I have a fairly specific question.

I had Ubuntu on my Laptop (for years). For a variety of reasons, I've had to switch to Windows but the computer has two hard drives. The main drive was reformatted and I've installed windows. The second hard drive still has the Linux system disk format (not sure on type). Obviously, windows can't access it but can I access it from a Virtual machine (VirtualBox) or will I need to load up a Live-Session to access / move the contents?

Edit: If this is possible, how would one proceed to mount the disk?

  • Great Question! The best way to find out is:...**try**! Sep 23, 2012 at 21:40
  • Working on it but not even sure where to start with the VM. :-)
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2012 at 21:41
  • I was quick to mark an answer. But, NlightFotis made a very strong argument and I have to agree. If someone states it's possible and documents how, I'll switch the answer as it'll be technically right but until then that answer is "right".
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2012 at 22:00
  • @FrankV: it's perfectly o.k. to leave NlightNFotis' answer accepted. For data access only there are better ways indeed than raw disk access. See also superuser.com/questions/311934/…
    – Takkat
    Sep 25, 2012 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


Yes, of course it is possible to set up Virtual Box to have raw access to an attached hard drive.

This is dangerous because data can get lost

We do have to make sure that we never ever access this drive from both, the host OS, and the guest OS at any time.

There is a nice tutorial found in the Virtual Box Manual on how to achieve this.

In short summary (do take the time to read the manual) we need to create a .vmdk file pointing to our hard drive:

VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename /path/to/file.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sda

We than may attach this file to our virtual machine

VBoxManage storageattach <NameofVM> --storagectl "IDE Controller" --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium /path/to/file.vmdk

In all honesty, I do not think so.

The reason for this:

Disclaimer: I loooove deductive reasoning. Brace yourself.

Let's look at out information, shall we:

  • You have 2 hard drives. One of them has windows installed, the other uses a (currently) unknown linux filesystem.
  • You want to create a Virtual machine. To do so, you need special software known as a Virtual Machine Hypervizor. An example of such software is VirtualBox.
  • Windows is unable to use the hard drive at its current format.
  • To create a virtual machine, you need to create a file that will act as a virtual hard drive. That file has to be stored somewhere.
  • Since windows can not access the hard drive as is, it is highly unlikely it can use it to provide services to software running on it, like a Hypervizor (e.g Storage)
  • So, the virtual machine will have to be stored on the hard drive that windows is installed on. =(
  • Unless you get very technical in virtual machines or are a highly skilled computer hacker, there is (very very ...) little chance that you can access the host (physical computer) from the guest (virtual machine)

TL:DR: Theoretically anything that contains a virtual machine is highly unlikely to help.

However, you might be able to use partitioning software to format the hard drive and make it available to Windows.

  • That emulates my thinking, to be honest. :-)
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2012 at 21:49
  • @FrankV Edited my answer, for clarification. Sep 23, 2012 at 21:55
  • Thanks. I'm seeing your point. Even if technically possible, is it worth the time? I suspect not. Just use Ubuntu's LiveCD feature and grab my stuff and get the partition ready for windows.
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2012 at 21:58
  • 1
    Agreed. I just want the data. Thanks for your time.
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2012 at 22:00
  • 1
    @JavierRivera I see. I would love to delete this answer then, but the system won't let me, since it is the accepted one. Please feel free to downvote it to oblivion. Sep 25, 2012 at 11:43

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