I have Ubuntu 13.04 running in a VM in VirtualBox. Originally, I was just trying it out, but now I've started using it a lot, and I have many of my programs and files in it. Is it possible to transfer this to a partition on my hard drive? Also, (this would be much more preferable), is it possible for me to transfer it to a bootable USB?

My System: Ubuntu 13.04 64 bit running in VirtualBox Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit


The terminology you're looking for is often called physical to virtual or virtual to physical. It's often shortened to P2V and V2P.

There's a tutorial on how to do this for VMware and Virtualbox over on the AskUbuntu site. The Q&A is titled: Migrate from a virtual machine (VM) to a physical system.

Migrating a Windows Guest

I found these instructions for migrating a Windows VM V2P. They're untested by me but seem plausible. The tutorial is titled: V2P Virtual to Physical.

This is an easy tutorial on how to take a Windows installation in Virtual Box, or any other Virtual software for that matter, and turn it into a physical machine. This has been tested on Windows XP x86 and x64 as well as Windows Vista,7 X86 and x64. This tutorial is assuming you have advanced knowledge of installing Windows/Virtual OSes/changing boot settings…etc etc OK? Now let’s get started.

These are the steps, verbatim.

1) First off, make sure you have the machine configured the way you want before making an image of it. This is assuming you are using it to test software or make an image for multiple computers. Install the software you want and the updates you need as well as any antivirus software. An important note when installing software: Do not install the Virtual Machine Add On’s (VirtualBox) or VMware tools (VMWare) as this is almost always likely to cause a bluescreen due to the IDE Controller driver being totally, and not even remotely the same, as a physical IDE controller.

2) Download Macrium Reflect Free Edition. (do a Google search, everyone knows how!) Then install it on your Virtual Machine. Right click on the virtual drive you installed Windows too and right click and choose “Create Image of this Disk” Some Side notes: I would recommend mapping an external drive as the place of backup for this image. Plug in a USB hard drive or map a network drive in the Virtual Machine settings. (maybe I’ll do a tutorial on this). I say an external drive because making a backup on the same drive the virtual machine is running off of could cause the time it takes to copy the backup increase drastically.

3) After the image has been successfully created, restore that image to the hard drive you will be using to install in your physically machine. To do this, right click on the image that Macrium has created and choose “Restore Partition”. When you go through the steps, one of the options asks you to assign a drive letter. Click “Do Not assign a drive letter” If you Assign it anything other than C, it’ll causes issues since that’s what your virtual machine drive letter was to being with. You can’t assign it ‘C:/’ anyways because the computer you are on most like has that drive letter taken already. The other option to look out for is when it asks if you want to restore the MBR with a default one. ALWAYS choose to restore the MBR with the one from the backup.

4) After that has completed successfully, go into Windows Disk management in Windows and right click the drive you just restored the image too as “Active”. This will tell the BIOS of the machine you are placing this drive in that it has a bootable partition on it. If you don’t set it to active, the BIOS will tell you that there is no boot device available.

5) Go ahead and put the hard drive in the computer you wish to boot it from. Make sure all the plugs are in the proper place and IDE is configured properly (AKA Master and Slave jumpers if on IDE)

6) Next step, before you even turn on the computer, is to pop in your windows CD. Whether is be Windows XP or Windows Vista/7. Always remember to use the right version of the architecture that corresponds to the one you used when installed in a virtual machine. I.E. if you installed Windows 7 x86 then use a Windows 7 x86 USB/DVD for the next step.

7) Boot from the proper DVD/CD and choose “Repair your Computer”and choose Command Prompt (Both Windows XP an Vista/7)

8) now type “bootrec /fixboot”

9) Restart your laptop/desktop and windows should start booting up!

  • It appears that the link you sent me is for if my host operating system is Ubuntu, but in my case, it's Windows. How would it work then? – hkk Nov 25 '13 at 22:15
  • @cloudcoder2000 - see updates. – slm Nov 27 '13 at 8:05

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