An easy way to get files in and out of a Win98 VM in VirtualBox

To get stuff into a Win98 virtual machine running in VirtualBox on a Linux host, VirtualBox shared folders are (as I understand it) not an option because there are no ‘Guest Additions’ for Win98.  But there are various tricks to try. Using network connectivity is one way. One of the simplest is to use genisoimage. At a command prompt on a Linux host, typing

man genisoimage


To create a vanilla ISO9660 filesystem image in the file cd.iso,
where the directory cd_dir will become the root directory
of the CD, call:

genisoimage -o cd.iso cd_dir

hence, I can just put the files I want to get into Win 98 in a directory and use genisoimage to make an iso file of the directory then put the iso in VirtualBox’s virtual CD drive using the ‘Devices’ menu (usually at the top of the VM).

However, it is no good for getting stuff out again, since the iso is read-only.

How about allowing the VM to access a USB stick? I started by finding ‘nusb36e.exe’ or similar on some trustworthy website, and installed it on the Win98 guest (ah, but how did I get the file into it?  Well, I could have browsed the web from inside the VM, but I just used the genisoimage trick noted above), noting the instructions about removing previously defined USB devices (and other unidentified devices) first, by opening Device Manager in Win98 (note I am using Win98 SE. If using First Edition, the USB driver install is a little different). Also, on rebooting I did not let Windows try to install/find any new devices; I just cancelled any dialogues it popped up.

When I  rebooted lots of ‘ghost’ drives seemed to appear in Windows Explorer, but when I put a USB stick into the host and made sure it was activated in the ‘Devices’ -> ‘USB Devices’ menu on the top of the VM window, I could indeed see the USB stick inside the VM.

I could indeed copy files to it. Then, if I ejected it from the Win 98 box (left click on green USB eject arrow on bottom right of Win 98 screen and eject the relevant drive), and then deselected it from the VirtualBox ‘Devices’ menu, I could mount it on my Linux desktop and see the files I had copied out of the Win 98 VM.

Hence, to get files in and out of a Win 98 VM, you can go via a the network or via a USB stick.

Other news of shattering intensity.


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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

2 responses to “An easy way to get files in and out of a Win98 VM in VirtualBox”

  1. Eddie G says :

    I would like to use network connectivity. Everybody talks about it as if it were easy, but no one explains how to do it. I have my Windows 95 VM running, accessing the internet, with TCP/IP protocol installed and so on. Now, the rest should be easy but I don’t know how to do it. Essentially, I would like to access one directory of the linux Host from inside the Windows 95 VM as if it were a network connection. How can I do it? Thanks.

    • Darren says :

      Sorry, Eddie G, I don’t know. I partly used this method ‘cos I did not want to mess around with networking, samba and so on. Sorry. I might look into it in the future…

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