the storage location and the name of the export. With the default settings, the file will have the same name as your VM and will be exported to the documents Folder.

  3. Next, choose the MAC address option that is appropriate for your needs. Unless you are concerned about MAC addresses, stick with the default setting Enter only the MAC addresses of the NAT network adapter. On the other hand, you can also remove or keep all MAC addresses. Choose the option that works best for you.

  4. Finally, in addition to the choice Write manifest file, choose Include ISO image files if you no longer want to download the ISO files in the future. Then click on Next what makes you Virtual system settings Panel.

The final step in the export process is to add the virtual machine details.

  1. By doing Virtual system settingsDouble-click a line that you want to add information to. For example, if you want to describe the VM to be exported, double-click description Line and add the information.

  2. If you're not sure what to write, or want to erase everything you've written, click restore default settings.

  3. When you're ready to export the VM, choose export.

Keep in mind that the actual export process may take a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of your VM's virtual storage disk. So be patient, do not close VirtualBox or turn off your computer.

How to export a virtual machine using the copy and paste method

This is possibly the easiest way to export a VirtualBox VM. All you need to do is navigate to the VM folder, copy and paste it into a directory where you want to export the VM.

The default path for the VirtualBox virtual machine is C: Users your username VirtualBox-VMs. Open the folder, right click the VM you want to export and select Copy. Then navigate to Removable Disk (or another directory), right click and select Insert.

Copy and paste the virtual machine after connecting the USB flash drive or other removable storage device.

Related topics: Transferring files between a virtual machine guest and a host PC

How to import a VM into VirtualBox

After exporting your VM to another computer, you need to import it into VirtualBox. The import process only works if you have exported a VDI file using the procedure described above.

Import a VDI using the VirtualBox tool

  1. To do this, start VirtualBox and click on Toolsand select Import.

  2. By doing Device to import Make sure the source filed is set to Local file system.

  3. Then click on the folder symbol in front of the file and navigate to the location of the .vdi file you exported in the previous step. Select this file and click on Next.

  4. In the next section, review the appliance settings you selected in the previous step and select if you are satisfied Import. The import process may take a while. So don't turn off your computer or close VirtualBox.

If you haven't used the export option and copied / pasted the VM folder, the process is a little different.

Import a copied VM

Choose file from the top toolbar and select Virtual Media Manager. Then click on Add and navigate to and select the VM folder.

Finally click Apply and your VM will be added to VirtualBox. You can now use the VM just like any other VM you created from scratch.

VirtualBox Virtual Machines can be difficult to move if you are running an outdated version

The latest versions of VirtualBox make it easy to export and move VMs from one computer to another. So if you're still running an older version of VirtualBox, update it as soon as possible.

Also note the following: Do not interrupt the export process halfway by closing the program or shutting down your computer. This will likely lead to errors and conflicts when you try to import the VM.

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About the author

Fawad Murtaza
(15 articles published)

Fawad is a full-time freelance writer. He loves technology and food. When he's not eating or writing about Windows, he's either playing video games or writing for his quirky blog, Techsava.

By Fawad Murtaza

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