My personal server's motherboard has died and the replacement is going to take a few weeks to arrive. In the meantime I have content on the hard drive I need access to so I have set up a VirtualBox on my Window 10 laptop and plugged the drive in to a seagate USB cradle but I can't get Windows to see that it is there...

If I go to Device Manager I can see the drive but File Explorer can't see it. I have tried uninstalling the driver and plugging it back in but no joy.

The laptop is Windows 10 64Bit with 32GB of Ram, AMD chipset and the server is also AMD chipset running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, PHP-7.3, MariaDB and Apache2.4 (8GB Ram).

Has anyone got a bright idea? I have wasted half the day on this and am no further than when I started.

Thanks :)

  • 1
    Windows can't read ext4 etc. by default.
    – Panki
    Oct 1, 2019 at 11:32
  • But is using a USB not like using a Live CD? Windows should just pass it to the VM like it does a Linux Live CD from its Rom drive, no? I might be wrong but seems like a reasonable thing to assume. I have seen programs that will read/write to ext4 but nothing that works like a driver so that is what makes me think its possible. Oct 1, 2019 at 12:34
  • Thinking about it more I think your right the CD is an ISO and so is a bootable USB. Oct 1, 2019 at 12:37
  • Have you tried using the Windows disk utility? The one which you can use to view partitions. Oct 1, 2019 at 12:43
  • IIRC in VBox there is a "USB-passthru" mode so the guest machine sees the USB port directly without interference from the host. In that case you would plug in the DD it will appear as a /dev/sdX in the Linux VM and you will just have to mount it (if the file manager won't do it for you).
    – xenoid
    Oct 1, 2019 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


I figured it out. You don't need anything to make this work it can be done by configuring VirtualBox correctly.

If you set storage controller to USB with no drive, then under the USB tab set the correct USB controller for your external drive (USB 2.0 EHCI in my case) and start the box it will fail with no bootable media but you then click the devices tab and every device plugged in is listed. Select the external drive and restart the box and it boots directly of the USB drive with nothing else required :)

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