Speed up Windows guest network on VirtualBox

virtualbox_compI had been using VMware Player for years to run my VMs on Ubuntu and publishing patches to build VMware on the latest Linux kernels. Recently I got interested in Oracle’s VirtualBox and tried installing Windows on it.

When I fired a VirtualBox Windows VM (unfortunately I need to use one due to unavoidable reasons) for the first time I noticed network delays. I was attending a remote call and the voices were choppy and broken on a high-speed network connection. I looked around for options to boost the speed. I noticed that by default VirtualBox set PCnet-FAST III as my network adapter. I googled and it seemed that the adapter needs to be changed after all. The options are Intel PRO 1000 or Paravirtualized Network (virtio-net) adapters.

Both the alternative classes of adapters need additional drivers installed on Windows. The driver should be installed on Windows after you enable the adapter so download them to the VM in order to install them. Here are the download links:

I am seeing faster network performance with these drivers indeed.

If you ever need to recompile the VirtualBox kernel drivers:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

To install a VirtualBox extension pack:

$ sudo VBoxManage extpack install --replace Oracle_VM_VirtualBox_Extension_Pack-4.3.12-93733.vbox-extpack
//--replace is needed if you already have an earlier version installed

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